Nelson Housing development secures capital funding
By Timothy Schafer, The Nelson Daily
After almost four years of waiting and planning the Anderson Street project for Nelson’s homeless finally received a green light from the Province late Tuesday afternoon.
The approval and $3.8 million in capital to build a 33-unit project to support people in Nelson who are at risk of homelessness came after several months of discussions between the Province, the City of Nelson and the Canadian Mental Health Association.
With the details now finalized on the development for 308-314 Anderson St., the Province will contribute approximately $3.2 million (as an infrastructure grant) as well as land equity valued at $675,000.
“This development is a welcomed and essential step towards breaking the cycle of homelessness,” said Mayor John Dooley in a press release on the announcement.
The announcement breaks the cycle of speculation and silence after the project first appeared on City council’s table in late 2007. After receiving tentative approval and an endorsement from council April 28 of 2008, the project was soon caught up in red tape while federal and provincial elections played out.
In December of 2008, despite pockets of protest in the Anderson Street neighbourhood, the supportive housing developers — Canadian Mental Health Association-Kootenays (CMHA) — were adamant construction would begin in the spring of 2009.
It didn’t and no answers were given, even though BC Housing — the funding agent for the development — viewed the project as a top priority on their project endorsement list.
In June of 2009 the project was still on the table with BC Housing but it was dealt a blow later in the year when it was determined it did not fit under the fence for the federal infrastructure development package.
That meant the project was not able to have costs shared between federal and provincial levels of government.
The CMHA is still expected to manage and operate the development. CMHA–Kootenays is a non-profit organization that raises awareness and promoted the mental health of all people through the provision of services, programming, advocacy and public education.
CMHA-Kootenays executive director Janice Ivan said the need for this type of housing in the city was growing.
“Upon completion, these apartments will help ease this growing demand, giving our organization the opportunity to provide housing and support to those that need it,” she said.
The project is expected to achieve a LEED gold standard design and could take 14 months to complete. Once finished, the 33 apartment style units would be 430 square feet of private space with a large bathroom and shower, a small kitchen, a living room and a storage space.
The three-storey building would include a dining room for residents as well as other supportive services.
The Province will invest over $562 million in 2010-11 to provide affordable housing and fight homelessness — more than four times as much as in 2001.
In Nelson, more than $2 million of that funding will provide 293 subsidized housing units and rental assistance for around 85 low-income families and seniors.
Breaking the Cycle of Homelessness is a website providing a comprehensive and detailed look at provincial programs and services to address homelessness.
For more information, visit: www.bchousing.org/breakingthecycle