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3 min read

A Community Concept for Social Housing

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By truly listening to a community, the Art of the possible becomes clear.
BC Housing has ignored and distorted community feedback on the W7th/W8th and Arbutus site for over a year.  With much of the community frustrated by not being heard or feedback and offers of help not being acknowledged or explored, Kitsilano Coalition sought to take an opportunity, that BC Housing has ignored for a year.
We proposed to show a Social Housing solution that could not only house more than the currently proposed 129 residents, (in this example 149),  but also meet the needs of the residents, and integrate with the community.    
This building could be built without a rezoning process.
We reviewed whether community infrastructure could be inclusive of families, children and the elderly and able to support a wide variety of people of different means and needs. 
We brought together willing community stakeholders, who understood there is something better.
  1. To hear what concerned them, without dismissing it. 
  2. To hear what ideas they had, and consider them.
  3. To ask what resources they could bring to help.
How could Kitsilano Coalition accomplish this, when BC Housing has not despite many opportunities?  
  • By studying research on what is the best outcome for the potential residents. 
  • By listening to the research and the experience of experts like Dr. Julian Somers & Tom Gove. 
  • By hearing the needs of existing supportive housing tenants looking to move forward with their recovery journey.
  • By listening to the needs of existing Social Housing/Co-Op residents and their housing needs
  • By listening to the schools about the needs for the safety and health of their vulnerable children
  • By listening to the adjacent church about what Social Justice programs they can and have offered for the community
  • By understanding the existing homeless community and what they need and want.
  • Basically, by understanding the community.
Then with the time and talent and resources of volunteers, we were able to deliver this concept, to show the concept of a physical building, which could be built without any rezoning, meaning this concept could commence becoming a reality without delay. This is an option BC Housing has ignored since April 2021.
Aside from this animation showing how the quality of life, street flow, building size, traffic and safety and health of the community is  enhanced, we also were able to address and take opportunities not able to be shown in the animation to:
  • Provide a diverse mixed-use building, to support over 149 people (vs 129 with the current proposal), including singles, couples, elderly, family, disabled and homeless.
  • Provide a second-level housing option for women leaving Sancta Maria House to reunite with Children
  • Address school children's safety and traffic, but also offer opportunities to children who live in the building at the schools
  • Engage Dr. Julian Somers and team to assist to support the optimal 5% of tenants needing their support, as per best practices for recovery.
  • Engage a social justice team from the local church, who could support Emergency Weather Shelter for the homeless on site, since the previous site was demolished for development.
  • Engage local BIA's to support Social Employment programs for tenants seeking work and programs for skills.  Achievable with a smaller diverse site.
  • Engagement from local Co-Op boards and tenants, for support with best practices for a diverse building.
The above is just a sampling of what has been offered, and we know there is more to give from the community.  We ask the City of Vancouver to reject the current rezoning and ask the applicant to engage the community, which Kitsilano Coalition can facilitate if needed, to provide a Social Housing building on this site, which can be an example for the City, Province now and beyond.