Nanaimo affordable housing organizations receive financial boost

NANAIMO – Provincial government committing $18.2 million toward affordable housing projects in Nanaimo.

A handful of affordable housing projects in the Harbour City will receive a financial boost from the provincial government.

Earlier this week, the B.C. government announced a funding commitment of $516 million toward 68 low-income housing projects that are expected to create roughly 2,900 new units across the province.

A total of $18.2 million has been allocated toward projects headed by four Nanaimo organizations.

Among the recipients are the Nanaimo Affordable Housing Society, Mount Benson Senior Citizens Housing Society, Nanaimo Association for Community Living and the Vancouver Island Mental Health Society.

The Nanaimo Affordable Housing Society will receive $8.5 million from the provincial government to help pay for a housing expansion project on Buttertubs Drive that will create 50 units for seniors.

“The province put a lot of money on the table, which we are really happy about,” said Jim Spinelli, executive director for the affordable housing society. “Proposals from all around the province were accepted and so there is quite a lot of buzz.”He said the Buttertubs expansion project is still in the very early planning stages and that the total number of units could be higher than 50 as the final design has not been completed.

“We are going to try and get as many units as we can into the first phase,” he said.

The Nanaimo Association for Community Living will receive $2.6 million to help pay for an affordable housing project on Uplands Drive that will create 16 units for low-income individuals and 10 units for adults with developmental disabilities.

Graham Morroy, the association’s executive director, called the funding announcement “fantastic” and said the extra money will benefit the community, although he wasn’t able to provide specific information about the housing project as it still needs to be approved, but added it will create 26 new affordable housing units.

Meanwhile, the Mount Benson Senior Citizens Housing Society will receive $5.5 million for a project that will create 55 units for low-income seniors and the Vancouver Island Mental Health Society is expected to receive $1.7 million for a project that will create an estimated 22 units.

However, the funding for the mental health society’s project had been previously announced by the B.C. government earlier this year.While the additional funding is good news, Spinelli said roughly 4,000 people in Nanaimo receive the provincial housing assistance allowance rate of $375 but only around 500 subsidized units are in the city.He said more needs to be done and that the current round of funding won’t help those who are receiving the provincial housing allowance.

“We’re not going have any units, for instance, that are going to be as low as $375 a month, which is what the province gives people for shelter because there is no subsidies that come with [Buttertubs expansion] project,” Spinelli said. “Any of my projects that house people at the deep-core need are all subsidized projects, so we get an ongoing subsidy from the provincial and that is not going to happen here. So there is still a huge need for housing.”