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Residents move into new Richmond modular housing on Tuesday

Hope, dignity building starts with a home, says executive of Community Builders Group

A year and a half after being approved by city council, residents were moving into a second temporary modular home (TMH) in Richmond.

Tuesday, the complex, now named Aster Place, officially opened in the morning with dignitaries in attendance for a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

“Aster Place is another important component of the city’s homelessness strategy and an example of how partnerships can result in housing for some of our most vulnerable residents,” said Richmond Mayor Malcolm Brodie at the official opening.

People who have been staying at the temporary Emergency Response Centre, which opened early in the pandemic, at Minoru Place will relocate to the new complex.

Located at 2520 Smith St., just south of the Bridgeport Canada Line Station, the three-storey apartment building has 40 self-contained homes with on-site staff providing around-the-clock care for the residents.

Each unit includes a kitchenette and washroom with several units designed for people with disabilities. The ground floor has a commercial-grade kitchen, a common amenity room, a meeting room, laundry facilities and a staff room.

Residents will also have access to a small community garden and two covered picnic tables.

The building is operated and staffed by Community Builders Group, a non-profit and local provider for affordable and supportive housing services.

The TMH offers support services such as employment assistance, daily meals, life skills training and mental health and addiction recovery services. The TMH includes a harm reduction room for residents who are actively using drugs.

Julie Roberts, executive director of Community Builders Group, said the TMH project will not only provide homes for people who are most vulnerable, but a way to help them build hope and dignity in the community.

“Our residents that move in … focus on settling in and learn about living (indoors) again. Many people that we house have been homeless for months, years, and sometimes even decades, but once they settle in, (community advisory groups) provide a chance for dignity and building a community outside of their home,” she said.

Community advisory groups will provide a chance for TMH residents to build their relationships with neighbours and businesses in the area and to give them opportunities “to be involved in giving back to their community,” Roberts added.

The province, via BC Housing, provided about $9.5 million for the project while the City of Richmond contributed $250,000 and provided the land on a temporary basis.

The permit for the Bridgeport building will be for three years with an option to renew for another three after that.