Thursday July 9, 2020 ~ SOOKE, BC [Updated July 10, 2020]
by Mary Brooke ~ West Shore Voice News
Construction is underway on eight new affordable rental homes for people in Sooke through a partnership between the Government of B.C. and M’akola Housing Society.
“We are working with our partners to make sure people in Sooke and communities throughout the province have safe homes with rents they can afford,” said Premier John Horgan, MLA for Langford-Juan de Fuca which includes the Sooke region. “We know there’s more work to do, but thanks to partners like M’akola Housing Society, we are delivering the homes that people need.”
Conversion of existing commercial units:
Located at 6750 West Coast Road — just west of town centre — the units are in an existing building called the Hope Centre, which currently provides 25 homes for youth and adults who have experienced or were at risk of homelessness.
“The ground floor thrift store will continue to be operated by the Saint Vincent de Paul Society,” says the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing. “The three commercial units on the second and third floors will be converted to affordable rental housing. These units are now vacant. The decision to convert these units predated COVID-19.”
The Province, through BC Housing, is providing $1.5 million in construction financing to the society to convert three commercial units in the building into the eight new homes.
The District of Sooke tax base is already short on commercial strength, so this shift to providing more residential may indicate a further trend to the ‘bedroom community’ status of the town which lies 20 km beyond Langford and 35 km beyond Victoria.
Local mayor supports affordable housing:
“In Sooke, we know that where and how people live affects the well-being and character of our entire community,” said Sooke Mayor Maja Tait in a news release. “These new affordable rental homes reflect our long-standing approach to affordable housing, one that not only helps renters, but also offers a host of benefits to the local economy and community. This is a timely investment and one we’re grateful for.”
Tait was in attendance at the opening of the Hope Centre several years ago, and has seen the evolution of the impact of the building in the community.
Rents in the $600 to $700 range:
Monthly rents of the new units are projected to range between approximately $600 (studio) and $700 (one bedroom). The new homes are expected to be complete by late October 2020.
The M’akola Housing Society describes The Hope Centre is a mixed-used housing, education, training, support and social service/thrift store building designed to provide layers of complementary support to the homeless and homeless-at-risk youth populations of the community of Sooke, with a focus on Aboriginal persons.
M’akola has until now described the ground floor includes commercial space, while the remaining three floors is comprised of 25 residential units and 3,445 sq ft of non-profit/serve-oriented office space.
“We are proud to have found an innovative way to add new eight new homes to this housing project in Sooke,” said Kevin Albers, CEO, M’akola Housing Society. “Affordable housing is a valued addition to every community, and we are excited that our partnerships with the Province and community of Sooke have made this possible.”
Partnerships in housing:
The Province continues to work with partners to address the housing needs of people in Sooke, including those who are experiencing homelessness. In partnership with the District of Sooke, plans were recently announced for a new temporary shelter, located on a private piece of land, to provide vulnerable people with a safe place to stay while permanent housing is underway.
Delivering affordable housing is a shared priority between government and the BC Green Party caucus and is part of the Confidence and Supply Agreement.
Other projects in the works:
In addition to the eight new homes at the Hope Centre, the Province is working in partnership with the federal government and Capital Regional District to build 245 new affordable rental homes in the Sooke core area for people with a range of incomes: 75 homes, including 15 shelter-rate homes, at 2170 Charters Road and 170 homes (including 34 shelter-rate homes) at 6480 Drennan St.