Graham McMahon, Housing Development Coordinator for PCRS, appeared in council chambers at city hall on Tuesday to ask for support for the Housing Hub idea. (Jennifer Feinberg/ The Progress)

Chilliwack offers housing hub idea support in principle

Next up is consideration by provincial reps for $500K needed to get housing hub going in Chilliwack

It was the last presentation in Chilliwack before the Housing Hub proposal is formally submitted for provincial funding.

Graham McMahon, Housing Development Coordinator for PCRS, appeared before council on Tuesday afternoon.

“Our ask for you today is for support,” said McMahon to council, after explaining the concept.

READ MORE: Housing Hub intro

The Housing Hub would take a two-pronged approach to tackling the housing crisis. One is about procuring housing for those in need, with support worker services provided in a client-centred approach. Two, it’s about generating more rental inventory and housing units, in collaboration with the development community, property owners, and other partners.

“It’s complex issue, so it requires a complex approach,” said McMahon. “But we believe it’s achievable.”

Mayor Sharon Gaetz thanked McMahon for presenting “new kind of model” to address the crisis Chilliwack is facing, and asked what level of support they had obtained from provincial reps, like Selina Robinson, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing.

“Because $500,000 is not something the municipality would be able to fund,” said Gaetz.

The housing hub would cost an estimated $500,000 to $600,000 to employ six staff people under the PCRS umbrella.

McMahon replied that city hall was the last stop in Chilliwack before they go to BC Housing with a formal application.

“Our working philosophy has been that we’d need all the supports in place behind this proposal before we go to the province,” he said.

The vast majority, or a significant number of local groups and agencies who received the housing hub presentation “are behind this model,” McMahon asserted. They range from developers, to First Nations, to Fraser Health, landlords, and the 53 agencies of the Chilliwack Healthier Community.

“One of the amazing things coming out of these conversations about the housing hub model is the willingness of organizations to supply support staff for it,” he said.

READ MORE: Community approach to problem-solving

In the end council voted to support the idea “in principle” with a motion to that effect put forward by Coun. Ken Popove.

He wanted to know what was being done in Chilliwack to date.

“Right now we have been in meetings with landlords,” McMahon said. “They have been invited to come to the table.”

Coun. Jason Lum said he’d seen the presentation previously on the hub model.

“I think it is offering a much-needed strategy for a problem we face in Chilliwack, as well as Aldergrove, Maple Ridge and all over the Fraser Valley,” said Lum, who is also FVRD chair.

Lum wanted to know what the plan was for offering wrap-around services to go along with the housing, such as mental health or addiction services, and if referring agencies were expected to provide the supports.

McMahon replied that usually those referring agencies are already providing those type of support services, and that is also part of the role to be filled by a future ‘housing support coordinator’ in the housing hub circle.

Asked if the housing hub would be a pilot project, the presenter replied that a systems-based approach had been tried in other communities. Some addressed the support component, but not the inventory side of the hub.’

“We feel this does both,” McMahon added.


 

@chwkjourno
jfeinberg@theprogress.com

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