Come the fall, two military veterans will have themselves some pretty nice digs in Colwood.
Two one-bedroom suites have been offered up by developers Russ and Rob Ridley, in their under-construction condominium project at 300 Belmont Rd. for the use of clients of Cockrell House. That organization, which has its main building at the corner of Sooke and Metchosin roads, has been providing a home for veterans previously living in substandard conditions or worse, homeless, for nearly eight years.
Russ actually stays at Cockrell House and was among the people who helped spearhead that project, under the auspices of the South Vancouver Island Veteran’s Housing Society. It was renamed around 2011 after the passing of Jack Cockrell, a tireless advocate for veterans in the region and a man who knew plenty about what is now known as post-traumatic stress disorder, and its effect on veterans trying to integrate back into society after tours of duty.
The original market for tenants at Cockrell House was thought to be people in their 60s or older, Russ Ridley said. But as it opened its doors to veterans who were living in substandard housing or worse, homeless, they found that age bracket was a lot wider, with people as young as in their 20s and 30s right up to their 80s, he said.
“It’s actually been more successful than I thought it was going to be,” he said, “and more satisfying for myself than I thought it would be, to give back or to help a segment of the community that have in past been falling through the cracks and not recognized as (needing) help.”
The rents from the two units at Pacific View will help subsidize the operations of Cockrell House.
Ridley has long held a special place in his heart for veterans and said he has been pleased at how providing housing for veterans in need can transform them. “There’s a long list of veterans in need that have been helped and gone on to live more productive and more meaningful lives,” he said.
Angus Stanfield, who chairs the board for Cockrell House and is also president of the B.C./Yukon Command for the Royal Canadian Legion, has worked closely with Ridley over the years and appreciates the gesture to add to the Cockrell House rental housing stock.
“Russ put forward this idea that instead of writing a cheque to the municipality (for affordable housing), he would like to give a couple of the suites to us to use,” Stanfield said. “I think it’s a fantastic thing.”
Having a pair of suites valued at roughly $250,000 for use to whomever the organization sees fit “is really big for us, it really is,” he said.
Cockrell House currently houses 14 veterans. Besides the main building, it oversees two suites at Prince Edward Lodge – a third is on the way – and has three individuals placed independently. Three people are on a wait list to get in; Stanfield said they could be either homeless and living in the bush, couch surfing or in rehab.
For the Pacific View suites, he expects them to be tenanted by stable individuals who are well known to the Cockrell House program and likely won’t get back into the work force.
From the city’s perspective, Mayor Carol Hamilton said the move by the Ridleys to include veteran’s units in their project is a way to show how the affordable housing model can be expanded.
“To my knowledge, (they are) the first of the developers who’ve actually come out with units. Usually it’s a cash contribution,” she said. “This is kind of the next step.”
The building containing the two Cockrell House suites will see a total of 32 units and is Phase 1 of the project, with occupancy slated for September of this year. A second building, which is to have 64 units, will be built adjacent to the first. For more information, visit pacificviewcondos.com.
Q: HOW DOES LANGFORD’S AFFORDABLE HOUSING PROGRAM WORK?
The program requires developers of new subdivisions in Langford to build one affordable home for every 10 single-family lots subdivided. These affordable homes are then priced at 60 per cent of market value.
The City, partnering with the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, assists developers by providing free administrative support, density bonuses and streamlined development approvals as incentives.
Local realtors provide services free of charge to prospective buyers, while credit unions, mortgage brokers and insurers (including CMHC) streamline mortgage pre-approvals.
In 2007, the City expanded the policy by requiring new developments to be B.C. Building Code-ready for secondary suites, contributing to density and diversity. It also created visibility requirements such as wide doorways and level entrances to accommodate people with disabilities.
For every new dwelling, a $500 contribution must be made to the City’s Affordable Housing Reserve Fund, which is used to fund a rent subsidy program and the construction of new subsidized units.
– City of Langford website
GREATER VICTORIA MARKET UPDATE » MONTH TO DATE, JUNE 15/15 COURTESY VICTORIA REAL ESTATE BOARD
» 443 / 680 — NET UNCONDITIONAL SALES / TOTAL, JUNE 2014
» 666 / 1,234 — NEW LISTINGS / TOTAL, JUNE 2014
» 3,996 / 4,695 — ACTIVE RESIDENTIAL LISTINGS / TOTAL, JUNE 2014