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The City of Vancouver said Monday it has purchased the Days Inn motel on Kingsway near Victoria Drive in east Vancouver and will be renovating it to offer 65 supportive housing units for people who are currently homeless.
“All of these homes will provide wraparound services and support to residents,” said Mayor Kennedy Stewart. “We’ll also be providing housing to Indigenous people and women, as well as those from other marginalized communities.
“Our staff anticipate people will start moving in this November, which means fewer people outside struggling to survive another winter.”
In October, Ottawa allocated $51.5 million to Vancouver as part of a national $1 billion Rapid Housing Initiative “to help address urgent housing needs of vulnerable Canadians, especially in the context of COVID-19, through the rapid construction of affordable housing.”
Other B.C. municipalities also received funding, including Surrey ($16.4 million) and Victoria ($13.3 million). Toronto received $203.3 million.
Vancouver used part of this $51.5 million from this rapid housing funding to buy the motel at 2075 Kingsway, which is assessed at $11.9 million.
Stewart declined to give a purchase price, saying the city is negotiating to buy other properties, and the Days Inn is the first purchase.
“We can’t disclose the amount because we are still negotiating with other property owners,” he said. “We have had some bumps along the way with folks realizing we want to purchase and driving up prices, and then we have to move onto a different property.
“Eventually, the approximate numbers will come out but while we are in the middle and negotiating with this particular funding, we won’t be disclosing the amount.”
As for the remaining portion of the federal funds allocated to Vancouver, Stewart said there are other projects that the city has submitted to Ottawa for consideration.
“They have shown flexibility,” he said. “My preference is for the more permanent housing, but we still have a deadline to spend this money and get people in housing before the end of the year so we’re working with them.”
When the federal funding to Vancouver was initially announced, it was earmarked for the delivery of 135 new affordable homes.
The MP for Vancouver Centre, Hedy Fry, and Ahmed Hussen, the minister responsible for the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp., joined Stewart in making the announcement.
“Vancouver is in desperate need of affordable housing. The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us that we need to respond quickly to support our vulnerable community members,” said Fry.
— With files from Dan Fumano
Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2021