A public hearing is planned at Surrey City Hall Monday for a pair of modular housing buildings for the homeless.
The two projects – one in Whalley and the other in Guildford – would be the first of several permanent supportive housing sites promised by the provincial government to replace the temporary ones set up in Whalley last summer.
Ultimately, the 250 promised units of housing are expected to be split between five sites.
In Guildford, a six-storey 63-unit modular apartment building is proposed “for the homeless, those at risk of becoming homeless, and ancillary support services” at 14706 104th Avenue, near an existing shelter, and directly north of Hjorth Road Park.
“Support services will include life skills training, employment assistance, and a range of social and health care services,” a report to council notes. “Residents will also be referred to external health care, mental health, and addiction services and other services and opportunities as required.”
Residents must be over the age of 19, “have a history of homelessness or are at risk of becoming homeless, and require support services,’ and priority would be given to Surrey residents.
Further, the report states “all residents pay rent and must sign a Program Agreement that addresses expectations about appropriate and respectful behavior, especially as it relates to the health and safety of themselves and others.”
City staff wrote in their report that there have been some concerns raised about the project by the public, including the “negative effect” the proposed housing could have on the area’s safety, that it’s too close to Hjorth Road Elementary, and that “there is a concentration of social services in the area.”
To proceed, the Guildford property requires council’s blessing to rezone the property and an OCP amendment is needed to allow for higher density.
Another three-storey modular apartment building will be considered Monday night. That building is proposed for 13425 King George Boulevard and would have 38 units.
It’s located not far from a homeless camp that’s established in a forested area just off of King George.
That property formerly housed a motel and today consists of four buildings operated by Fraserside Community Services Society. In 2013, council approved the modification of the motel into a “high services housing facility” that’s now known as Peterson Place.
If the proposal is approved, two existing strutures on the northwest side of the property would be removed, and the new apartment building would be constructed.
A report to council noted one resident called the city to voice opposition, expressing concerns about drug use and trafficking on the street, and that this “residential neighbourhood is not the appropriate place for a permanent supportive housing facility.”
To proceed, the proposal requires council’s blessing to rezone the property, as well as an OCP amendment.
A proposed site for a similar modular housing project in Cloverdale was withdrawn by BC Housing last fall, after public opposition.
The provincial government announced the Rapid Response to Homelessness (RRH) in 2017 as an “immediate response” to the growing issue of homelessness across the province.
“Partnering with non-profit organizations, local governments and community groups, BC Housing is investing $291 million to build over 2,000 modular supportive housing units across BC with support services for individuals who are experiencing homelessness or at risk of homelessness,” a report to Surrey council notes.
In Surrey, the RRH Initiative consists of two phases.
In phase one, the province opened three temporary housing projects with approximately 160 units last summer.
Phase two of the initiative involves delivering the 250 permanent modular supportive housing units across the City of Surrey, the report to council states.
The public hearing meeting is set to begin at 7 p.m. at Surrey City Hall on Monday (July 22).