Ground has officially broken on an affordable housing project that’s set to bring 13 units to Vernon’s Okanagan Landing Road.
Mayor Victor Cumming and Vernon-Monashee MLA Harwinder Sandhu were present Tuesday to mark the beginning of construction for the project that aims to address Vernon’s affordable housing shortfall.
“It is because of projects and partnerships like these that we can take steps forward in addressing a very serious need for more accessible and attainable housing options in the North Okanagan,” Cumming said.
The two-storey project will have a mix of one, two and three bedroom homes. About 30 per cent of the units will be for diverse individuals, 50 per cent for families and 20 per cent for people with a disability.
Located at 6335 Okanagan Landing Road, the homes are a stone’s throw from a number of amenities.
“This is on a bus route, it’s close to schools, it’s close to a village where there’s shopping, and Marshall Field Park is not far away, so it’s just an ideal place,” said Margaret Penner, chairperson of the Okanagan Village Housing Society, the organization that spearheaded the project and will operate it once it is built.
“We started our society 12 years ago and we thought then that housing was becoming unaffordable, and it has only increased. In 2021 it’s unimaginable,” Penner said.
The homes are targeted at low to middle income individuals and families, and Penner says the goal is to set the rent at about one third of tenants’ income, below market rent.
The $5 million project is being paid for by a partnership between the City of Vernon, BC Housing, taxpayers and private donations. The province is providing $1.5 million for the build through the Building BC: Community Housing Fund, and will also chip in an annual operating fund of about $112,000.
The City of Vernon owns the site and has leased the land to the Okanagan Village Housing Society for 60 years, while also contributing about $150,000 for the project.
People are expected to start moving into the units by early 2023.
Since 2017, approximately 460 new homes have opened or are underway in Vernon through investments by the province.