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Richmond organization formed to tackle affordable housing

A newly-formed Richmond-based organization says it has a solution to the city’s housing affordability problem.
Lower Mainland Affordable Housing Foundation
From left: Vivian Chung, director of Lower Mainland Affordable Housing Foundation, Sunny Ho, founder of the Foundation and Richmond council candidate, Sherman Chan, director of family and settlement services for MOSAIC and Sue Trevor, director of finance and administration for MOSAIC. Daisy Xiong photo

A newly-formed Richmond-based organization says it has a solution to the city’s housing affordability problem.

Lower Mainland Affordable Housing Foundation, founded by real estate developer and council candidate Sunny Ho, announced Monday that it will seek funding from BC Housing to create more affordable rental units in Lower Mainland.

The Foundation, formed in June, submitted a proposal this month to BC Housing to build 125 affordable rental units for low-income residents on land Ho owns in Chilliwack, using provincial funds from the B.C. Housing Hub program.

“This is just our first project to show our operating model," said Ho.

"We hope to work with local organizations in Richmond to create affordable housing with funding from the Province using this model."

The proposed project, including an 8,000 sq. ft. community centre on the ground floor, will be managed by settlement organization MOSAIC, said Ho at a press conference on Monday.

“We have spoken to the city council of Chilliwack and BC Housing, and they have shown great interest and support for our idea. We expect the proposal to be passed sometime soon,” said Ho.

If approved, the Foundation will receive a $100,000 per unit construction subsidy and other funding from BC Housing for the Chilliwack project, according to Ho.

“Our Foundation has a team of housing specialists who can provide expertise on construction, technicians, paperwork, law, etc., to make sure that the project moves forward smoothly,” said Ho.

Ho said when all financing is in place, and the land cost is paid back, he will donate the money, approximately $1 million, to the Foundation.

The proposed project caters towards senior residents, which will have 40 per cent two-bedroom units with the rest being one-bedroom and bachelor suites. Rents will fall under regulations for affordable housing rentals.

On Oct. 3, the Foundation will host a dinner in Richmond, inviting 400 people from local organizations to discuss further opportunities to create affordable housing together in the city with funding from BC Housing, according to Ho.

“We know that some organizations have the space and want to address housing affordability, but they don’t know about the funding opportunities from the government. That’s where we will be helpful,” said Ho.

“If local organizations can provide land, even spaces on their parking lot, we can work together to apply for the funding through BC Housing and develop affordable housing projects together."

Announcing the Foundation within a month of the election, Ho said this “has nothing to do with his running for council.

“Instead of relying on others, we should fight for affordable housing ourselves," said Ho.

"The provincial government has promised us affordable housing and we will let the provincial government know that we support their policies. It's in the interest of our community."