Surrey will benefit from a $16.4 million Rapid Housing Initiative in federal funding that will see 44 new affordable homes constructed in this city, in Whalley, for vulnerable women.
Surrey in partnership with Atira Women’s Resource Society is developing new modular housing apartments at 9145 King George Boulevard, that will be owned and operated by Atira Women’s Resource Society.
Ahmed Hussen, minister of families, children and social development and minister responsible for Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), made the announcement from Toronto through livestream at 9 a.m. Monday, March 15.
“I know that we’re all excited about this announcement,” Hussen said. “We know that every Canadian deserves a safe and affordable place to call home, but for far too many, they’re made to make the impossible choice between paying rent and buying groceries.”
The COVID-19 pandemic, he said, has “not only underscored, but made worse” the need and housing challenges faced by Canadians. “The reality is the populations who are most at risk are also more likely to find themselves in precarious housing situations in our major cities around the country.”
Hussen said the housing will serve women who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.
Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum participated in the announcement, along with Surrey Centre Liberal MP Randeep Sarai, and Rachna Singh, NDP MLA for Surrey-Green Timbers and provincial parliamentary secretary for anti-racism initiatives.
Sarai noted Surrey, like other large Canadian cities, is “dealing with the devastating impact of rising levels of homelessness, and housing need.”
“The COVID-19 pandemic has only worsened the problem.”
McCallum said the project will be completed this year, with shovels in the ground by June, and residents will be moving in next January. The provincial government will provide annual funding over 20 years.
Singh said the “final dollar amount remains to be determined.”
“Every person deserves the dignity and safety of having four walls and a roof over their head,” she said.
McCallum noted homelessness is a complex challenge at the best of times but is amplified during a pandemic. He said this project will provide “wrap-around services, integrated health supports and a daily meal program that will help residents get back on their feet.”
The Surrey mayor said homelessness has held “fairly steady” in Surrey and four homeless shelters are under construction in the city, with three “just about completed” and one already completed. “And so we’re providing a lot of housing for the homeless,” he said.
“We’re working very, very hard in Surrey to deal with the homeless situation,” McCallum said.