Vancouver councillor calls for doubling of city's modular housing stock

A Vancouver city councillor is calling on the province to double the number of temporary modular homes in the city.

Coun. Jean Swanson will bring a motion to council next week directing city staff to find a location for an additional 600 modular housing units for the homeless.

The motion also calls on the mayor to work with the province to secure funding for the units.

“This year, the homeless count was higher than it’s ever been, 2,181 in Vancouver,” said Swanson.

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“In the last two years, we’ve lost I think at least 500 units of low-income housing, mostly (single-room occupany hotels). We’ve had 600 units of modular housing open — which is great, people love it — but it’s just barely keeping pace.”

The estimate of 500 lost units comes from a 2017 report by the Carnegie Community Action Project.

The City of Vancouver is already home to 606 units of modular housing, paid for with $66 million in provincial funding and secured using city-owned land.

Swanson said the timing of the motion was intended to get the request in before the NDP government crafts its 2019 budget.

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Swanson says she’s hopeful the city will be able to take advantage of some of the $291 million the province has already committed to build 2,000 modular housing units around B.C.

Asked whether it was fair for the province to fund a second round of modular housing in Vancouver before investing in other communities around B.C., Swanson said the fact remains that even with the city’s existing units, more than 2,000 people remain without shelter.

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“I know there’s a lot of homeless people around the rest of the province. We shouldn’t be fighting each other for units,” she said.

“The government should be taxing the rich to get the money to provide enough money for modular housing or decent housing for everybody.”

Global News has requested comment from the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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