Thursday, November 13, 2008

NANAIMO'S $50 MILLION HOMELESS ACTION PLAN GETS PROVINCIAL SUPPORT

160 NEW HOUSING UNITS
FOR NANAIMO HOMELESS


The Province and the City of Nanaimo have agreed to create up to 160 new supportive housing units at five properties for people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness, Housing and Social Development Minister Rich Coleman and Nanaimo Mayor Gary Korpan announced today.

“Nanaimo has agreed to partner with us to help break the cycle of homelessness and assist those in greatest need to help regain their independence,” said Coleman. “Through this partnership, we are making a significant commitment to ensure that safe, secure, affordable housing will be created in Nanaimo that contributes to the city’s action plan on homelessness.”

“Many people in our community worked hard on our five-year plan to tackle homelessness that was completed this summer,” said Korpan. “We have moved quickly and now we’re getting firm action to begin implementing the solutions our city needs to make headway on this issue. As a member of the Premier’s Task Force on Homelessness, Mental Illness and Addictions, I am especially appreciative of Premier Gordon Campbell and task force chairman Rich Coleman’s continued support of Nanaimo’s efforts to help solve this huge social challenge.”

“I want to give credit to the community for meeting the challenge we set last year, asking municipalities to identify properties for new supportive housing in return for provincial support,” said Nanaimo-Parksville MLA Ron Cantelon. “They really did their homework and now we can work together to make this much-needed new housing a reality.”

The five properties include three City-owned sites, a provincially owned property, and a site owned by the Tillicum Lelum Aboriginal Friendship Centre.

The three City properties, at 1598 Townsite Road and 1402-1590 Bowen Road, and a package at 437-445 Wesley Road and 421 Franklyn Street, will provide a total of approximately 140 housing units.

A provincially owned property at 3515 Hillside Avenue will be the location for approximately 10 units, as will the Tillicum Lelum Aboriginal Friendship Centre property at 477 10th St.

“By partnering with the Province and the City to build housing, we have the opportunity to expand the type of assistance we offer to people in need,” said Rene Robinson, president of Tillicum Lelum Aboriginal Friendship Centre. “This housing will help us continue to fulfil our purpose of improving the quality of life for urban Aboriginal people and providing assistance for the most vulnerable in our community.”

The agreement between the Province and the City, a memorandum of understanding (MOU), calls for expedited approvals through the development permit process, with the Province paying for all pre-development costs to design the housing through to the issuance of development and building permits. The City has agreed to provide its three sites and to ensure the approval process for all five housing developments is expedited in a timely fashion.

The City of Nanaimo is the eighth community to partner with the Province by providing land on which to create new supportive housing developments. The other communities are Vancouver, Victoria, Kelowna, Surrey, Abbotsford, Campbell River and Maple Ridge. In total, up to 1,970 new supportive housing units have been committed through the eight MOU agreements.

The Province’s contribution to pay for predevelopment costs is part of the Provincial Homelessness Initiative, which has committed to the creation of more than 4,000 new and upgraded supportive housing units across B.C. Budget 2008 increased the amount the Province invests in affordable housing and shelters to more than $400 million a year, more than three times as much as in 2001.

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