The province will fully fund a new 60-unit supportive housing project in Norgate for women and their families facing homelessness, a first-of-its kind for the North Shore.
The province and the District of North Vancouver have partnered with RainCity Housing and Support Society to build a five-storey project on district-owned land at 1577 Lloyd Ave.
“This is the first supportive housing project on the North Shore in a long time. And it’s been a long time coming. It’s desperately needed,” said Bowinn Ma, North Vancouver-Lonsdale NDP MLA.
Every unit’s rent will be set at shelter rates – $375 a month for a one-bedroom, $570 for a two-bedroom, $660 for a three-bedroom and $700 for a four-bedroom.
Housing desperately needed in North Vancouver
During the 2020 Metro Vancouver homeless count, about 27 per cent of those found experiencing homelessness on the North Shore were women, Ma said, and she is aware of many constituents who are couch surfing or living in cars to stay off the street.
“We’re talking about populations that are either homeless, or at extremely high risk of being homeless,” Ma said.
Every unit will have its own kitchen, but the facility will also have a cafeteria for meal service and common areas used for life and employment skills training, access to work placements and health services.
“It’s a much more supportive environment,” Ma said. “This isn’t just housing. It’s also staffed 24/7, and it’s there to help women and families find the stability that is needed in order for them to actually move forward with their lives.”
The housing will be low barrier, meaning the residents will not be evicted for drug or alcohol use.
Although the exact capital and operating costs haven’t been nailed down yet, the province has committed to providing 100 per cent of both. The district, which has owned the land since 1930s, has been in talks with the province about repurposing it for affordable housing going back to October 2017. Today, the eight light-industrial zoned lots are overflow storage for a Volkswagen dealership.
District of North Van council must decide
The only hurdle for the project will be getting through rezoning with district council. Mayor Mike Little welcomed the partnership in a release and pledged public consultations.
“A growing number of women-led families in our community are in need of safe and secure housing. This council has prioritized using district-owned land to create social and supportive housing, and this project would provide much-needed supportive housing options for these marginalized families. I look forward to discussing this project with the community,” he said.
Still, Ma said she wants to see her constituents speak in favour when the time comes.
“I really strongly encourage the community to support this and to pull together to enable the prompt rezoning required to get this project underway as quickly as possible,” she said.
On Friday, North Vancouver RCMP recovered the body of an individual who was found dead following a fire in a homeless camp. Ma said she was gutted by the news and wants more supportive housing on the North Shore.
This will be the first project operated by RainCity Housing on the North Shore.
Amelia Ridgway, associate director for the non-profit society, said it was an honour to be a part of the project and she encourages residents, especially those living nearby, to participate in upcoming public meetings to learn first hand about what the project entails and how it will fit within the surrounding community.
“We have a really robust response. We take neighbour concerns very seriously and we want to be a good neighbour. That’s really important to us. We want to develop meaningful relationships with the people that will be living around this project,” she said.
BC Housing will host three online neighbourhood dialogue sessions on Feb. 10, 18 and 25, which can be accessed via letstalkhousingbc.ca/north-vancouver-west-16.