It was the second big affordable-housing news announcement of the day for Chilliwack.
Ruth and Naomi’s Mission unveiled plans Monday to build a new six-storey Family Centre thanks to $6 million in capital funding announced by the B.C. government.
The new affordable housing project in downtown Chilliwack will feature 35 units for low-income families, constructed next to their existing mission building.
Chilliwack-Hope MLA Laurie Throness said the province is keenly aware that overly expensive housing across Lower Mainland has “bad repercussions” for low income earners.
“We are happy to announce today that we are providing Ruth & Naomi’s Mission with the means to build 35 units with $6 million in provincial funding,” said Throness.
A total of almost 5000 B.C. homes have been constructed for people on low incomes.
“I’m very proud to be part of a community that really cares about people, and part of a government that puts its money where its mouth is by announcing $17 million in one day for affordable housing,” said Throness.
Mayor Sharon Gaetz called the Family Centre a “fabulous” idea that has everyone excited.
She made a point of inviting the crowd at the RAN mission to attend the upcoming rezoning hearing at city hall for the new Family Centre.
“I want to invite each and every one of you to come to city hall, and say why you think this is a fine idea.
“For those of you who have been struggling to get housing, come out and tell us what that struggle is like in your life.”
A mission dinner guest in the crowd interrupted the mayor to ask: “So are there any restrictions to the housing?”
He unknowingly drew attention to the elephant in the room, by referring to restrictions of having to be clean and sober in order to be a resident in most types of housing.
Gaetz said she was just talking about the rezoning hearing that the legislation requires at city hall, not the qualifications for residency in the new housing.
“We can talk about that,” she said.
The complex will be constructed in the space now occupied by single-family homes at 46123 and 46135 Princess Ave. Those structures will be demolished prior to construction of the new family centre with services on the first two floors.
Chilliwack MLA John Martin praised the huge amount of work dedicated to the project.
“All over the province, jurisdictions are facing the very same challenges of lack of affordable housing, and a lack of shelter, like we are seeing in Chilliwack.”
RAN executive director Bill Raddatz said the first community information meeting Saturday on the project went well.
“They were excited and I was ecstatic about because I did not expect that,” he said.
He said the $6 million funding for RAN means a lot to them, thanked the funding partners, the board, supporter, and said the mission will continue its vision of transforming lives.
“Healthier people will make Chilliwack a healthier place to live.”
The funding announcement for RAN was part of a one-two punch for Chilliwack. A total of $17 million from BC Housing came through Monday, including the $6 million Family Centre for Ruth & Naomi’s and $11 million for the 80-unit Urban Village by MQHS.