March 6, 2018 (Vancouver, BC) The City of Vancouver’s Director of Planning has approved the development permit for the construction of temporary modular housing at 525 Powell Street (formerly 501 Powell St.). The new site will be home to 39 new units of housing for women in the Downtown Eastside.
The homes at 525 Powell Street are part of a $66 million commitment from the Government of British Columbia towards building 600 new units of temporary modular housing to address the immediate needs of homeless residents in Vancouver.
BC Housing has selected Atira Women’s Resource Society as the non-profit housing operator to oversee tenanting and management of the building and provide support services to the tenants 24/7, including life skills training, counselling, meals and referrals to health and community-based programs.
As part of the development permit process the City hosted a community information session with approximately 60 people attending. Notifications were distributed within a five-block radius of the site beginning on December 1, 2017, along with fact sheets to provide additional information to residents and businesses.
City staff also met with many organizations in the community, including the Strathcona BIA, the Downtown Eastside Market, PHS Urban Farm, and Hives for Humanity. Women-serving agencies within the Downtown Eastside were also met with about the project, including WISH drop-in, Battered Women's Support Services, Living in Community, Atira, Vancouver Aboriginal Friendship Centre Society, Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre, Pace, and PHS Community Services.
The City received a total of 15 comment cards and four emails from the public. Of those in favour, there was a fair amount of support for the City in taking the initiative to deliver this type of housing and a number of respondents remarked on the need for more temporary modular housing. Of those in opposition, there was concern about other non-profit and social housing developments nearby and for the future management of this building and its impact on the surrounding neighbourhood.
The temporary modular housing building, which will contain 39 units, will be constructed by Horizon North. Each new home will be approximately 250 square feet and contain a bathroom and kitchen. A total of seven units will be fully wheelchair accessible. The building will also include amenity space and a communal kitchen to encourage social interaction and provide space for the residents to gather. There will also be laundry facilities, a staff room, an office and meeting rooms for the staff and residents to use. It is anticipated construction will start in early March and the building will open in May.
Atira Women’s Resource Society, the non-profit operator who will manage the building, is an experienced supportive and low-income housing provider with more than 30 years of experience committed to providing supportive housing for sheltered and unsheltered homeless women that nurtures belonging, influence and purpose.
A Community Advisory Committee (CAC) will be established to provide an ongoing forum for information sharing and dialogue between the community and the program partners and to reflect the profile of the community. It will be comprised of the housing operator, community members, and representatives from Vancouver Coastal Health, BC Housing, Vancouver Police Department, and City of Vancouver. The CAC will be created once the development is close to completion.
So far 156 units of Temporary modular housing have been approved: 525 Powell Street (39 units); 7430 & 7460 Heather Street (78 units that have been built); and 1115, 1131, 1141 Franklin Street (39 units that are under construction with an anticipated completion date of late April).
104 units of temporary modular housing are also under review for development at two other locations: 4410 Kaslo Street (52 homes) and 595 and 599 West 2nd Avenue (52 homes).
Temporary modular housing is a quick and effective way to address the urgent needs of the City’s most vulnerable residents while more permanent housing is being built. From the fall of 2017 until the end of this year, 1,000 new social and supportive housing units will open across Vancouver. All of the developments will be managed safely and responsibly by experienced non-profit housing operators.
As part of the Housing Vancouver Strategy, the City has a target of 12,000 new units of permanent social and supportive housing over the next 10 years. The City also works together with BC Housing to open 300 temporary shelter spaces during the winter months as a way for those living on the street to get out of the cold.
To learn more about temporary modular housing, visit Vancouver.ca/temporarymodularhousing.