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14 storey-building with 172 social housing units proposed for DTES

The project integrates indigenous values and ideas into designs and planning.

The City of Vancouver is looking for feedback on a new social housing project proposed for the Downtown Eastside (DTES).

The structure would include 172 units of housing, along with social services and retail, at 410 Jackson Ave. The 14 storey building would be built where there's currently a community garden and an older building once used for manufacturing, according to BC Assessment.

The proposal comes from the Aboriginal Land Trust along with the Lu/ma Native Housing Society and Atira Women's Resource Society.

"The project will offer affordable homeownership and rental opportunities and will emphasize serving Urban Indigenous Peoples in Vancouver including Elders, young people and families," the partners write in the proposal, which is called Ch’ich’iyúy Elxwíkn (the Twin Sisters). That's the Squamish name for the two mountain peaks also known as the Lions.

Along with the living space, there'd also be a courtyard and agricultural space integrated into the building. On the top of the 14th floor a play space and longhouse are both planned.

The plan also integrates Indigenous values.

"Looking to the past and one’s ancestors, being conscious of one’s place in the world today, and looking to the children and their future, all form part of a guidance framework for sound decision making," states the proposal, which discusses the intergenerational goal in the housing project.

Of the 172 units 56 will be for people eligible for income assistance or an old age security pension and guaranteed income supplement. Another 40 will be for households with income (at move-in) below the housing income limit. The final 76 will be for households with incomes (at move-in) below the middle income limit. Indigenous people will get priority for all 172 units.

They'll be using a model called affordable leasehold homeownership to help new homeowners purchase a unit, which sees the resident purchase a share of an apartment through a long-term lease in partnership with the non-profit society.

"To purchase the lease for an apartment, the resident pays a reasonable down payment (as low as 2% of the market value) which allows them to obtain their own mortgage. This is far less than the amount required for a regular strata condo, which can be as high as to 20% of market value, and places the possibility of homeownership within reach of average people," states the proposal.

The proposal has to be approved by the development permit board before going ahead; it's currently in the public comment period.