New supportive housing building latest in many strategies to address homelessness in City of Richmond

20 September 2022

The City of Richmond, in partnership with BC Housing and the Attorney General and Ministry responsible for Housing, today officially opened Aster Place, a 40-unit supportive housing building that is yet another example of the commitment to provide housing for residents experiencing or at risk of homelessness.

“Aster Place is another important component of the City’s homelessness strategy and an example of how partnerships can result in housing for some of our most vulnerable residents,” said Mayor Malcolm Brodie. “The City of Richmond has worked with our partners on this project to connect with tenants in need, understand the supportive services required, and provide a safe and stable housing environment.”

The three-storey modular building at 2520 Smith Street will enable Richmond residents who have been using the temporary Emergency Response Centre at Minoru Place as safe accommodation during the COVID pandemic to relocate to a more stable home.

Aster Place will also enable residents experiencing, or at risk of, homelessness access to essential support services such as employment assistance, daily meals, life skills training and mental health and addiction recovery services. The name Aster Place comes from the aster flower, which represents love, hope and loyalty. It is also recognized as a September birth flower.

The building will be operated and staffed 24/7 by Community Builders Group, an experienced local provider of affordable and supportive housing services. The Province, via BC Housing, provided approximately $9.5 million through the Homelessness Action Plan for the building, with the City of Richmond providing $250,000 in waived fees as well as the land for the project.

“The City of Richmond remains committed to being a leader that works with our community organizations and partners to provide options for those residents who have no home,” added Mayor Malcolm Brodie. “Since adopting the Richmond Homelessness Strategy in 2019, Council has supported a myriad of new projects and initiatives to create and expand access to emergency and extreme weather shelter beds, drop-in support services, and other resources to reduce and prevent homelessness in our community.”

The Richmond Homelessness Strategy outlines five strategic directions and 32 recommended actions. Since its release, the City has implemented various initiatives to support residents experiencing or at risk of homelessness. These include:

  • Opening the Richmond House Shelter on Horseshoe Way, a partnership with BC Housing and the Salvation Army that currently provides 45 year-round beds, three meals a day, shower and laundry facilities for women and men.
  • Creation of a Drop-In Centre at Brighouse Pavilion, operated by Turning Point Recovery Society, to provide laundry and shower access along with day-time supports, service navigation and referral, computer and literacy training, and healthy meals and snacks.
  • Opening Richmond’s first Winter Warming Centre, operated by The Salvation Army, to provide safe shelter and meals for up to 15 individuals at a time during extreme cold.
  • Creation of a multi-disciplinary team with Vancouver Coastal Health that provides clinical supports and outreach to vulnerable individuals experiencing homelessness.
  • Working with the Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction and Richmond RCMP’s Vulnerable Persons Unit to provide street outreach services to those experiencing homelessness on City land.
  • Establishing the Alderbridge Supportive Housing project on Alderbridge Way to provide 40 safe and secure rental homes with support services, life-skills training and access to primary health and mental health services.
  • Creating a dedicated Program Lead for Homelessness on staff to ensure the City prioritizes and allocates appropriate resources and partnerships to continue to address the challenges of homelessness in Richmond.
  • Hosting a series of community conversations on homelessness, inviting residents to come together to discuss the meaning of home and homelessness and explore ideas about how people can take action to help foster a more inclusive community.

Recognizing stable housing is crucial to those experiencing or at risk of homelessness, the City continues to work with various levels of government to identify and fund opportunities for affordable, supportive and non-market rentals. Examples include:

  • A partnership between the City, BC Housing and Pathways Clubhouse on a new affordable rental housing development at 5491 No. 2 Road to provide 80 new affordable housing units for low and moderate-income households.
  • Amendments to the Zoning Bylaw to use residential rental tenure legislation to protect 60 existing rental sites in the city, making Richmond one of only two municipalities that have protected existing rental sites using such legislation.
  • An increase in the number of Low End Market Rental (LEMR) units to require at least 15 per cent of new residential apartment projects with 60 or more units within the City Centre. This is among the highest levels in the region and Richmond has the only citywide program in Greater Vancouver that secures rental units below market rents.
  • Amending the City’s Market Rental Housing Policy to make Richmond the only municipality with a mandatory citywide requirement for market rental units in all multi-family residential developments.

Since adopting its Affordable Housing Strategy over a decade ago, over 1,120 affordable rental units have been built and occupied across Richmond. Almost 900 more have been approved and/or are under development, while close to a further 500 are currently under review.

For more information, view the City's Homelessness Strategy.