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Burnaby residents support homeless housing project as it heads to hearing

Supportive housing complex would include 52 units for vulnerable people
Norland housing map
This B.C. Housing map shows the proposed location for a 52-unit supportive housing facility.

The City of Burnaby will host a public hearing for a proposed supportive housing complex for individuals who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.

Once built, the supportive housing facility would be the first of its kind in Burnaby. The province has committed to spending $7.6 million to build 52 units on a city-owned lot at 3986 Norland St. B.C. Housing hopes to begin work on the site in October and finish construction in March 2019, but first the property must be rezoned.

If the limited number of responses at recent open houses are a reliable harbinger, speakers at the Aug. 28 hearing will be overwhelmingly in favour of the proposal.

At a series of open houses hosted by BC Housing at the Bill Copeland Community Centre last month, 31 people left comments about the project described in a series of display boards and by representatives from the organizations involved. Of those, 25 supported it, two opposed it and two contained questions or did not express an opinion either way.

According to a City of Burnaby report, the three most common comments made were “Burnaby needs this type of housing,” “important services are provided” and “vulnerable people need help.”

The report also addresses four of the most common areas of concern for those who submitted questions:

wSecurity: Both main operators, “BC Housing and the Progressive Housing Society (PHS) advise that many measures will be put in place to address safety and security concerns.” Those measures would include 24-7 staffing, security features (“such as lighting, fencing and secured access”) and a requirement that tenants sign an agreement addressing “appropriate and respectful behaviour.”

wTenant selection: BC Housing, PHS and Fraser Health would lead the process to find the Burnaby residents best suited for the facility and its programs. They would have to be locals who “who are experiencing or at risk of homelessness and are committed to pursuing a healthy and stable lifestyle.”

wManagement: All on-site services would be run by PHS, a local non-profit that supports some of the city’s most vulnerable people. 

wServices: “Support services include life skills training, employment assistance, help with accessing a range of social and health care services, meals service, amenity spaces, and residence management.”

The Aug. 28 hearing is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. at Burnaby city hall.

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