Surrey, province break ground on new supportive housing project

Facility near Green Timbers to include 100 supportive housing units, 30 transitional accommodation spaces

A project that has been years in the making is finally underway.

The City of Surrey and the provincial government broke ground on the Green Timbers supportive housing facility Friday (Nov. 22).

READ ALSO: Surrey approves lease with province for shelter near Green Timbers forest, May 28, 2019

Surrey Councillor Brenda Locke told the Now-Leader it’s “great news that we’re finally putting that shovel in the ground.”

“This has been in the works for a really long time and so this is a really important part of what we can do in Surrey to help people that are struggling,” said Locke, who chairs the city’s Social Equity and Diversity Committee.

“This will have a huge impact on those people that are street entrenched and those people that are not getting the kind of services that they need to move forward. This will have a big impact and help their lives move forward.”

At the Green Timbers facility, residents will be charged a monthly rate of $375, which is the social assistance shelter allowance provided by the province to people experiencing homelessness, according to the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing. There is no fee for transitional accommodation spaces.

Back in May, the city approved the 60-year lease with the province for the housing, which will include 100 supportive housing units and 30 transitional accommodation spaces. It will also include support services such as counselling, health and food services, laundry facilities, a dining lounge and recreation and outdoor open space.

At the time of the lease approval, construction was set to begin in June with an opening date expected for summer of 2021.

Construction is now expected to be complete by late 2021.

BC Housing, along with proposed operator RainCity Housing and Support Society, plan to build and operate the six-storey Green Timbers Way Housing Facility, located north of the Jim Pattison Outpatient Care and Surgery Centre.

homelessphoto

RainCity Housing and Support Society representatives George Simpson, left, and Catharine Hume during the groundbreaking for the Green Timbers supportive housing project. (Photo: Lauren Collins)

RainCity co-executive director Catharine Hume said the society’s vision “is a home for everyone.”

“As an organization, we have and we continue to work to offer welcoming, safe, affordable housing to people who experience and often continue to experience various forms of marginalization,” Hume said.

RainCity, she said, currently operates a housing first intensive case management in Surrey, as well as a peer-driven harm reduction service in the community.

In the last 2014 Metro Vancouver Homeless Count, 602 people were identified as homeless. Of those, 399 were in shelters, 44 were in Extreme Weather Response shelters and the remaining 203 were on the street.

Although, those figures are widely recognized as an undercount.

This new facility has been in the works for years. In 2015, a memorandum of understanding between the city and BC Housing was brought to council “to secure a partnership to lead to the delivery of a new purpose-built low barrier shelter and transitional housing facility in the Surrey City Centre area.” According to the agenda, the memorandum was signed on Nov. 16 and 19, 2015.

Council previously gave its blessing to rezone the property. At the April 18, 2016 council meeting, there was a recommendation to rezone two city-owned properties at 9900-140th Street and 14150 Green Timbers Way. Both properties received third reading for the rezoning in May, 2016.

The land has since been subdivided, creating the new address, 9810 Foxglove Dr.

The province, according to a release from the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, has provided nearly $30 million through Building BC, a supportive housing fund.

– with files from Amy Reid

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