People experiencing homelessness will now have access to more supportive homes and a unique opportunity to learn new skills through a community gardening program.
The Province and the City of Vancouver celebrated their partnership at the grand opening of the 52-unit project, part of the British Columbia government’s commitment to build more than 2,000 supportive homes throughout the province, with 600 of those in Vancouver.
The new homes at 265 West 1st Ave. were built by B.C. manufacturer, Horizon North. Each unit will be 30 square metres (320 square feet) with a bathroom and kitchen. Six of the units will be fully wheelchair accessible.
“These homes are much more than just a place to sleep. These homes represent new beginnings and new opportunities for a better life,” said Spencer Chandra Herbert, MLA for Vancouver-West End. “Partnering with local farms, this project will also give residents and neighbours a chance to learn new skills and help others in their community. We all benefit when we help each other when in need.”
Like other supportive housing developments under the Building BC: Rapid Response to Homelessness program, the project offers residents round-the-clock services, including meal programs, life and employment skills training, health and wellness support services, and opportunities for volunteer work.
“This latest building means that 52 more people in Vancouver will have a safe, warm place to call home,” said Mayor Kennedy Stewart, City of Vancouver. “Temporary modular housing provides immediate relief for those experiencing homelessness, and today’s opening means that over 550 new homes are now complete. We are grateful for our partnership with the Province and the tireless work of local non-profit organizations to deliver this critical housing, along with the important health and social services that will be provided on-site.”
The housing will be managed by the PHS Community Services Society, an experienced non-profit housing operator. Sole Food Street Farms, an urban farming project that transforms vacant urban land into street farms, will also offer training to tenants interested in learning more about growing quality fruits and vegetables, which are sold at farmer’s markets, local restaurants and retail outlets. The food grown will be used in meals served at the building.
The new homes bring the number of completed modular supportive homes built throughout the province to more than 800. A further 1,200 are underway as part of the Building BC: Rapid Response to Homelessness program, which will deliver more than 2,000 modular supportive homes in 22 communities.
Andy Bond, executive director, PHS Community Services Society –
“For over 25 years, PHS has advocated for holistic communities where even the most marginalized citizens are able to connect and participate in their health and well-being in a dignified and meaningful way. PHS is proud to see aspects of that vision come to fruition at 265 West 1st. We’re excited to welcome 52 people to their new homes and partner with Sole Food Street Farms to explore the urban farm’s positive impact on the community at 265 West 1st."
Michael Ableman, founder/director, Sole Food Street Farms –
“We recognize the inextricable connection between clean safe secure housing, healthy food, meaningful employment and a connection to nature as a foundation for well-being. We are thrilled to have the opportunity to bring together these essential elements and create an innovative living environment that goes beyond just a room and a bed.”
- The Government of B.C. provided $8.2 million for the project and will also provide an operating subsidy. The City of Vancouver provided the land for the development.
- Residents will be charged a monthly rental rate of $375, which is the social assistance shelter allowance provided by the Province to people 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.
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, go to: www.vancouver.ca/temporarymodularhousing
To find out more about PHS Community Services Society, go to: www.phs.ca
Two backgrounders follow.