Vancouver’s first modular social housing development has reached completion and will be welcoming its first temporary residents over the coming weeks.
The three-storey structure at the southeast corner of the intersection of Main Street and Terminal Avenue was built in less than two months with construction beginning on December 21.
By designing it as a temporary and modular structure, the building was built much more quickly and at a significantly lower cost than conventional methods.
The building, even its foundation which sits on gravel, can be disassembled and reassembled at another site when the vacant City-owned property – formerly a gas station and urban farm – is ready for a major, permanent redevelopment.
“This modular housing development is an innovative, low-cost solution that quickly delivers affordable housing by utilizing vacant City land as we wait for more permanent social housing to be built,” said Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson in a statement.
“City Hall will keep supporting the Vancouver Affordable Housing Agency (VAHA) and other partners to find creative solutions like this to tackle homelessness head on, and pursue all options and tools available to build more affordable housing as quickly as possible.”
There are 40 single-occupancy units in the development, including four units designed for people with disabilities. Each unit is approximately 250 square feet in size and consists of a small kitchen, private bathroom, and in-unit heating and cooling controls. There are also shared indoor and outdoor amenity and communal spaces, as well as a laundry room for all residents to use.
On the exterior of the building, two large art murals created by a local First Nations artist cover entire sections of the facade.
The project cost $3 million to build, equivalent to about $75,000 per unit, with the federal government contributing $1.5 million through the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s new Affordable Rental Innovation Fund. Another $1 million was privately donated by the estate of Jimmy Chow and the remaining balance covered by the City of Vancouver.
Additional funding for initial capital costs and operational costs will be provided by Vancity, with the municipal government covering the bulk of the operational costs.
VAHA, the City agency that is responsible for this project, is looking for other sites to build similar modular housing developments.
At least one other temporary modular housing project will be built on the roof of a multi-storey parkade facing the alleyway on 1060 Howe Street, a below-market housing complex that was formerly the Bosman Hotel.