BC Housing says plans for a supportive housing project in Central Saanich addresses an “urgent need.”
“BC Housing and non-profit partners are committed to being a good neighbour in developing new supportive housing,” said BC Housing in a statement. “Both staff and residents would be committed to keeping the property maintained with a daily clean-up, just as any other resident in the neighborhood.”
BC Housing made that promise in addressing questions about plans for 39 supportive housing units at 1909 Prosser Rd. currently drawing opposition. Signatories of an online petition question the project’s proximity to public amenities and raise the spectre of lower property values and higher crime rates.
BC Housing said “proximity to services, amenities and availability of property” determine supportive housing locations.
“Housing for people experiencing homelessness needs to meet people where they are at – by providing connection to the resources that people need to work towards living a healthy, stable life,” it reads, adding that access to services and transit are essential for people without homes. “(But) so is feeling part of a neighbourhood,” it reads. “With a remote site, there is no access to services, no regular transit access, and no integration with the community, which is essential for people who are working towards a healthy, stable life.”
BC Housing also pointed to research by a consulting company showing property values surrounding supportive housing sites have kept pace with or surpassed municipal trends.
“Linking all people who have experienced homelessness as contributing to property crime and vandalism is a stereotype that marginalizes people,” it reads, adding that people who experience homelessness are as varied as any other neighbour. “They may be seniors, people with disabilities, people who are employed but aren’t housed, or people who are working through mental health concerns and/or substance use. All residents in supportive housing have made a choice to work towards living a healthy, stable life.”
BC Housing said the site is already zoned for its intended use and the building permit has been submitted for consideration with the District of Central Saanich. BC Housing also said it reached out to key stakeholders prior to the announcement, including neighbourhood associations and local businesses, and mailed information packages to residents. It is also in the process of finalizing future public engagement.
BC Housing will purchase the land and development from a numbered company for $13.5 million, with construction scheduled to start this spring. The Capital Regional District is contributing $6 million through a federal housing grant.
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