Refugee attends open house at Downtown Eastside affordable housing facility – BC

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An open house was held Saturday at a long-promised public housing building.

Opening this spring, Bob and Michael’s Place will have 231 self-contained homes alongside an integrated health centre.

One of those present at the open house was Iranian refugee Atti Houshangi, who moved to Vancouver about a year ago.

She lived in accessible accommodation.

“I’m so excited, the building is so beautiful. I’m really happy to be here,” said Houshangi.

Houshangi is a potential tenant for Bob and Michael’s Place.

The new 10-story Downtown Eastside facility offers microsuites, studios, one-bedroom suites and two-bedroom suites.

The driving force behind Bob and Michael’s Place was the need to build a community of support and kinship.

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“We have spent 13 years trying to create a place that shows care for others and how we can help improve the lives of others,” says Carol Lee of the Vancouver Chinatown Foundation.

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Carol Lee’s father, Bob Lee, and her father’s friend Michael Audain, had a vision to build homes for those who need affordable and subsidized housing.

“(But) it’s not just for housing in this area… I think what we’re trying to do is show what a model can be for social housing in Canada – the new standard. And for our project, we want to call it community housing because it took a whole community of people who cared enough to create these homes,” said Carol Lee.

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It took countless partners, but it was built and will soon welcome new residents.

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“I think we can use this as a template for other projects… I mean, there are so many community partners and corporate partners here that really have a strong voice,” said Doug Aason, director of business development for EMBERS.

EMBERS is a community partner and is a registered Canadian charity involved in the Downtown Eastside community.

The site has a complicated history.

In 2016, it was the site of a long-running homeless encampment that was eventually cleared after the city obtained a court order.

That same year, then-mayor Gregor Robertson promised homeless advocates that the parcel would be used for social housing development, with 100 percent of the homes kept at the shelter rate.

The repurposing of the project was approved in 2018.

But under the next City Council, it evolved to include half the number of shelter units, after the city said it couldn’t afford to subsidize the units alone.

Currently, the building is in the process of hiring applicants to live in the facility, and more than 650 people have signed up so far.

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— with files from Simon Little, Emily Lazatin

&copy 2024 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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