The goal is to build the inventory of affordable housing in Chilliwack — for the homeless or those at risk.
Chilliwack Housing for Homeless Foundation is ready to go, formed by a board of real estate and construction professionals who estimate they can house someone in need for as little as $35,000.
“There’s very little if any overhead, which will allow us to provide housing to various community groups at affordable prices,” said Alex MacDonald of Remax Reality who made a presentation to council in chambers Tuesday.
They won’t provide any services, just residential properties that they will purchase, fix up, and then turn over to community groups to administer.
That’s why when a donation is made to them, “it goes right into bricks and mortar,” he underlined.
It became crystallized that it was a serious issue needing attention when he was confronted with people sleeping a cardboard container in a building that he owned.
“It became clear, as it has to the community, that it’s not the province’s or the federal government’s problem, but everyone’s problem,” he said.
It took the foundation some time to come to fruition, and get the necessary approvals.
“But we’ve met all the criteria and we’re here now.”
They purchased a unit in the spring of last year to get started. They have some assets in the bank.
Over time they want to build equity and end up like the Chilliwack Foundation with millions in assets, to become a player on the Chilliwack scene “to help,” he said.
MacDonald presented the cold stats: More men than women are homeless. Most have mental health issues, and/or addictions.
In 2008 there were 98 people homeless according to a homeless count done Fraser Valley wide, and that number rose to 111 in 2011. Those numbers never include couch-surfers or anyone who lives in their car.
“It’s an exciting time, going forward as we take it to the next level,” he told council.
Coun. Stam thanked him for the “Herculean task” of pulling together the foundation at the side of their desks, and said he’d support it any way they could.
“Seeing a group of people come together and act on a need is truly appreciated,” he said. “Affordable housing is the missing piece at the end of that continuum of care, since without a home, they’re right back to square one and it’s a vicious cycle.”
Mayor Sharon Gaetz noted that there was a need in the community, and they didn’t wait for someone else to pick up the slack.
“You said, someone can do it. Here I am,” she added.