Sunshine Coast Foundation invests in affordable housing

 An affordable housing project on Franklin Road in Gibsons nears completion. - Wendy FrancisThe Sunshine Coast Foundation has awarded a grant of $20,000 to the New Market Funds Society on behalf of the Sunshine Coast Affordable Housing Society (SCAHS). The SCAHS is nearing completion on a project on Franklin Road in Gibsons and expects to break ground on a second project on Shaw Road in 2021.

“The Sunshine Coast Affordable Housing Society is run entirely by our board of nine volunteers,” said vice-president Chris Neumeyer-Wong. “With this grant, together with a contribution from the Town of Gibsons, we are hiring a manager who will greatly increase our capacity to move forward on additional housing opportunities.”

The project on Franklin Road consists of three units on a lot that otherwise would have held only one home. One of the units will be rented at market price, allowing the society to rent out the other two units at least 25 per cent below market value. Occupancy is expected in late 2020 or early 2021.

“We really liked this mixed income model, where we can make affordable accommodation available in an already-established and popular neighbourhood,” said Neumeyer-Wong. “We are very grateful to the Town of Gibsons for making the lot available to us.”

The Sunshine Coast Foundation identified housing affordability as one of two issues on which it wanted to focus its grant making in 2020, inviting applications in the spring from organizations working to address the housing issue.

“Compared to other nearby communities, such as Bowen Island, Whistler, and Squamish, housing is least affordable on the Sunshine Coast and 50 per cent of renters here are spending more than 30 per cent of their household income on housing, the threshold for basic affordability,” the foundation said in a release.

“The Sunshine Coast Foundation is committed to making a difference on issues that are holding our community and its residents back from fulfilling their potential,” said Manjit Kang, chair of the foundation’s board. “By offering a $20,000 grant toward operating costs that is renewable for two additional years, we are hoping to bring increased stability and sustainability to an organization that is making headway against this challenge.”

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