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Church redevelopment to include shelter, social housing

A church in the heart of the Downtown Eastside is embarking on a $31-million redevelopment that would see its existing building replaced with a facility offering a range of supportive and social housing.

A church in the heart of the Downtown Eastside is embarking on a $31-million redevelopment that would see its existing building replaced with a facility offering a range of supportive and social housing.

First United Church, a fixture in the neighbourhood for 125 years (one year prior to the city’s incorporation), plans to build a new facility with 60 units of mixed social housing.

Plans call for 40 supportive housing units, a 40-bed shelter, a place of refuge as well as retail spaces, dental and health-care facilities, and places for families.

Rev. Ric Matthews, who made the announcement yesterday in the shadow of a vibrant new mural in the Downtown Eastside, said the facility is not about providing housing, but about building an “inclusive community.”

“This is not a community of the marginalized, it’s a community with no margins ... We want it to be a reflection of a wider society.”

For example, he said, about 10 per cent of the social housing could be rented to those who could afford market housing elsewhere, but chose to live in the neighbourhood.

The United Church of Canada has donated $6 million in land and cash.

 
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