Modular housing to provide 21 homes for vulnerable Indigenous women in Victoria

Construction is scheduled to begin this fall in Victoria to install 21 modular supportive-housing units for Indigenous women who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.

The three-storey building is expected to open in spring 2019, subject to the City of Victoria approving a development permit with a variance. It would go up on vacant land in the 800 block of Hillside Avenue as part of the existing Evergreen Terrace subsidized-housing project.

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This part of the Evergreen development has been empty after a November 2016 fire swept through the 1970s-era building, displacing 35 people and causing $1 million in damage. The eight homes damaged by smoke and fire were dismantled and not replaced. Investigators were unable to pinpoint the cause of the fire.

Now that site is targeted for the new 21-unit project.

A neighbourhood open house is set for Aug. 23 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Sandman Hotel Victoria, 2852 Douglas St. Representatives from B.C. Housing and from the Aboriginal Coalition to End Homelessness will be present to supply information and address questions.

Each self-contained studio unit will be about 350 square feet. Rents will be set at the provincial shelter rate of $375 per month, a B.C. Housing official said in a statement. “All tenants would have access to a range of culturally supportive housing supports on site.”

Staff will be on-site 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to support residents, B.C. Housing said.

The Aboriginal Coalition to End Homelessness will be the property manager and be responsible for selecting tenants.

Indigenous women 19 years and older can apply, with priority to Victoria residents, B.C. Housing said. Anyone applying will need to meet eligibility requirements around income, homelessness, and needed supports.

Modular housing is a cost-effective way of providing needed housing quickly, B.C. Housing said.

Modules are built off-site and then moved to the building site where they are assembled using a crane.

Similar projects are planned for communities elsewhere in B.C., including Courtenay and Parksville.

The Victoria project will be funding through province. It is spending $291 million to create more than 2,000 homes in the province, plus $170 million over three years for staffing and support services.

Homelessness is highly visible on Vancouver Island where tent cities in Saanich and Nanaimo have been established by campers calling for more housing that’s affordable.

cjwilson@timescolonist.com

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