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New housing project for homeless opens in Vancouver

Homeless housing project opens at time when need is urgent to get homeless off the streets
The province is using modular housing like this one to house the homeless. | Rob Kruyt

What happened: A new 58-bed subsidized modular housing project in for the homeless is now open in Vancouver.

Why it matters: Addressing the homeless crisis in Vancouver has been a priority for the NDP government and City of Vancouver ­– a problem that has become particularly acute during the COVID-19 pandemic, due to the difficulty of keeping people living on the streets and in encampments like Oppenheimer Park isolated from each other and front-line workers.

The new Naomi Place modular housing project at 3598 Copley Street began taking new residents yesterday, March 23.

"Everyone deserves a safe and secure place to call home," Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister Selina Robinson said in a press release. "We are taking urgent action with our partners because when people have housing, the entire community benefits."

The project was built with $8.4 million in capital funding from the province and a land donation from the City of Vancouver. The province will provide an annual operating subsidy of $878,500.

The new three-storey modular building has 58 units, each of which has a private washroom and min-kitchen. It also provides a commercial kitchen, communal dining, laundry and medical examination rooms.

The new facility will be operated by the non-profit organization Community Builders. Residents will receive a variety of support services, including life and employment skills training. At least two staff members will be on site around the clock. Priority will be given to people living on the street.

Meanwhile, to deal with the current COVID-19 crisis, 238 beds temporary beds opened for the winter period will remain open in operation during the current pandemic.

(Editor's note: The original story has been changed to correct information contained in an original government news release. It originally stated that the federal government contributed $3.5 million to the project. The provincial government has corrected its news release. It's unclear if that means federal funding will not be available for the project.)

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