Burnaby pitches in for rental housing
Burnaby city hall is contributing more than $95,000 towards the costs of 11 units of accessible rental housing in North Burnaby.
The units will take up the second floor of a four-storey mixed-use project being planned for 4555 Hastings St., currently the site of the Dolphin Theatre.
The accessible units will be purchased by the Vancouver Resource Society, a non-profit organization that provides rental housing for people with disabilities. Established in 1972, it serves more than 150 clients and currently operates two group homes in Burnaby. It owns about 260 apartment units and 30 properties in Metro Vancouver and Victoria.
The proposed rezoning will include a requirement that a Section 219 covenant be registered on title to ensure the units continue to be used as accessible rental housing, said a city staff report.
The units will be rented at market rates of an estimated $1,038 to $1,100 for a 600-square-foot, one-bedroom unit.
Rent revenue will cover the costs of mortgage payments, property taxes, strata fees, insurance, maintenance and management, said the report. The society expects the rents to become more affordable as the mortgage is paid off over time.
The units will be wheelchair accessible and Burnaby residents will be given priority. The society plans to apply for funding from the Fraser Health Authority to provide 24-hour home support services for the tenants.
The city's contribution will come from Burnaby's housing fund, made up of a 20 per cent portion of the community benefit funds paid by developers who receive bonus density for their projects.
The money will pay for city-related costs of those 11 units—application and permit fees ($21,031), off-site servicing ($36,026) and the parkland acquisition levy ($38,100). Council turned down an additional request for $110,000 towards capital costs, as the housing fund has not been used for that in the past.
The developer, Heights Entertainment, is taking no profit on the society's portion of the project, said Coun. Colleen Jordan, chair of the city's community development committee.
Jordan noted the society is pleased at the location of the project in the Heights, where its tenants will be able to access a wide variety of community services in their own neighbourhood.
During a later discussion of the proposed implementation of the city's social sustainability strategy, Mayor Derek Corrigan called the Dolphin project a good example of one "that delivers housing for people who are often marginalized and it's a real compliment that the Vancouver Resource Society has looked to Burnaby to be able to establish something like that."
Corrigan noted the city bent its rules to ensure it could go ahead, referring to the use of a special zone to allow for the additional residential density where offices would normally be located, and it contributed financially.
"The only two parties that weren't contributing, if you noticed, were the federal and provincial governments who weren't in there at all," he said. "Over and over and over again we keep looking for partnerships with the senior levels of government but they have no [housing] strategy, they have no policy, and more often than not, they have no money."