Temporary modular housing for homeless in Vancouver approved for Franklin Street

The Director of Planning for the City of Vancouver, Gil Kelley, announced today the conditional approval of a development permit to build 39 new temporary modular homes at 1115, 1131, 1141 Franklin Street. The homes 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.

As part of the development permit process the City hosted a community information session with about 60 people attending. City staff also met with many organizations in the community, individual business owners and women-serving agencies, including Strathcona Business Improvement Association, Atira, WISH Drop-in Centre, Vancouver Aboriginal Friendship Centre Society, Downtown Eastside Market, Portland Hotel Society, Urban Farm, Hive for Humanity, Strathcona Elementary Parents Advisory Council, Battered Women's Support Services, Living in Community, Inner City Neighbourhood Coalition, Downtown Eastside Women's Centre and Pace.

"I'm very pleased that a development permit has been approved to allow the development of urgently needed temporary modular housing on Franklin Street," said Mayor Gregor Robertson. "This is a vital step to help the City meet its target of establishing 600 new safe and secure homes across Vancouver for our most vulnerable citizens."

The city has received a total of 20 written responses about the project both in support and in opposition. Of those in support, there was general appreciation for the City's efforts in delivering this type of housing. Of those in opposition, there was general recognition that homelessness is a much larger problem with uncertainty as to whether this was the right solution.

The temporary modular housing at 1115, 1131, 1141 Franklin Street will be prioritized for people who are unsheltered or living in a shelter and homeless people living in the local 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 18 per cent (7 units) will be fully wheelchair accessible. The building will also include amenity space and laundry facilities for all tenants to use. It is anticipated construction will start the beginning of February and the building will open in April.

BC Housing has selected PHS Community Services Society (PHS) 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, volunteer work, employment preparation and connections to community-based programs.  PHS is an experienced supportive and low-income housing provider with 27 years of experience in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside.

In September, City Council took steps to update and streamline the approvals processes to facilitate proposals geared towards people receiving income assistance, such as those who live in temporary modular housing.

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 City's Housing Vancouver strategy a target of 12,000 new units of permanent social and supportive housing will open over the next 10 years. The City is also working together with BC Housing to open 300 temporary shelter spaces this winter as a way for those living on the street to get out of the cold.

To learn more about temporary modular housing, visit http://www.vancouver.ca/temporarymodularhousing.

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