Vancouver and the province broke ground yesterday on the first of 14 supportive social housing developments on city-owned sites.

Mayor Gregor Robertson called the $21.6-million development, located near Pacific Central station, the “real solution for homelessness” in Vancouver.

“It’s permanent homes for people who need health-care supports,” Robertson said yesterday following a ceremonial earth turning.

The province paid $16.7 million toward the development, which is slated to open in April 2011, and will provide the PHS Community Services Society $1.7 million annually to operate it.

Housing Minister Rich Coleman said that in 2006 the province decided that it didn’t want to just “cut ribbons.”

“When you put in meals, counselling, and some mental health workers and addiction support, you get a better result,” Coleman said.

The six-storey development will feature 80 325-square-feet studio apartments, each with its own bathroom and kitchen.

The ground floor has communal living space and four retail shops on Main Street, Robertson said.

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