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$38 million supportive housing project breaks ground in Vancouver

A new supportive housing project – the eighth and largest created under a partnership of provincial and Vancouver city governments – broke ground today.

When the $38 million building is completed in early 2013, it will accommodate 147 studio and single-bedroom units on West 2nd Avenue in the city’s Mount Pleasant neighbourhood.

Supportive housing projects target the “street entrenched” homeless population by providing low-cost self-contained units in conjunction with in-house medical and social services. These support services will be provided by RainCity Housing and Support Society, Vancouver Coastal Health, and the Katherine Sanford Housing Society.

Rent at supportive housing units is based upon the income of the tenant. But according to Michelle Frilund of BC Housing, because the vast majority of occupants will not have a steady income, rent for most units will be fixed at $375 per month, the shelter allowance component of provincial income assistance.

As The Tyee reported in 2007, homeless people cost taxpayers up to $40,000 per year in service and shelter costs. By comparison, studies have found that the costs of a person in supportive housing ranged to $28,000 per year. On average Canadians spend $11,200 a year on shelter.

Once construction is complete on the Mount Pleasant site, tenants will largely be drawn from the province's supportive housing registry, a list composed of names submitted by non-profit housing providers, shelter operators, and social workers.

Additional funding for the project comes from the Streettohome Foundation.

You can read more Tyee reporting on housing issues by going to the pull down list of topics on the Tyee’s home page and clicking on Housing.

Ben Christopher is completing a practicum at The Tyee.