Village Green Hotel manager Jay Rosenberger is starting a pilot project to provide affordable housing for those who need it. (Brendan Shykora - Morning star)

Okanagan hotel manager plans to turn spare rooms into affordable housing

Village Green Hotel’s Jay Rosenberger has been his own journey of recovery, and now wants to help

While the seasons change and the streets get colder, the reality of Vernon’s affordable housing shortage remains the same. That’s why a Vernon hotel manager plans to offer rooms to people in need of a chance to get on their feet.

After Jay Rosenberger became the manager of the Village Green Hotel just a few months ago, it occurred to him that he could use his new position to help solve an issue that’s close to him. The hotel had just added some old office spaces to its bedroom inventory, and rather than turn them into more hotel rooms, he had the idea to rent the rooms at low cost to people fresh out of drug or alcohol recovery who are struggling to find a rental.

“The whole idea is basically to start off with one room, and then if it works, to provide some transitional housing to people who maybe are having a hard time in the community getting a long-term rental,” says Rosenberger. “It’s kind of going to be a little pilot project.”

Rosenberger and the rest of the Village Green management team are still ironing out the details, and he himself isn’t sure how the idea will manifest. But he’s willing to take a gamble to find out.

“Who knows how it’s going to go from there. It might blossom into where we’ve got quite a few rooms.”

READ MORE: Affordable housing units open in Penticton

READ MORE: Feds’ latest investment aims to boost affordable housing across Canada

Rosenberger knows how difficult recovery can be, and how important it is to have an affordable place to stay in order to see recovery through.

He knows because he’s been through it himself.

“I’m four and a half years sober, so I know a little bit of the background of recovery and some of the ways that people don’t see how those steps go for recovering addicts. I know for me, when I first started down that road there were lots of ups and downs and hiccups, but in the end it has to start with a safe place to stay.

“I rented a room off of somebody and then went up to a place of my own, so this is kind of my way of giving back.”

Rosenberger has reached out to contacts in the recovery community, including Bill’s Place Addictions Recovery Program, to see if they can help him find someone who would be a good fit. He knows that a person in need of a treatment centre won’t get much benefit from one of his hotel spaces.

“I’m not talking about turning hotels into treatment facilities, because there are certain stages in recovery that definitely wouldn’t work with hotels,” he says.

Whether it’s a few weeks, a few months or longer, Rosenberger hopes a room at the hotel could be the stepping stone a person needs to find stable, long-term housing. Peter Kaz, the hotel’s special services manager, says that if an arrangement works out, there’s more they can do to help them with their next step.

“We can also be a reference for them as well when they try to find the next accommodations in their lives, or a job, or anything like that.”

In a sense, Rosenberger is testing the waters for other hotels to follow suit if his pilot project is successful.

“In my mind it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to have a town full of hotels with empty rooms and so many people who are having issues.”


Brendan Shykora
Reporter, Vernon Morning Star
Email me at Brendan.Shykora@vernonmorningstar.com
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