What is the intake and assessment process for the proposed supportive housing residence?

    Individuals will go through an in-depth intake and assessment process with Purpose Society as to their suitability for supportive housing, including their comfort living in a communal setting, their receptivity to engage in supports, and their willingness to sign a commitment as to these and other expectations.

    How will the residence be staffed?

    During the daytime, there will be a minimum of four staff, two per floor. This will be supplemented by outside professionals and volunteers coming to the residence to provide a variety of programs and supports. It is expected that all residents will be involved in some type of day program or supports either inside the residence or in the community. 

    Overnight, there will be two staff; one on each floor. One staff member will be a Mental Health Worker and the other staff member will be a Support Worker.

    What types of supports will be offered at the residence?

    The residence will provide supports to assist individuals with their successful tenancy and transition to more independent living. Supports will include services related budgeting and life skills, counselling and health, education and employment readiness, meal preparation and nutrition, and community connections and referral.

    What is the difference between the proposed supportive housing residence and the nightly shelter on Front Street?

    The proposed supportive housing residence:

    • Provides longer-term housing (up to a year) whereas the nightly shelter provides short-term, temporary housing.
    • Incorporates an in-depth intake and assessment process, and requires a commitment on behalf of the resident to a set of expectations or rules whereas the nightly shelter accepts individuals on a first-come, first serve basis.
    • Offers a range of supports whereas the nightly shelter provides limited to no supports.
    • Consists of individual units whereas the nightly shelter consists of a dorm arrangement.

    Will individuals who are active in their addiction be housed?

    The residence will accommodate individuals who are not active in their addiction. There are a number of significant differences between supportive housing, which is proposed, and an overdose prevention or supervised consumption site, which is not proposed:

    • Supportive housing is residential housing intended for individuals who have made the decision to move into a more stable place and are receptive to engaging in supports.
    • Supportive housing provides supports for the individuals who are residents of the building.
    • An overdose prevention or supervised consumption site provides a short-term service for individuals who are active in their addiction and who are looking to reduce the harm associated with their drug use.
    • An overdose prevention or supervised consumption site serves the larger community.

    What happens if a resident relapses with regard to drug use?

    If a resident relapses, supportive housing staff will attempt to address the situation while maintaining their current housing. If the situation cannot be addressed, they will be referred to another type of housing (e.g., minimal-barrier emergency shelter) or to a recovery or treatment program. If the resident stabilizes their situation and the issue is in a managed state, then they may be eligible to return.

    Will residents be able to smoke cigarettes at the residence?

    Residents will not be allowed to smoke cigarettes in their units. Accommodation for smoking cigarettes will be made in the rear parking lot; however, it will be screened from sight with privacy fencing and partially covered to provide refuge from the elements.

    Why are shared bathrooms and kitchens being proposed?

    Shared facilities such as bathrooms and kitchens, as well as a number of other communal areas and supports, are proposed given the transitional nature of the housing (up to a year). Further, the age of the building (1962) means it would be difficult to integrate a large number of private bathrooms and kitchens. Shared facilities will also help to maximize the total number of supportive housing units (up to 30).

    Will the proposed supportive housing residence contribute to littering, loitering and the presence of human waste?

    The individuals living in the residence will be housed for up to a year; have access to bathrooms and kitchens; have trash receptacles in their individual units; have televisions and other entertainment; and have access to a range of supports. These features will assist in limiting external issues.

    Why was a location close to a licensed child care proposed?

    Given the small geographic size of New Westminster (15.6 sq. km.), the large number of amenities serving families, and the necessity of housing and social services, these uses are unable to be physically distanced from each other. Of note, there are 86 licensed child cares and pre-schools, 19 public and private schools, 23 parks with playgrounds, and 53 parks and plazas in New Westminster.

    What is the need for supportive housing and how does it fit into the housing continuum?

