Anhart Community Housing Society is facing a challenge on its project at 162 Main Street, where construction of the six-storey building was recently stopped.
The short story: We need $1.5 million!
The long story: In early 2018 we bought the vacant property at 162 Main. We commissioned architect Sandra Moore of Birmingham and Wood to design a six-storey building with 69 microsuites. She worked with Etro Construction and a team of building consultants to meet all the requirements of the City of Vancouver’s permitting process. Etro lined up all the sub-trades and we signed a construction contract. Main Village was designed with three levels of rent ranging from $375 to $1100, and meant for people of low income.
Anhart achieved financing support from Vancity Community Foundation, Vancity Savings and Credit Union, and a commitment from BC Housing. Anhart invested approximately $3 million of its own funds. The biggest piece of financing expected was $14 million from Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s Rental Construction Financing Initiative. Anhart received two conditional letters of approval for the funding. But in mid-May 2021, just as Etro was about to begin site works, the application was denied.
Anhart had expected the financing given that its first project, 40 units in Hope BC, had been supported by the RCFI program and was operating successfully. The reason given for the rejection was because Anhart revealed that The Dodson, an SRO it owns at 25 East Hastings, had sustained losses. In recent years, operating low-income housing in the Downtown Eastside has faced challenges including increased crime and security costs, health and support needs of tenants, and necessary upgrades to the century-old building. An article in The Globe and Mail questioned why the rental construction program favours for-profit developers and considers rents of $2150 for one-bedroom suites “affordable.” (read here)
Anhart decided to go ahead with construction of 162 Main using available funds. Given the rapidly rising costs of construction and additional costs of renegotiating the contract, Anhart wanted to push the project as far as it could before winter.
Anhart is committed to completing this project by the fall of 2022. Throughout the project’s development, we have been humbled by the contribution and encouragement of many individuals, companies and public agencies, including Etro Construction and Birmingham and Wood. We are now appealing to other Community Champions to help us meet the desperate need for affordable rental housing. We are not only working for 162 Main but towards a model that can be repeated in communities across Canada. We call it Citizen’s Housing.
While we work towards a construction financing solution, we need to pay Etro for its work which includes digging the foundation and pouring concrete. So far, $7.5 million has been spent on the $21 million project.
If we can pay Etro approximately $1.5 million, they will continue through the end of September. That will give us time to solve the issue of construction financing. We are exploring various solutions. Etro has scheduled a costly decommissioning of the site on Friday August 20. We are working to prevent this from happening.
Here is how you can help
Every day in Vancouver we hear about the desperate need for affordable housing. We see more and more people living outside. Anhart has come to believe that citizens have the answer to the affordable housing crisis, and that we can achieve a lot through the small actions of many thoughtful and committed people. Thanks for being one of them!