City, YWCA to partner on new social housing above fire hall

The City of Vancouver is set to partner with the YWCA on an innovative housing project that will see 31 new units of affordable housing for low-income mothers built on top of a new fire hall in southeast Vancouver.

The unique partnership between the City and the YWCA is the latest in a series of projects that see the City utilizing community facilities as a way to deliver new affordable housing. Last month, the City approved a proposal for the YWCA to build low-income housing above a new library in Strathcona.

"The City is dedicated to looking at every possible option for getting new affordable housing built, and our partnerships with the YWCA are leveraging real results," said Mayor Gregor Robertson. "This new housing will provide safe, affordable homes for mothers and their children, and at the same time create a new community hub by combining it with a new firehall for the neighbourhood. I want to thank the YWCA for their continued leadership in helping some of our city's most vulnerable citizens."

The project is located at 3090 East 54th, and will include four storeys of wood-frame housing built on top of a new fire hall. There will be 31 two and three bedroom units for single mothers and their children, which will rent from $500 a month up to $980 per month for a three bedroom unit. The total budget for the project is $9 million, with $5.5 million from the City and  $2.2 million contributed by the YWCA. Both the Streetohome Foundation and BC Housing are supportive of the project and are in discussions with the City and the YWCA to raise the remaining equity. A Community Development Worker from the YWCA will be on site to provide information on YWCA resources and community programs. Construction is expected to start in the winter of 2014.

The City has successfully integrated fire halls with community facilities before. The Firehall Branch Library is located at 1455 West 10th, above Fire Hall #4.

A report coming to City Council on Wednesday recommends the YWCA to manage the affordable housing component of the project, which builds upon City Hall’s consistent work to make housing more affordable in Vancouver. These steps include:

  • Launching a Mayor’s Task Force on Housing Affordability
  • Enabling significant new affordable housing on City-owned land with an innovative partnership that is creating 355 new affordable rental units on 4 City-owned sites in Southeast Vancouver
  • Approving a record number of new rental housing units in 2012
  • Hiring a new Chief Housing Officer for the City of Vancouver
  • Approving the development of an arms-length Affordable Housing Authority
  • Approving Vancouver’s first-ever co-housing project
  • The opening of Vancouver’s first Rent Bank, to support renters in crisis with short-term loans
  • The creation of the Rental 100 Program, which provides incentives for the development of new, 100% rental buildings
  • Launching the Online Rental Standards Database, which enables renters to search out buildings that have current safety issues
  • Hosting the ‘re:THINK Housing’ international ideas competition to solicit ideas from around the world on how to create new affordable housing

To read the full report, visit http://former.vancouver.ca/ctyclerk/cclerk/20131218/documents/cfsc8.pdf