    The City’s Housing Needs Report (June 2021) identified the need for 358 supportive housing units between 2021 and 2031. Of this number, 52 units are being developed at 68 Sixth Street, with an occupancy date in mid-2024 or early-2025. These units will account for 14.5% of the needed total. The up to 30 units proposed for 422 Sixth Street, if approved, will account for 8.4% of the needed total. Currently, no other supportive housing units are proposed. If these up to 82 units are realized; there will be a deficit of 276 units and a much smaller window of time in which to realize them.

    Supportive housing is part of the housing continuum, which includes the following housing forms which are essential to meeting the shelter and housing needs of all residents: emergency shelter, supportive, non-market or social, market rental, strata-titled (or ownership), as well as assisted, congregate and complex care. Providing housing across this continuum helps to address homelessness and housing affordability issues across the city.

    Is supportive or transitional housing defined in the Residential Tenancy Regulation and what are the implications of this form of housing for tenants?

    Under Section 1 of the Residential Tenancy Regulation, “transitional housing” means living accommodation that is provided:

    1. on a temporary basis;
    2. by a person or organization that receives funding from a local government or the government of British Columbia or Canada for the purpose of providing accommodation; and,
    3. together with programs intended to assist tenants to become better able to live independently.

    Living accommodation must meet all the criteria in the definition of “transitional housing” under Section 1 of the Regulation to be excluded from the Residential Tenancy Act. As the proposed supportive housing residence meets these criteria, it would be excluded from the Act.

    Why is residential being permitted in a business district as this will lead to a loss of office space?

    The site’s existing zoning currently permits housing units above the ground storey without the need for a rezoning. The type of housing (supportive housing) which includes support services is not currently a permitted use under the existing zoning. As such, a rezoning is required to permit the specific type of housing being requested.  

    The basement and first storey use of the building will continue to be used for office and support uses as currently permitted under existing zoning and in alignment with the commercial role of Sixth Street.

    How is this development consistent with the Official Community Plan (OCP)?

    The Mixed Use - High Rise (MH) designation in the OCP anticipates low-mid- and high-rise commercial or commercial and residential mixed-use buildings, which create active and engaging principal streets. The proposal is consistent with the OCP in that building remains a three-level building and will be used for a mix of commercial and residential uses.

    The proposed development is also consistent with the policies in the OCP which speak to diversifying the housing stock; providing options to help address homelessness, including those at-risk; and facilitating access to affordable and non-market housing for low-to-moderate income households.

    Why was the consultation process expedited for this application?

    This rezoning will allow the applicant to access $5.3 million dollars of Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) funding for capital costs under the Rapid Housing Initiative, as well as 20 years of operating funding from BC Housing to support the viability of the project. The funding relies on achieving timelines that require the adoption of the zoning amendment bylaw by the beginning of July.  While the City has responded quickly to this application, the process has been consistent with the process for similar applications to amend permitted uses; has offered an opportunity for the community to provide feedback for Council to consider in making their decision; and been consistent with the obligations of the Local Government Act. 

    Why was the notice only provided to residents within 100 meters of the development and why were residents only given 14 days to respond to the survey?

    This is a standard distance and timeframe for City-led engagement. The City’s notification area is significantly larger than the 100 feet required by the Local Government Act. A notice was also posted in the New West Record, and an additional letter of clarification was provided.

    Have Good Neighbour Agreements and Community Advisory Committees been considered for the proposed supportive housing residence?

    Good Neighbour Agreements have been used in the past, including with regard to addressing issues associated with social services and working with nearby businesses and residents to minimize impacts on the neighbourhood. Community Advisory Committees (CACs) have also been used, including in relation to the Health Contact Centre and Mazarine Lodge, with the latter being a supportive housing residence. CACs build and maintain positive relations; facilitate collaboration and information sharing; identify opportunities to welcome and involve clients or guests in the community; and resolve issues related to management and operation.

    What is supportive housing?

    Supportive housing provides long-term housing in a purpose-designed building, to enable occupants to live more independently within the community. This type of housing incorporates a range of support services, which address the needs of the occupants who are looking to transition out of severe housing need and become more independent members of the community.

