A development permit for two buildings containing 98 new modular housing units for the homeless was approved by the City of Vancouver this week.
In a release today, the City said the sites, located on the Heather Lands at 5077 and 5095 Heather Street, will give priority to Indigenous residents experiencing homelessness.
“The focus on supporting Indigenous residents in these buildings is in line with the need identified through Vancouver’s annual homeless count, which shows Indigenous people make up 40 per cent of Vancouver’s homeless population,” the city said.
BC Housing has selected Lu’ma Native Housing Society as the nonprofit housing operator. Construction is anticipated to begin at the end of September with both buildings expected to open in late December.
Each new suite will be approximately 320 square feet, have individual heating and include a kitchenette, bathroom and living/sleeping area. A total of 6 units in each building will be wheelchair accessible.
The buildings will also include a large indoor amenity space with a commercial kitchen to encourage social interaction and provide a communal space for the residents to gather. There will also be common laundry facilities, an administration office, and meeting rooms for the staff and residents. The front yard of the buildings will have a shared outdoor amenity space with tables and gardening planters for the residents to use.
As a condition of approval of the development permit, 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. It will be comprised of Lu’ma Native Housing Society, community members, and representatives from Vancouver Coastal Health, BC Housing, Vancouver Police Department, and the City of Vancouver.
The proposed temporary modular housing is separate from the upcoming rezoning and permanent development of the Heather Lands site.
On May 15, City Council approved the Heather Lands Policy Statement for the 21-acre site to become a sustainable new mixed-use neighbourhood with housing for all income levels, improved cycling and walking paths, and new park and open space inspired by Indigenous culture and traditions.
The site was formerly home to the RCMP Division ‘E’ Headquarters, today the site is jointly owned by the Musqueam Indian Band, Squamish Nation and Tsleil-Waututh Nation (MST Nations) and Canada Lands Company (CLC).