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July 19, 2022, 8:58 am

New Homes for Indigenous Residents Supported in Part by Empty Homes Tax Revenue

City of Vancouver
VANCOUVER –  A new development that will provide more than 100 new affordable homes for Indigenous residents received approval for a grant of up to $4.8 million from the City of Vancouver yesterday.

The new homes are part of an 11-storey mixed-use building which will replace First United Church at 320 E Hastings St. The grant is for the upper seven storeys, which is where the new homes will be.

The funding is from our Community Housing Incentive Program (CHIP) and will be provided to First United Church Community Ministry Society to enhance affordability of the homes, which are being created in partnership with Lu’ma Native Housing Society.

Nearly half of the 103 new studio and one-bedroom homes will rent at shelter rate, providing much-needed affordable housing to dozens of Indigenous residents. People who identify as Indigenous continue to be vastly overrepresented in our Homeless Count results, making up 39% of Vancouver’s homeless population but only 2% of the city’s overall population.

To further create a supportive environment, tenants of the new homes will have access to First United programs and services, including the First United meal program and other amenities. These will be offered in the new purpose-built First United that will occupy the first four floors of the building. A development permit was issued for the proposed building in March 2022.

Funded by revenue from the Empty Homes Tax and our capital budget, CHIP aims to help leverage senior government funding and targets deeply affordable housing units in social or co-op housing projects by providing a capital contribution towards its construction. This is the fifth round of grants to be awarded by the $25 million program.

CHIP is a key way to deliver on the goals of Housing Vancouver by supporting the work of local non-profits who play an important role in operating and delivering housing affordable to low-income households.

Review the report approved by Council  (66 KB)

Mayor Kennedy Stewart

“Our stronger Empty Homes Tax fights speculation while giving more support to groups like First United and Lu’ma who are building housing for those that need it most,” says Mayor Kennedy Stewart. “This investment is also part of our commitment to reconciliation, with over 50 homes renting at shelter rate for Indigenous people facing homelessness.” 

Marjorie White, Vice President, Lu’ma Native Housing Society

“Lu’ma is a Coast Salish word that means “new beginnings”. We have been providing safe, quality, and affordable housing to the Indigenous community for over 40 years. Lu’ma is extremely proud to be a partner with the First United Church Community Ministry who are in alignment with Reconciliation,” says Marjorie White, Vice President, Lu’ma Native Housing Society. “We look forward to working collaboratively in providing housing, cultural supports, and wraparound services for Indigenous peoples most in-need marginalized in the Downtown Eastside.  We believe this unique model of housing development will build capacity and inspire other new innovative partnerships ensuring access to safe, affordable, and culturally appropriate housing.” 

Amanda Burrows, Acting Executive Director, First United

“When planning our redevelopment, the top two needs expressed by our community members were for housing and healing. For almost 140 years we have been responding to the needs of the neighbourhood. It was important to us to continue to respond by maximizing the potential of our site and doing our part to address the housing crisis,” says Amanda Burrows, Acting Executive Director, First United. “We’re absolutely thrilled to be partnering with Lu’ma, and to have the new First United be the pedestal for safe, secure housing in the Downtown Eastside.”


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