    Who will operate the supportive housing project?

    The project would be operated by the Lower Mainland Purpose Society, an experienced non-profit agency with a long history (i.e., incorporated in 1983) and legacy of collaboration with the City of New Westminster. Collaborations include the Health Contact Centre (Overdose Prevention Site), the Local Immigration Partnership Council, the Peer Assist Care Team for Mental Wellbeing, the Purpose Emergency Shelter, the ID Replacement Clinic, and the Rent Bank Program. As such, Purpose Society offers a continuum of services with a focus on the most vulnerable, including those who are unhoused.

    Who will fund the project?

    The applicant has applied to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s (CMHC) Rapid Housing Initiative for $5,350,000 to support the project’s capital costs (to renovate the interior of the building). The funding relies on achieving timelines that require the adoption of the zoning amendment bylaw by the beginning of July. To achieve this milestone, staff are proposing to expedite the rezoning timeline while still providing the same opportunities for public input and meeting the City’s obligations under the Local Government Act.

    BC Housing would also provide funding for program delivery and operational supports for 20+ years. 

    Who would live in the proposed project?

    The proposed project would provide safe and affordable homes for individuals with low-incomes who have experienced homelessness or who are at risk of homelessness, and who would benefit from programming to assist with their successful tenancy. Specifically, this proposed housing would offer qualified individuals a range of services to build life skills, self-esteem and independence. It would also offer referrals to community-based services and assist occupants in integrating back into the community.

    What is the need for this type of housing?

    The City’s Housing Needs Report, completed in 2021 and updated in 2022, indicates the need for 358 new supportive housing units between 2021 and 2031. Since the completion of this report, 52 new units have been proposed for 68 Sixth Street. The proposed project would result in up to 30 new supportive housing units which, along with the proposal at 68 Sixth Street, would make considerable progress towards meeting the City’s supportive housing needs. 

    What is the approvals process for this project?

    The site is currently zoned Community Commercial Districts (High Rise) (C-3) (C-3A). Although the existing zones permit housing units above the ground floor, given the shared facilities and supports, the use is considered as Supportive Housing as defined within the City’s Zoning Bylaw. This use is not currently permitted. A rezoning is required to permit Supportive Housing units on the site, which will be based on the C-3 and C-3A zones. Council approval is required for the rezoning. 

    What are the opportunities for the public’s input?

    City-led consultation on the proposed rezoning is active until May 24, 2023. City-led consultation includes an online survey on this page. Residents within 100 metres of the project address were notified of the survey, and an invitation to participate will be posted in one issue of the New West Record newspaper on May 14. The City-led consultation is an opportunity for public input before the project proposal is finalized and presented to Council for consideration of approval.

    What are the City policies in support of this project?

    The proposed project is supportive of a number of City policies and priorities related to decreasing homelessness and enhancing housing diversity, choice and affordability. 

    For example, the City’s Official Community Plan, which was adopted by Council in 2017, speaks to diversifying the housing stock, providing options to help address homelessness, including those at-risk, and facilitating access to affordable and non-market housing for low-to-moderate income households. The project is also considered to be in keeping with the Mixed Use – High Rise OCP land use designation for the site, which allows for low- mid- and high-rise commercial or commercial and residential mixed-use buildings, which create active and engaging principal streets.

    Furthermore, the City’s recently adopted 2022 Homelessness Action Strategy also incorporates a vision where all residents can locate affordable and secure housing; where there is an adequate income and opportunities for employment, including supported, to maintain one’s housing; and, where there are services and supports to assist the unsheltered and precariously housed.

    Staff intend to commence work on Social Benefits Zoning in 2024. This future policy could permit a wider range of social amenities/benefits as of right, subject to certain conditions being met, and could also encompass properties owned, leased or rented by non-profit organizations. The range of social amenities/benefits under consideration could include supportive housing. As such, and when complete, the subject application could be an outright permitted use if it met the specified conditions.