People will soon have access to safe, affordable housing thanks to a provincewide program to help municipalities tackle homelessness. The program will provide hundreds of new modular housing units in communities from Vancouver to Surrey to Smithers, Premier John Horgan announced today.
“People can’t begin to feel safe and secure until they have a place to call home,” said Horgan. “We’re partnering with local governments to help those who don’t have a home, to help them live in dignity and give them a chance at a better life.”
The B.C. government has committed $66 million toward 600 units of modular housing, which will be situated on land provided by the City of Vancouver. The modular units will be staffed 24/7 by non-profit housing providers and will include support services to help people in need stabilize and rebuild their lives.
“There are too many people living on the street in Vancouver and across the province,” said Selina Robinson, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. “These modular units will provide interim homes in the short term while we act on the more permanent housing solutions that are needed. These are an important first step in developing the comprehensive housing strategy British Columbians need."
Each building will include approximately 50 self-contained units, complete with individual kitchen and bathrooms, shared laundry, indoor and outdoor amenity spaces, plus programming space.
“The number of people living in poverty and experiencing homelessness has been ignored for far too long,” said Shane Simpson, Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction. “That is why we are taking urgent action to provide these supportive modular-housing units to make sure that people in need have a safe place to go.”
Temporary modular housing provides a rapid response to address homelessness. The intention is to have a number of the units up and running by this winter.
“It’s fantastic to see the Province step up to help solve homelessness with support to deliver 600 units of temporary modular housing in Vancouver,” said Gregor Robertson, mayor of Vancouver. “The City is ready to work quickly to make sure these temporary homes are built as soon as possible to get our most vulnerable residents off the streets and into safe, secure housing until more permanent options are available.”
This is part of the Province’s plan to construct 2,000 modular units over two years throughout B.C. by working in partnership with interested communities. The first 1,000 units are expected to be in operation by early 2018.
BC Housing is in discussion with a number of other communities that are in immediate need of modular housing for the homeless, including Surrey and Smithers.
“We are very excited about this initiative and its potential for our community, as it could fill a current gap in our housing spectrum by providing much-needed support for people with multiple barriers,” said Taylor Bachrach, mayor of Smithers. “We are looking forward to working with the Province on this initiative and are hopeful that it will be a good fit for Smithers.”
In addition to modular housing, BC Housing is working with communities to finalize plans to build 1,700 new units of affordable rental housing that were announced in the 2017 Budget Update.
- The B.C. government has set a target to build 114,000 new units of affordable housing throughout B.C.
- As part of the 2017 Budget Update, the Province announced that it will invest:
- $291 million to support the construction of 2,000 modular housing units for people who are homeless and more than $170 million over three years to provide 24/7 staffing and support services.
- $208 million over four years to support the construction of more than 1,700 new units of affordable rental housing in communities throughout the province.
- $6.8 million over three years to increase resources in the Residential Tenancy Branch.
- The Province has committed to working with communities to develop a homelessness action plan. As part of the plan, the B.C. government will conduct a provincewide homeless count to gain a better understanding of the situation in communities.