Empty Homes Tax revenue to support proposed Vancouver housing project for Indigenous families and seniors

AN Indigenous-led social housing development that would provide 81 new homes for families and seniors received approval for a grant of up to $5.12 million from the City of Vancouver on Tuesday.

The grant – from the City’s Community Housing Incentive Program (CHIP) – will go to Vancouver Native Housing Society (VNHS) to enhance affordability of a proposed development at 1766 Frances Street in the Grandview-Woodland neighbourhood.

The proposed building would create much-needed homes at affordable rents for dozens of Indigenous people and families. People who identify as Indigenous continue to be vastly overrepresented in the City’s Homeless Count results, making up 39 per cent of Vancouver’s homeless population but only two per cent of the city’s overall population.

“Vancouver Native Housing Society is thrilled to be selected as a recipient of this grant. For 24 of the former residents of 1766 Frances Street, who were forced to flee their homes on December 20, 2017 because of a devastating fire, it brings the possibility to return to their home community in safe, appropriate, housing that much closer to reality,” said David Eddy, CEO, VNHS.

“For 20 children who will be enrolled in a unique, purpose built, Indigenous-focused childcare it offers the opportunity for them to celebrate and learn from theirs and others’ cultures in a loving, warm and supportive environment. For 50 other individuals and families who will call 1766 Frances Street home, the completion of this building will offer many benefits and comforts, not the least of which will be dignified, affordable, high quality shelter in a culturally appropriate, spiritually rich environment. The City of Vancouver’s CHIP grant is a great weapon in the war to create affordable housing”.

“Once again, we’re combining revenue from the Empty Homes Tax with non-profit expertise to help deliver housing for our neighbours who need it most,” said Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart. “Our partnership with Vancouver Native Housing Society will strengthen the lives of 81 families and seniors and help get us closer to a Vancouver that works for everyone.”

Council approved the building’s rezoning at Public Hearing in February 2021 and VNHS will be applying for a development permit later this year.

Funded by revenue from the Empty Homes Tax and the City’s capital budget, CHIP aims to helps leverage senior government funding and targets deeply affordable housing units in social or co-op housing projects by providing a capital contribution towards its construction. This is the third round of grants to be awarded by the $25 million program.

CHIP is a key way to deliver on the goals of Housing Vancouver by supporting the work of local non-profits who play an important role in operating and delivering housing affordable to low-income households.

Read the report approved by Council here.