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Province purchases properties in Vancouver to provide more affordable housing


June 24, 2020

VANCOUVER – The Province, through BC Housing, has purchased the 110-room Howard Johnson Hotel at 1176 Granville St. as part of a long-term plan to build a mix of affordable homes for people in Vancouver.

“Housing is the foundation of people’s lives and of healthy, safe communities,” said Selina Robinson, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. “We’re taking action to build more affordable rental homes in Vancouver, as we continue to provide supportive housing and health care to people right now. There’s a real need for housing for people with different incomes, from young families to seniors, and we’ll be engaging with the community on how we can use this site to deliver urgently needed homes.”

In the interim, the Howard Johnson site will operate as temporary supportive housing while long-term plans are developed. BC Housing will connect with partners and the community to begin the conversation about how the site and the adjacent parking lot can be used to tackle the housing crisis and build a mix of homes for people in Vancouver.

“The purchase of these hotels holds great short- and long-term potential for providing much-needed safe and secure housing that goes beyond four walls and a bed,” said Shane Simpson, Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction. “We are working to develop a model of supportive housing that meets people’s needs with appropriate health, mental health and addictions supports, and creates opportunities to live a safer, healthier life as part of a community.”

The Province has also purchased the 63-room Buchan Hotel at 1906 Haro St. to provide housing with supports for women. The site is empty, and residents will begin moving into the Buchan in July.

Atira Women’s Resource Society will operate the housing at both hotels, which include wraparound supports where people have access to services such as meals, health care, addictions treatment and harm reduction, as well as storage for personal belongings. The sites also have 24/7 staffing to provide security to residents of the building and the surrounding neighbourhood.

”Atira is thrilled to be a partner in this essential housing,” said Janice Abbott, CEO, Atira Group. “Especially at this time, it’s even more important that we all come together to ensure people’s fundamental right to housing is honoured, while at the same time, ensuring that the health and well-being of everyone, including people traditionally marginalized by mainstream society, is paramount.”

BC Housing is setting up a new community dialogue group that will oversee the supportive housing’s integration within the community and will address any concerns raised by people in the neighbourhood.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has put into even-sharper focus our urgent need for housing, especially for our most vulnerable neighbours,” said Kennedy Stewart, mayor, City of Vancouver. “These hotel rooms will provide immediate safety and shelter while we work with the Province and the community to develop the long-term vision. Now, more than ever, we must come together to make sure all our neighbours are safe and supported, and I cannot thank the Government of B.C. enough for its leadership.”

These purchases are part of the Province’s ongoing actions to provide housing for people experiencing or at risk of homelessness and build on the more than 780 supportive homes that have been opened in Vancouver in the last two years.

In Vancouver, BC Housing and its partners are also operating various temporary housing options in hotels and shelter facilities to serve vulnerable people in Vancouver during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Province will continue to support people after the COVID-19 pandemic and these homes deliver on that commitment.

Quick Facts:

  • The B.C. government provided approximately $55 million to purchase the Howard Johnson hotel and the neighboring development site.
  • The B.C. government provided approximately $19.4 million to acquire the Buchan Hotel.
  • The Province is working in partnership to build more than 3,500 new affordable homes for people with a range of incomes in Vancouver:
    • housing for people with middle incomes: 135 homes
    • housing for people with low to moderate incomes, including families, seniors and Indigenous peoples: 2,653 homes
    • housing for women and children leaving violence: 73 homes
    • housing for people experiencing or at risk of homelessness: 784 homes

Learn More:

For an overview of BC Housing’s work to monitor and respond to COVID-19, visit: https://www.bchousing.org/COVID-19

For more information and latest medical updates on COVID-19, follow the BCCDC on Twitter @CDCofBC or visit its website: http://www.bccdc.ca/

For more information on non-medical issues like travel recommendations and how to manage social isolation, visit: www.gov.bc.ca/COVID-19

Or call 1 888 COVID19 (1 888 268-4319) between 7:30 a.m. and 8 p.m. (Pacific time), seven days a week.

Two backgrounders follow.

Contacts:

Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing
Media Relations
778 584-1255

BC Housing
media@bchousing.org

BACKGROUNDER

Services, supports provided for modular housing

All new modular housing buildings in the province have around-the-clock staffing to help young people, people with disabilities, seniors and others in critical need of housing.

The Province is providing annual operating funding to help those with the highest housing needs to build new beginnings. Experienced staff provide support to tenants based on their assessed needs.

Services and supports provided to young people, seniors, people with disabilities and others who are experiencing or at risk of homelessness, include:

  • on-site supports and connection to additional specialized supports in their community;
  • supports that are tailored to the needs of the residents, including education and employment opportunities, and health and wellness services, including mental health and addiction treatment programs;
  • individual or group support services, such as life skills, community information and social and recreational programs;
  • meals;
  • case planning and needs assessment;
  • other supports designed to assist residents in meeting their personal and housing goals, including culturally specific programs;
  • help accessing income assistance, pension benefits, disability benefits, obtaining a B.C. identification card or establishing a bank account;
  • support for residents to learn how to operate and maintain a home; and
  • free laundry services, either on or off site.

Media Contacts:

Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing
778 584-2433

BC Housing
media@bchousing.org

BACKGROUNDER

Province building new homes to meet full spectrum of housing needs

The B.C. government is working in partnership with non-profits, municipalities, First Nations, Indigenous housing organizations and the private sector to build 114,000 affordable homes that cover the full spectrum of housing needs for British Columbians by 2028.

Budget 2018 included a $7-billion investment in the homes people need. As a result of that investment, more than 23,000 new homes are completed, under construction or in the approvals process for a range of people who are struggling to find a place to live, from people who are experiencing homelessness and seniors on fixed incomes, to middle-income families, students and individuals. As of Dec. 31, 2019, this includes:

Housing for people with middle incomes

The average annual household income qualifying for homes underway is under $99,000 per year:

  • HousingHub: 2,802 homes

Housing for people with low to moderate incomes

This includes people residing in social housing (household incomes less than $65,000) as well as those living in affordable market rentals (households with annual incomes up to $74,000) – 9,837 homes:

Affordable market:

  • Building BC: Community Housing Fund (30% of units in each project): 1,565 rental homes for people with low to moderate incomes
  • Affordable Rental Housing Program: 1,615 homes for people with low to moderate incomes
  • Deepening Affordability Fund: 1,976 homes for people with low to moderate incomes
  • Regional Housing First Program: 907 homes for people with low to moderate incomes

Social housing or subsidized rents:

  • Building BC: Community Housing Fund (50% of units in each project): 2,609 rental homes for people with low incomes
  • Building BC: Indigenous Housing Fund: 1,165 homes for Indigenous peoples, on- and off- reserve

Housing for people with very low incomes

Rental housing for people experiencing or at-risk of homelessness, or for people with very low incomes (includes supportive housing and shelter-rate housing) – 4,795 homes:

  • Rapid Response to Homelessness: 2,012 homes with 24/7 support
  • Building BC: Supportive Housing Fund: 1,060 homes with 24/7 support
  • Building BC: Women’s Transition Housing Fund: 679 spaces of transition, second-stage and affordable rental housing for women and children leaving violence
  • Building BC: Community Housing Fund (20% of units in each project): 1,044 homes

Housing for students – 5,584 homes:

  • BC Student Housing Loan Program: 2,699 on-campus student housing units are under construction, in development or in the approvals process
  • 2,885 student housing units are also completed, under construction or in development through partnerships with post-secondary institutions

Total: 23,018 homes

Media Contacts:

Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing
778 584-2433

BC Housing
media@bchousing.org