On a day where white stuff dominated all the talk in town, Prime Minster Justin Trudeau was in Vancouver to move the conversation towards green.
Eight months removed from the federal election, Trudeau doled out close to $20 million in funding promises aimed at housing and affordability for the middle class, renters and those living below the poverty line.
The big winner of the day was the Union Gospel Mission’s Women and Families Centre, which received an $11.3-million cash injection to aid expansion plans: more beds and more programming options that include trauma counselling, recovery support, job prep classes and licensed childcare spaces.
The Women and Families Centre is a three-storey building in the Downtown Eastside that has outreach workers and offers supports such as emergency food hampers and an afterschool program.
On the second floor is what’s called “The Sanctuary,” a stabilization program for women and mothers with babies. It’s for women who want to overcome addiction or get into recovery from addiction. Currently, there’s room for up to 15 women and up to six babies in the live-in suites. Monday’s announcement will help the facility to house more than 60 suites.
“Folks in the area know that his hub has been a refuge to countless women struggling with addiction as they work towards recovery,” Trudeau said.
The Vancouver Affordable Housing Agency also got a $1.5-million top-up for modular homes that will house 600 people.
The third piece of Monday’s announcement was a $6-million contribution to Vancity’s Pre-construction Equity Loan Fund to support the development of 2,500 new rentals across Vancouver and the province. The fund provides low interest funding for affordable housing projects, offering a lower rate than other financial institutions, according to a news release from the Prime Minister’s office.
“Families who have lived in the Lower Mainland for years are forced to leave the communities they love. I hear these stories and my heart breaks,” Trudeau said. “These are hard-working Canadian who just want what their parents and grandparents had before them. In a country like Canada, we can and must do better.”
Monday’s press conference took place at a development near the Croatian Cultural Centre off Commercial Drive, where last year the federal Liberals contributed $40 million to Cressey’s “Conrad” project on East 18th Avenue.
Once completed in September, the project will include 111 rental units geared towards middle class families in two attached buildings as well as four more units in a three-storey infill townhouse and two-storey restored heritage house.
— with files from Naoibh O’Connor