Supportive housing project final price tag at $5.1 million

Addition of new units and health space doubled cost; building expected to receive new residents within months in Abbotsford

The Gladys Avenue supportive housing project is nearing completion.

The price tag for the Gladys Avenue supportive housing project is expected to come in double that of the building’s original estimate, due in part to the addition of a fourth storey and 10 more units for men who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.

The final cost of the building, which is expected to welcome residents in early 2017, is expected to be approximately $5.1 million. The original construction budget for the project was $2.4 million. BC Housing has provided the bulk of that money, with the City of Abbotsford contributing $250,000, along with the land.

The increase in budget came after the province expanded the scope of the project to four storeys and increased the building’s total number of units to 31, including one caretaker unit, from the 20 originally anticipated.

BC Housing said the new plan also includes more space for Fraser Health.

The project will house men who are homeless or at risk of homelessness, with staff from Abbotsford Community Services providing treatment and support services within the building.

The increased size of the project has met with some concern from residents about the building’s impact on the neighbourhood.

BC Housing’s response to a Freedom of Information request from a local resident shows the announced increase to the size of the project came after at least one BC Housing executive suggested that it could house more people on site with the same resources.

“Not sure where the 20-unit count came from but it is inefficient in terms of staffing costs,” Craig Crawford, BC Housing’s vice-president of operations, wrote on Aug. 17, 2015, two months before the announced increase. “I expect you could house 30 people with the same staffing level.”

A month later, Abbotsford city manager George Murray confirmed that the property had the appropriate zoning to allow for 10 more units to be built.