In 2017, the City of Vancouver introduced temporary modular housing for the homeless, to be placed on vacant, underused or yet-to-be developed sites.
The homes are part of a $66-million commitment announced by the Government of British Columbia in September towards building 600 units of pre-fabricated, portable housing for the city’s homeless residents.
The 2017 Vancouver homeless count found 3,605 people without a place to live, up 30 per cent from the previous count in 2014 (2,777 people).
City staff in September, 2016 developed a three-year plan for shelter and housing supply and demand to address the increasing number of homeless people in Vancouver.
Council approved guidelines for temporary modular housing, along with zoning and development bylaw amendments to allow temporary modular housing in late 2016.
The City-Province partnership would allow Vancouver and the provincial government to address the immediate and urgent needs of homeless residents in the city while more permanent housing is being created. The modular housing is meant as a rapid response to the homelessness crisis with housing that can be built in six months, from concept to completion.
Modular housing units are not mobile homes. The city describes them as units built to code inside a factory, then transported to designated locations, where they are assembled into a building by professional builders. They can be easily relocated to other sites.
Buildings, expected to be three storeys with up to 50 self-contained, single studio units, are to be managed by non-profit housing operators selected by BC Housing.
The first of these, built at 220 Terminal Ave., opened in February, 2017 and provides housing for 40 people in units with bathrooms and kitchens, at a minimum of 250 square feet. Four of these are accessible for tenants with special needs.
In November the Development Permit Board gave conditional approval of a development application to build 78 new temporary modular homes at the Pearson-Dogwood site at 57th and Heather in Marpole. Members of the Marpole Residents Coalition protested the plan and filed a court challenge, which they lost.
- City of Vancouver. City Council report on temporary modular housing definition and regulations, Oct. 25, 2016:
- City of Vancouver. Temporary Modular Housing.
- City of Vancouver. Temporary Modular Housing (factsheet) (pdf).
- Globe and Mail. Vancouver homeless population up 30% over past three years. September 26, 2017.
- Globe and Mail. Vancouver residents push back against modular-housing development for homeless. December 26, 2017.