Orwell Non-Market Housing is a development project by Sanford Affordable Housing Society (SAHS), a subsidiary of Sanford Housing Society which has developed 23 housing projects in the Lower Mainland providing more than 500 units of housing with varied levels of support. SAHS’s community partner on this project is Hollyburn Family Services Society. Since 2003, Hollyburn has been offering a continuum of support and education services for families, youth, and seniors on the North Shore. They will select tenants for 20 housing units and will provide direct support services to these tenants on an as-needed basis.
The Orwell project originated as a response to the District of North Vancouver’s (DNV) 2016 Request for Expressions of Interest (REOI) for non-market housing on District-owned land, and SAHS and Hollyburn were selected by the DNV (in 2016) to develop the project. A lease agreement has been secured between SAHS and the DNV, and the land will be leased to SAHS for 60 years.
In the fall of 2018, the 90-unit project was awarded capital funding with ongoing subsidy from BC Housing’s Community Housing Fund, which was established to help local communities with the much-needed non-market housing rental supply. Under this funding program, 20 percent of units will be rented at social assistance shelter rates, 50 percent will be Rent-Geared-to-Income for people with low to moderate incomes, and 30 percent will be rented at below-market rates to tenants with moderate incomes. This is not a supported housing project as there will be no on-site support workers; all tenants will be capable of living independently or will have their own support services provided through community agencies.
The land is zoned as C2 (General Commercial Zone 2) and to allow for this project, the site will require rezoning and an amendment to the Official Community Plan (OCP). The project is near Phibbs Exchange and the Second Narrows Bridge and is considered a good location based on its proximity to public transit and other nearby amenities.
Approximately 50 percent of the units will be two- and three- bedroom units for families, and the remaining 50 percent will be one-bedroom units suitable for singles, couples of all ages, and seniors. The tenant mix will need to comply with the requirements of the DNV and BC Housing’s Community Housing Fund.