Mayor and Council approve new Library and Social Housing in Strathcona

An innovative project approved unanimously by the Mayor and City Council at tonight’s Public Hearing will deliver a new public library branch and new social housing in Vancouver’s Strathcona neighbourhood, with housing units focused on supporting low-income single mothers and their children.

The six-storey mixed-use building at 720/730 East Hastings will host a new 11,000 sq. ft. branch of the Vancouver Public Library on its ground floor and part of the second floor, which will also include a new social service centre operated by the YWCA. The YWCA will also operate 21 new units of social/supportive housing throughout the remainder of the project.

"This project is a strong example of the kind of innovative City partnerships that can improve our neighbourhoods, support low-income families, and help end street homelessness by providing urgently-needed new social housing," said Mayor Gregor Robertson. "With the support and involvement of both the Vancouver Public Library and the YWCA, this project will be a focal point for a stronger community in Strathcona and builds on the City's commitment to deliver housing and crucial social services to Vancouver families in need."

The new library branch will serve the Strathcona, Chinatown and the Downtown Eastside neighbourhoods and offer more comprehensive access to computers, internet access, in-depth collections, programs for new Canadians and community space.

The YWCA will construct the project and operate the 21 units of social housing and associated new programming space, with BC Housing making a $2 million capital contribution to the project. The residential portion will consist of family housing for single mothers and their dependent children, and will rent only to households below core-need income thresholds.

This project contributes to the City of Vancouver being on pace to meet or exceed the Housing and Homelessness Strategy’s 2014 goals for new supportive and non-market housing, and continues 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

For more information on the project, click here for the full staff report: