New housing for women in need opens door in Abbotsford

Volunteers are preparing the final stage of readying the new Christine Lamb Residence in Abbotsford.

Sonya Hossman (left) with outreach workers Sara Smith and Krissy Devlin.

Sonya Hossman (left) with outreach workers Sara Smith and Krissy Devlin.

A $10.3-million housing project aimed at reducing the number of homeless people living on Abbotsford’s streets will open its doors on March 1.

Volunteers are assembling chairs and dollying dressers into bedrooms, as the final stage of readying the new Christine Lamb Residence for its first occupants.

One of those dedicated volunteers is Gord Lamb, son of the building’s namesake.

“It’s quite a tribute to my mom. I’m very overwhelmed, and she would be overwhelmed,” he said.

The building was dedicated to the woman who was the first female elected to Matsqui council, avid community volunteer and supporter of the Women’s Resource Centre of the Fraser Valley, which will operate the building.

Located at 3206 Clearbrook Rd., next to the Matsqui Recreation Centre, the building has 41 furnished units, ranging from studio suites to four-bedroom apartments.

Coordinator Sonya Hossmann is impressed with the building, which is designed for function. BC Housing oversaw the project, which was designed by Keystone Architecture and built by Mierau Construction.

“It’s beautifully done. It’s efficient and they haven’t wasted any space. It’s perfect.”

The project is part of an agreement between the province and the city to create new affordable housing. B.C. provided a grant of approximately $8.9 million while Abbotsford donated the land, valued at approximately $1.36 million, and waived property taxes and development cost charges.

Known as second stage housing, the building will be available to women moving from situations such as addiction treatment, recovery houses and transition houses, with their children. The women referred would otherwise be homeless or in unstable housing situations. Clients will be prioritized based on need, will stay for a maximum of two years, and will be offered programs as necessary. About a dozen women and their children will call the building home immediately, and it will be full within the month, said Hossmann.

“This is about building community, and re-entering the community,” she said.