September 21, 2017 12:43 am

40 modular housing units. 600 more coming. Still not enough for Vancouver’s homeless: critics

Vancouver city council has voted to fast-track its modular homes program and have 600 units ready in time for winter. As Nadia Stewart reports, that’s generating both praise and criticism.

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Forty modular units stacked three stories high.

Hundreds more coming down the pike.

None of them enough to meet the needs of Vancouver’s homeless population, critics told Global News.

WATCH: Construction begins on Vancouver’s one of a kind modular home project

The City of Vancouver has set up a temporary modular housing project on city-owned land at 220 Terminal Avenue.

It includes 40 units that have kitchens, shared laundry, bathrooms and communal outdoor and indoor amenity spaces intended for low-income residents.

The project was completed in February 2017.

READ MORE: New temporary modular housing units could help with Vancouver’s affordability crisis

“We do need these temporary fixes like modular housing,” Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson told Global News.

“We’ve got to get people off the street.”

Several similar projects are on the way after the provincial government set aside $291 million for homes like these ones over the next two years.

That could help the city meet its goal of bringing 600 more units online by the end of the year.

The interior of a unit at a modular housing project in Vancouver.

Global News

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But it’s still not enough to please critics like Jean Swanson, a housing advocate-turned-city council byelection candidate.

“Six-hundred units a year, for three years, that’s only 1,800,” she told Global News.

“We already have 2,138 homeless people, so it’s not enough.”

The number of homeless people in the city quoted by Swanson was the finding of the City of Vancouver’s latest homeless count, conducted on March 8.

Meanwhile, Melissa De Genova, a city councillor with the Non-Partisan Association (NPA), said she doesn’t want to see modular housing become “permanent Band-Aids” instead of searching for a solution to homelessness.

Homeless numbers in the city are “higher than ever before,” she said.

But the modular housing units have drawn more praise from the people who are living in them.

One resident said that living in the project has been a “game-changer.”

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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