July 4th, 2008
VERNON – A new $11.7-million development that will provide 40 units of affordable housing for Vernon families officially broke ground today with government and community partners on hand to celebrate.

“The Province is committed to improving the lives of families who are at risk of homelessness,” said the Tom Christensen, MLA for Okanagan-Vernon and Minister of Children and Family Development. “This development will be a place of stability and opportunity for families by providing them with safe, affordable rental housing.”

The Province provided a capital grant to facilitate the construction of 4305 19th Avenue under the Aboriginal Housing Initiative (AHI). The City of Vernon has provided a 60-year lease on the land.

“This development will make a real difference for families who will call it home and for the community of Vernon as a whole,” said Acting Mayor Juliette Cunningham. “Building a better life and the ability to pursue opportunities begins with having stable and affordable housing. Vernon Native Housing Society has a great record of managing this type of housing in our community.”

Vernon Native Housing Society will operate and manage the development. The society was one of the successful proponents following a proposal call for AHI housing developments issued in 2007 in consultation with the Aboriginal Housing Management Association (AHMA). Formed in B.C. in the mid-1990s, AHMA is the only Aboriginal social housing management agency in Canada.

“There is a broad range of housing need in Vernon,” said Tina Hlady, AHMA board executive, “and the Aboriginal Housing Initiative helps provide new resources to create a range of affordable housing. This development will give Vernon Native Housing Society’s clients affordable mainstream housing options.”

“Our society was formed to help people break the cycle of homelessness by providing people with affordable rental housing,” said Val Chiba, president of Vernon Native Housing Society. “Through this development, we are meeting our goal of providing stable, clean and comfortable housing for Vernon families in greatest need.”

The Aboriginal Housing Initiative has allocated 292 housing units in 10 communities across the province. The units are being funded with $50.9 million in one-time funds through the Off-Reserve Aboriginal Housing Trust, which was transferred from the Government of Canada to the Province, and is designed to address the housing needs of clients, like those of the Vernon Native Housing Society. The Province is working in consultation with AHMA to administer the trust.

Budget 2008 increased the amount the Province invests in affordable housing and shelters to more than $380 million a year, more than three times as much as in 2001.


4305 19TH AVENUE

4305 19th Avenue in Vernon will provide 40 units of affordable housing, comprising 26 apartment units and 14 townhouse units for Vernon families at risk of homelessness, under the new Aboriginal Housing Initiative (AHI).

The 0.95-hectare (2.348-acre) site is in a residential neighbourhood and is close to a shopping centre, two elementary schools, a secondary school, and bus service.

Construction is expected to be complete in spring 2009 with occupancy anticipated for July 2009.

The capital cost of this project is $11,783,215

  • The Province is providing a capital grant of $10,883,215 through AHI;
  • The City of Vernon is providing reductions of property taxes and development cost charges in the amount of $400,000. The city will provide a 60-year lease to the society for a nominal amount (the land is valued at $900,000).
Vernon Native Housing Society
Vernon Native Housing Society was incorporated as a non-profit society in 1989 when a need for affordable quality housing was recognized by the founding board members. The purpose of VNHS is to enhance living conditions by ensuring safe, clean, comfortable and affordable rental housing for residents of the City of Vernon.

VNHS currently operates 62 units of affordable housing for Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal families, singles and persons with disabilities. VNHS also has three BC Housing portable subsidies (which allow the tenants flexibility in where they choose to live).


Media contacts:
Darija Tomasic
BC Housing
604 456-8845

Val Chiba
Vernon Native Housing Society
250 558-4574

Liz Williams
City of Vernon
250 550-3539

Andrew Leach
Aboriginal Housing Management Association
604 921-2462