Sullivan praises Victoria’s plan for social housing

From the Vancouver Province
Mayor Sam Sullivan has welcomed news that Victoria will build a dozen new social-housing projects in Vancouver.
B.C. Housing Minister Rich Coleman said last week the province is willing to fund a mixture of supportive housing for those grappling with mental illness, drug addiction and affordable rental housing.

Coleman said the housing could be built in as little as a year or two, with Victoria fronting design costs and sharing the construction costs.
He hasn’t said how much Victoria is willing to spend on new social housing. In June, Victoria inked a 30-year deal with Ottawa to take over 51,000 federal social-housing units. In return, Ottawa will transfer $140 million to the province in the project’s first year.
Coleman did not respond to Province requests for an interview Friday.
The provincial commitment is “a very significant development with social housing,” said Sullivan. “It will be very good news for all those who are worried about the homelessness issue.”
Sullivan met with Coleman a week ago, but won’t disclose details of their discussion. He did say Coleman endorsed his goal of halving homelessness in Vancouver in time for the 2010 Winter Olympics.
Sullivan said, for its part, the city will offer up 19 sites reserved for social housing, most of them located in the downtown core and outside the Downtown Eastside.
“We are committed to purchasing and providing the land. As far as other contributions, we’re going to be flexible,” he said.
Sullivan recently hired former city manager Ken Dobell and Don Fairbairn, an expert in public-private partnerships, to attract private-sector dollars for social-housing projects.
“We recognize this is ultimately a responsibility of the federal and provincial government,” said Sullivan. “But Vancouver wants to be at the table, doing everything we can to make sure these housing units get built.”
The city’s Homelessness Action Plan calls for 800 new social-housing units a year. This year, only about 250 units will have been built.
Coun. Tim Stevenson, Vision Vancouver’s housing critic, said the city should offer the sites, but not pay for any construction costs.
Colleen Cameron, press secretary to federal Housing Minister Diane Finley, said Finley will join Sullivan’s “leadership council” on reducing homelessness.
Byline: John Bermingham
Vancouver Province
Sunday December 17, 2006