In a town where many low-income earners and people on fixed incomes are competing for limited rental stock, plans for a new affordable housing complex are being welcomed with ‘open arms’ according to one consultant.
The Mamele’awt Qweesome & To’o Housing Society (MQHS) plans to build 45 units of rental housing at 755 Old Hope Princeton Way, which will rent at below-market rates. The organization is holding an open house Thursday to hear from Hope residents: what consultant on the project Patrick Geisbrecht has heard so far, is overwhelmingly positive.
“So far we have been received with open arms I would have to say,” Giesbrecht said. He has reached out to the Hope and area healthy communities committee, the local chamber of commerce, local First Nations and other groups.
“This (open house) is a chance for us to really hear from the rank and file of (the groups’) memberships to get their feedback…We want to make sure this is a good fit for Hope, we also want to hear people’s concerns.”
The planned housing complex will include 37 one- to two-bedroom units and eight three- and four-bedroom townhouses. The project has a BC Housing application in and any revenues generated will go to the project and potentially to lowering rents for tenants.
“It would be more of an internal subsidy program, so to speak, if there are any revenues that are made then it’s absolutely mandated that any of those go directly back into that particular project,” said Janet Silver, CEO of MQHS.
To construct the project, the lot would have to be rezoned from C-2 highway commercial to C-5 commercial transition.
Who will be able to rent a unit in the new build has yet to be worked out. Silver said they hope to be able to house those who are most in need, this will be determined ‘in consultation with the district of Hope’.
“It will be below market and it will be based on the tenant’s income,” she said. “That will be a little bit dependent on the (district) of Hope and any agreements they want to enter…and what parameters the (district) decided to put into that agreement.”
Silver and Giesbrecht stressed the housing complex is not low-barrier, supportive or transitional housing, which normally houses people who are homeless or precariously housed and may face active addictions or mental health issues.
There will, however, be supports in place which will be determined depending on the needs of the tenants. Silver gave examples of supports in other MQHS buildings: a tenant relations department, a live-in caretaker, health services.
“The type of funds that are coming through BC Housing are really to target the working poor, not the low-barrier…this is more just a place to live based on the income they’re making that’s going to be reasonable, which seems to be a huge gap right now,” Silver explained.
“A project like this is really more about keeping families at risk of ending up homeless from getting to that place. So it’s actually a preventative measure, as opposed to taking someone off the street and back into housing,” Giesbrecht added.
MQHS been in the business of housing for over 30 years. The majority of its over 100 units of housing are in the Mission area.
It is now expanding to the eastern Fraser Valley including 60 units in Abbotsford, this project is at the building permit stage; an 80-unit building in Chilliwack to be completed early next year, and the proposed 45 units in Hope.
The open house will be held Thursday, June 28, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Hope Recreation Centre.
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