Public hearing set for City of Vancouver plan to build 213 new social housing units in Downtown Eastside

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      A public hearing will be held next week on a proposal by the City of Vancouver to build 213 new social housing units in the heart of Downtown Eastside.

      The development will take the form of an 11-storey mixed-use building at 124 Dunlevy Avenue, a block north of Oppenheimer Park.

      The proposed building will also provide on the ground level a new home for the Evelyne Saller Centre, a social service facility that serves low-income residents in the neighbourhood.

      The development will replace the Roddan Lodge, a six-storey seniors rental building owned by the city. Roddan Lodge has 156 units, and a majority is rented at welfare rates.

      Karen Hoese, acting assistant director for Downtown, had submitted a report to council, which will hold the public hearing on Tuesday (October 17).

      In her report, Hoese recalled that the city’s definition of social housing in the Downtown Eastside is a development where at least a third of the units are rented at the housing allowance provided to people on welfare or income assistance.

      For a single person on welfare, the shelter component of income assistance is $375 per month.

      Going back to the city’s definition of social housing in the Downtown Eastside, Hoese explained that another third of the units are targeted for those who cannot afford market rents, and the last third for tenants who can pay “affordable market rents”.

      “If approved, the project would exceed these affordability targets as it would secure two thirds of the units at or below the shelter component of Income Assistance,” Hoese wrote in her report.

      Hoese stated that the remaining units will be shared by those who cannot afford market rents, tenants whose rents will be geared to their respective incomes, and residents who will pay 80 percent to 90 percent of prevailing market rents in the neighbourhood.

      Roddan Lodge was built in 1976. It had 100 tenants when a rezoning application for the project was filed in April this year.

      According to Hoese, the city has committed to allow tenants to come back to the new social housing building, and more no more than 30 percent of their income on rent.

      Hoese stated in her report that the social housing component of the project costs $46.7 million. The relocation of the Evelyne Saller Centre, also a city-owned facility, costs $9.6 million.