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Photos: 'Much needed' $12M supportive housing in Burnaby almost complete

A new modular building in Burnaby will be home to 43 residents.

The residents of Sperling Place Emergency Response Centre are preparing to move into their new permanent supportive housing in Burnaby.

The new four-storey modular building at 4100 Ledger Ave. is expected to be ready for move-in by the end of the month.

"We have 43 really excited individuals waiting to call this their home," said Jaye Treit, executive director of Progressive Housing Society, which will operate the new building and provide 24-7 support to residents.

The new residents are people who have faced "a variety of challenges," according to Treit, including those who've experienced barriers to housing.

Local politicians and media toured the facility Sept. 6 before it opened to residents.

Provincial Housing Minister Ravi Kahlon said it's a "much needed" facility.

"We know that purpose-built facilities like this, around supportive housing, have better outcomes for individuals (who) need the supports, but also for the community at large," Kahlon said.

"Now we're going to have 43 individuals who are going to have not only shelter, but all the supports that come along with that, so that they can get some stability in their lives and hopefully have opportunities to reconnect with family, reconnect with community."

Supports include on-site staffing, security, meals, life-skills training and employment programs and referrals to other health and community supports.

The new building has a nurse (LPN) and a nurse practitioner that will come once a week to provide medical supports, Treit said.

Kahlon said this type of modular housing is one means to get housing built faster.

"Anything that can get housing built faster, or open faster, is something that we want to embrace," he said.

"We need to find ways to be more innovative: pre-fabrication, modular-type housing, and using mass timber in our built environment - all these tools help us get housing built faster," Kahlon added.

The City of Burnaby provided the land for the project, and BC Housing invested $11.8 million, along with an annual operating subsidy of about $1.9 million.

The original Sperling Place modular building at 3860 Sperling Ave. (in the Burnaby Lake Sports Complex parking lot), which was developed to support vulnerable populations at risk from COVID-19, is owned by BC Housing and sits on land leased from the City of Burnaby.

Sperling Place will be closed and disassembled when all the residents are moved out, and its modular units will be repurposed for a future BC Housing project, according to the release.

Treit noted there are more than 40 people at the Douglas shelter in Burnaby who all need housing. Progressive Housing also has an outreach team that works with more than 250 people or more who are homeless or at risk of losing their housing.

"There's just a great need everywhere. ... We really need a variety of housing options."