A major housing project in Surrey for those vulnerable to homelessness appears to finally be starting after years in the making.
On Friday, as part of a provincial government media relations blitz on National Housing Day, local politicians put shovels in the ground for the 130-unit supportive and transitional housing project along Green Timbers Way.
The six-storey building will house 100 people with social support provided by non-profit housing operator RainCity Housing and Support Services Society. It will also house 30 people transitional spaces for those on the brink of homelessness.
Surrey-Green Timbers MLA Rachna Singh and Mayor Doug McCallum helped break ground on the site, where construction is to be completed by late 2021, according to a provincial government statement.
"The Green Timbers project will provide not only a dignified space to live in, but it will have the necessary supports and services to help the residents succeed in transitioning off the streets,” McCallum said in the statement. “I want to thank BC Housing and all of our partners for helping us bring this very worthwhile project to fruition."
The province is spending $30 million to construct the building while the city, which had recently purchased the land, is leasing the property for 60 years and assisting with surrounding infrastructure costs, such as a newly built road, Foxglove Drive.
The building is situated between the RCMP E Division headquarters and the Jim Pattison Outpatient Clinic.
The project faced opposition for its location, as it carves out a slice of a significant green space once intended for conservation and adjoining Green Timbers Urban Forest park. It’s also faced delays with a previously expected opening in June 2021.
One significant change that occurred from the initial vision was to remove 30 emergency shelter spaces and replace them with transition spaces.
Residents will be charged a monthly rate of $375, which is the social assistance shelter allowance provided by the province to homeless people; there is no fee for transitional accommodation spaces, the government stated.
The government claims its 2018 budget has provided for 800 such homes with 24/7 support, across the province.
The building will have “ancillary support services and spaces including laundry, dining, lounge, recreation, outdoor amenity space, counselling, health services, and food services,” according to a city report.