New Beginnings, a new modular housing project, is opening its doors and offering Indigenous peoples experiencing homelessness a place to call home.
The Province and the City of Vancouver have partnered on the 98-unit supportive housing project, which is a part of the B.C. government’s commitment to build more than 600 supportive homes in the city.
“Everyone deserves a safe place to call home and this project will provide that and more, as Indigenous peoples experiencing homelessness are given the opportunity for a new beginning,” said Mable Elmore, MLA for Vancouver-Kensington. “Together with the City of Vancouver and the Lu’ma Native Housing Society, we are helping people into homes with 24/7 supports, so that they can be connected to the health and life-skills opportunities they need.”
New Beginnings, like other modular buildings created as part of the Building BC: Rapid Response to Homelessness program, offers around-the-clock services to residents. These include meal programs, life and employment skills training, health and wellness support services, and opportunities for volunteer work.
“Creating safe, warm homes for nearly 100 people, New Beginnings at Heather Lands will help give just that to its future tenants,” said Kennedy Stewart, mayor, City of Vancouver. “The buildings will provide a strong foundation for people currently experiencing homelessness and we are pleased that Indigenous residents will be prioritized as tenants for these new homes.”
The housing will be managed by the Lu’ma Native Housing Society, an experienced non-profit housing operator and the first urban native housing society in B.C., with a 38-year history as a social housing provider.
The units are made possible through a five-year licence agreement provided to the City of Vancouver by the land owners, Canada Lands Company and the MST Partnership, a partnership of the Musqueam Indian Band, Squamish Nation and Tsleil-Waututh Nation.
The new homes at 5095 Heather St. were built by B.C. manufacturer Horizon North. Each home will be 29.7 square metres (320 square feet) and contain a bathroom and kitchen. Twelve of the 98 units will be fully wheelchair accessible.
The New Beginnings project brings the total number of completed modular supportive homes around the province to more than 700. A further 1,300 units are underway as part of the Rapid Response to Homelessness program, which will deliver more than 2,000 modular supportive homes in 22 communities.
Margaret Pfoh, CEO, Aboriginal Housing Management Association (AHMA) –
“In light of the 2018 report on homeless counts in B.C., the overrepresentation of homeless Indigenous peoples continues to grow at an alarming rate. We are happy to see our Province, in partnership with the City of Vancouver, Lu'ma Native Housing Society, Canada Lands and MST Development, put together this project in a record time. Ninety-eight of our homeless people will be saved from the harm of life on the streets and will be provided with around-the-clock services and support that will help them to put their life back on track. AHMA is happy to support our leaders, and all of you, in such a worthwhile project.”
Kent Patenaude, president, Lu’ma Native Housing Society –
“Lu’ma respectfully acknowledges that the buildings are built on unceded Coast Salish Territory, the traditional territories of the xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish) and Səlil̓wətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations. We are thrilled to be selected as the non-profit housing operator and are appreciative for the opportunity to provide housing, as well as 24-hour support services for Indigenous homeless residents. We look forward to working with our partners and thank the Province of B.C. and the City of Vancouver.”
- The Government of B.C. provided $16.1 million for the project and will also provide an operating subsidy.
- Residents will be charged a monthly rental rate of $375, which is the social assistance shelter allowance provided by the Province to those who are experiencing homelessness.
- Through the Building BC: Rapid Response to Homelessness program, the Province is investing $291 million to build 2,000 homes around the province and more than $170 million over three years to provide 24/7 staffing and support services.
- Lu’ma Native Housing Society means “new beginnings” in the Coast Salish language and was incorporated in 1980 to provide affordable housing for Indigenous families and singles in the City of Vancouver.
Read Homes for B.C., government’s 30-point plan to address housing affordability for British Columbians: bcbudget.gov.bc.ca/2018/homesbc/2018_Homes_For_BC.pdf
To find out more about temporary modular housing in the City of Vancouver, visit: www.vancouver.ca/temporarymodularhousing
To find out more about Lu’ma Native Housing Society, visit: www.lnhs.ca
Two backgrounders follow.