The City of Vancouver has opened its latest temporary modular housing project in East Vancouver.
The new Sarah Ross House near Kaslo Street and East 29th Avenue includes 52 units of supportive housing, and will offer round-the-clock services to residents.
With the opening of the new units, the City of Vancouver has now brought 208 of a promised 600 units of temporary modular housing online.
It says a further 350 units on five sites are underway.
“When people have a safe place for their belongings, a place to lock up their shopping cart and a good meal at least once a day, they [start] to stabilize,” said Vancouver Deputy Mayor Heather Deal.
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Atira Women’s Resource Society will operate the building. CEO Janice Abbott said getting the services online as quickly as possible is crucial, particularly in the face of the opioid overdose crisis.
She said that need was brought home this week when seven would-be tenants of the new facility died of suspected drug overdoses.
“We need to do more than just provide housing, we need to provide a safe supply of drugs for the people we work with if we want to keep them alive and to get them into a place like this,” she said.
Sara Ross House gets its name from an early resident of Vancouver’s Collingwood neighbourhood. Sarah Ross of the Neskonlith Indian Band fled Kamloops to escape racism, and lived in the area until her death in the 1950s.
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The new housing is being built with funding from the provincial government.
Last September, Premier John Horgan pledged to spend $66 million on 600 units of modular housing in Vancouver.
Those units are part of a larger promise to bring 2,000 units of modular housing online across B.C. at a cost of $291 million to build, and a further $172 million to operate.
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