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VIDEO: Supportive housing residents side with angry neighbours

Neighbours of Kelowna's Stephen Village are complaining about how the supportive housing residence is being operated and so are some of the people who live there.

After hearing complaints from people living near the building on Agassiz Road, KelownaNow spoke to a few of the tenants for the other side of the story.

Instead, what we heard was a validation of those complaints.

"A lot of the people around the residence hanging out on the sidewalk don't live here," points out Stephen Place resident Kim Snow.

<who> Photo Credit: KelownaNow <who> Kim Snow

But she sympathizes with the neighbours.

"I have complaints about this building," said Snow. "The staff doesn't know how to run the place."

"I have never lived in one of these places in my life," said fellow resident Ruby, "and it's hell."

<who> Photo Credit: KelownaNow <who> Ruby

She also agrees with what upset neighbours are saying.

"It shouldn't affect our neighbours should it?"

"They don't come out and do anything about stuff that's going on outside," added Snow.

And plenty is going on outside.

<who> Photo Credit: Contributed

Residents have gathered video of rampant drug use, fights and armed violent confrontations.

The video is included in a petition on Change.Org which calls for Stephen Village to move to a drug and alcohol free model.

"We've had stabbings, fights, machete fights," said Tyler Zeeman who lives across the street from Stephen Village.

"There's been two stabbings in the last year."

<who> Photo Credit: KelownaNow <who> (left to right) Tyler Zeeman, Donna Kittle, Anneke Mol

The neighbours admit the troubles aren't all with residents of Stephen Village, but suggest the activity is all connected to the presence of the facility and the drug use that goes with it.

"I've seen buying, selling, using, threatening, threatening each other," said Donna Knittle. "I don't feel like anyone here feels 100% safe."

She points to the nearby playground.

"Who would want to bring their children to a playground where drug users are buying, selling and using?"

<who> Photo Credit: KelownaNow

BC Housing, which funds the operation of Stephen Village bluntly rejects any suggestion that the facility moves to a 'dry house' model.

"A change in operations at Stephen Village is not being considered," reads a statement sent by email.

"This building operates under the widely recognized Housing First approach, which is a proven, international evidence-based housing model that recognizes people are better able to move forward with their lives if they are first housed."

If the model can't be changed, area residents say they at least have to make some big changes in how it's being managed.

"Be better neighbours," said Zeeman.

"Live up to their good neighbour policy."

"I think we all agree that we sympathize with the people who live on the street," said area resident Anneke Mol.

"But something else needs to come in place so that we can all live together."



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