Date 9 Nov, 2023
FIRST UNITED Executive Director Amanda Burrows (centre) pictured with Vancouver City Councillors Lenny Zhou, Rebecca Bligh, Lisa Dominato, Mike Klassen, and Christine Boyle, Lu’ma Native Housing Society President Dave Baspaly, and Vancouver-Mount Pleasant MLA Joan Phillip. Photo by Maxine Bulloch.
Vancouver, British Columbia, November 6, 2023
Construction is underway on 103 units for Indigenous residents and people experiencing or at risk of homelessness in Vancouver’s Downtown East Side community. Today, combined funding of more than $64 million was announced towards the project at 320 E Hastings Street.
The First United project is a partnership between the Government of Canada, through the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, the Province of British Columbia, through BC Housing, the City of Vancouver, the Aboriginal Housing Management Association, First United and Lu’ma Native Housing Society. The mixed-use, concrete-frame development will stand 11 storeys once completed and will include 35 supportive housing units and another 68 rental homes prioritized for Indigenous residents.
Each residential floor will include shared access to laundry, amenity areas, and balcony space. There will also be a rooftop patio area for residential use. The non-residential portion of the project on floors one through four, will be the new purpose-built First United facility offering a range of social services and programming for residents and the surrounding community. Amenities will include two low-barrier drop-in spaces, a heating and cooling centre, outdoor deck, computer lab, administrative and program spaces and a commercial kitchen and dining hall. Residents will have access to all First United services, including two meals a day through their Community Meals Program.
Construction on 320 E Hastings Street is expected to be complete in late 2025. The residential floors will have a separate street entrance at 438 Gore Avenue.
Funding provided for this project is as follows:
“For over 100 years, FIRST UNITED has been on the frontlines in the Downtown Eastside, responding to the complex issues this community faces, from poverty to homelessness to intergenerational trauma. In this moment, we are again adapting to redevelop our building into a purpose-built facility that is better capable of responding to these complexities. As part of our commitment to reconciliation, we’re thrilled to partner with Lu’ma, and have the new FIRST UNITED be the pedestal for safe, secure Indigenous housing. Through a lens of dignity, belonging, and justice, we continue to serve and advocate for the needs and the rights of this community.”
— Amanda Burrows, Executive Director, First United
“Today’s announcement is a bold step towards an inclusive and equitable future. Access to secure housing has a profound impact on an individual’s wellbeing, their ability to pursue opportunities, and their connection to the community. Together, we build a stronger and more vibrant community where everyone has a place to call home.”
— The Honourable Sean Fraser, Minister of Housing, Infrastructure and Communities
“Our region knows the impacts of the housing crisis all too well, and in Vancouver it is especially acute for our most vulnerable. Addressing this crisis requires each order of government and each stakeholder to play a key role. Today’s announcement shows what is possible when there is a commitment among these actors to work together. These kinds of investments transform our communities and will give residents a true sense of belonging.”
— The Honourable Joyce Murray, Member of Parliament for Vancouver Quadra
“These 103 new homes will help many Indigenous elders, youth and families have more than just a safe and affordable place to call home, but also a dependable and welcoming environment surrounded by their culture and traditions. Our government will continue to seek out partnerships to build homes like this, so people can have the opportunities and peace of mind that comes with a stable, affordable home.”
— Ravi Kahlon, Minister of Housing for the Province of British Columbia
“We know that affordable housing is a deep-seated issue in Vancouver, and to counter this, we need more homes to be attainable for families, seniors, and those experiencing or at risk of homelessness. This project is an example of how we are working with Indigenous organizations to ensure that supportive, affordable and culturally inclusive homes are made available as a step toward reconciliation and affordability.”
— Joan Phillip, MLA for Vancouver – Mount Pleasant
“The City of Vancouver is proud to be partnering with our government and non-profit partners to deliver 103 units of much-needed affordable housing for Indigenous residents and people experiencing or at risk of homelessness in Vancouver’s Downtown East Side community. We are steadfast in our commitment to addressing the housing crisis. We will continue to advocate for housing at every opportunity, with a focus on safe and affordable housing for everyone who calls this city home.”
— Ken Sim, Mayor, City of Vancouver
“The housing crisis requires all hands-on deck, including all levels of government and the entire non-profit housing sector. Housing is a central social determinant of health for Indigenous people, who disproportionately experience homelessness. We celebrate this collaborative development for offering trauma-informed, culturally supportive homes with wraparound services and hope to see more of this in the near future.”
— Margaret Pfoh, Chief Executive Officer, Aboriginal Housing Management Association
“On behalf of the urban Indigenous Peoples we serve, we are grateful for the partnership with First United Church, CMHC, BC Housing, City of Vancouver and many other partners who made this project possible. These homes will serve the Urban Indigenous community struggling to secure affordable housing in the Downtown Eastside, making this project an important effort towards reconciliation.”
— Dave Baspaly, President, Lu’ma Native Housing Society
For information on this release:
Executive Director, FIRST UNITED
First Forward Campaign Manager, FIRST UNITED
Director of Development and Communications, FIRST UNITED
FIRST UNITED media relations and inquiries