An Esquimalt low-income housing complex for seniors is getting redeveloped thanks to a provincial grant.
The Esquimalt Lions Lodge at 874 Fleming St. has been in place since 1972, and is in dire need of an upgrade by the Greater Victoria Housing Society.
“Many of the people who live there would be homeless without it,” said Kaye Melliship, executive director of the Greater Victoria Housing Society. “It’s great that we can offer something safe, secure and functional in a safe neighborhood.”
The 77-unit will be replaced by two buildings housing 137 units for seniors and families. While the plan had been in place for a while, there weren’t enough secured funds for the $40 million project to get going.
On Tuesday, however, the province announced funding for 4,900 affordable housing units across the province, including 161 in Esquimalt and 588 in Victoria. The Esquimalt Lions Lodge was awarded $13.7 million, or $100,000 for every unit.
“It’s full steam ahead,” Melliship said. “We’ve got happy architects and happy engineers.”
Current tenants will not be displaced by the construction; the new seniors complex will be built in the adjacent parking lot and residents will be invited to move into the new units once they are complete. Following the move, the old building will be torn down and a new building slated for families will be built.
If residents do not wish to be around construction for a few years, the GVHS is also offering units at some of their other buildings.
Rental prices are expected to stay relatively the same in the new complex.
“Everyone has a very unique story, we have to monitor rent with their incomes,” Melliship said. “We have to make it affordable respecting what they can pay; many of them are on welfare so we’ll definitely need to pay special attention to that.”
The rest of the units will not surpass 30 per cent of a person’s income in rent.
The Esquimalt Lions Club is still hoping to be involved in the new building, though it’s unclear if the new developments will also bear their name.
The project will now go through more detailed design plans and zoning applications, but the GVHS hopes that shovels will hit the ground in March 2020.
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