A significant social housing project planned through a partnership between the Aboriginal Land Trust and the Government of British Columbia has the potential to change hundreds of lives.
The proposed project would provide approximately 50 new affordable rental homes for Indigenous peoples, as well as 50 new supportive homes for Downtown Eastside residents.
“There is a critical need for better housing for Indigenous peoples in British Columbia, as they are consistently over represented in homeless counts, including the recent count in Vancouver,” said Selina Robinson, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. “Reconciliation means continuing to work in partnership with Indigenous leaders, housing providers and First Nations to build the right mix of affordable homes for Indigenous peoples in communities around B.C.”
Located at 52-92 East Hastings St., the mixed-use development would include a safe and inclusive healing centre that is accessible to all. Operated by the Vancouver Native Health Society, the healing centre would be guided by a holistic approach to wellness, focused on the spiritual, emotional, physical and mental elements of well-being that blends Indigenous and western medicine.
“We are honoured to be part of such an innovative project that will meet the needs of so many people,” said Claire Marshall, president, Aboriginal Land Trust. “We are pleased to be partnering with BC Housing and such a diverse group of agencies, such as Vancouver Native Health Society, Lu’ma Native Housing Society and RainCity.”
The new affordable rental apartments for low-income Indigenous individuals and families would be operated by Lu’ma Native Housing Society.
“The announcement of new housing is a testament to the organizations and people calling for safe, affordable homes in the Downtown Eastside,” said Melanie Mark, MLA for Vancouver-Mount Pleasant. “Our government is working with on-the-ground organizations to build strong partnerships to support families, tackle poverty and grow strong, resilient communities.”
The site is currently home to the Shaldon Hotel, an aging supportive housing project, the Downtown Eastside Street Market, an overdose prevention site and Pigeon Park Savings, operated by Vancity.
All existing occupants at the site are being assisted with alternate accommodation and, if the project goes ahead, BC Housing will work with RainCity Housing to find new homes for all Shaldon Hotel residents during the construction period. Residents would be welcomed back into the modern, new supportive homes when the building is complete, at no increase in rent. RainCity Housing would operate these homes and provide 24/7 support.
The Shaldon Hotel at 52 East Hastings St. is designated a heritage site. A project proposal has been submitted to the Heritage Advisory Committee for consideration of how the proposed design would incorporate Indigenous heritage elements.
Adam Munnings, president, Vancouver Native Health Society —
“This is a very exciting time in the history of Vancouver Native Health Society. We look forward to moving into a new healing centre that will provide holistic programming that embraces traditional healing approaches that is designed and delivered by Indigenous peoples. Also, there will be a primary care clinic, dental clinic, pharmacy, Elders program and our administration services. We are hopeful to develop educational programs that complement our existing programs. It is with great honor to include the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations in the development of this unique project.”
Jennifer Cudlipp, board chair, RainCity Housing —
“RainCity Housing is excited to be a partner in this proposed project. As an organization that is committed to decolonizing practice, we welcome the opportunity to work in collaboration with the Aboriginal Land Trust, Lu’ma Native Housing Society and the healing centre. We are also very much looking forward to the opportunity to be able to provide approximately 50, self-contained housing units to members of this community.”
- The B.C. government has committed approximately $22.2 million for the housing portion of this project through the Building BC: Indigenous Housing Fund.
- The Indigenous Housing Fund was launched in Budget 2018 as part of the Province’s 10-year housing plan, with British Columbia becoming the first province to fund Indigenous housing both on- and off-reserve.
- The Province is working in partnership to increase the supply of affordable rental housing throughout the province. In Vancouver, there are more than 2,900 new rental homes completed, under construction or in development. This includes:
- Community Housing Fund: 1,156 mixed-income homes
- Indigenous Housing Fund: 229 homes for Indigenous peoples
- Women’s Transition Housing Fund: 38 homes for women and children leaving violence
- Supportive Housing Fund: 120 homes for people experiencing homelessness
- Rapid Response to Homelessness (modular housing): 606 homes for people experiencing homelessness
- Affordable Rental Housing program: more than 780 homes
A map showing the location of all announced provincially-funded housing projects in B.C. is available online: https://www.bchousing.org/homes-for-BC
To find out what the Province is doing to improve housing affordability, visit: https://news.gov.bc.ca/factsheets/bc-government-addressing-housing-affordability-challenges
A backgrounder follows.