News Local

Vancouver eyes pre-fab houses for affordability

By Michael Mui, 24 Hours Vancouver



Vancouver City Hall’s affordable housing agency is looking to build pre-fabricated modular housing units, placed at empty development sites as a way to temporarily house the city’s most vulnerable.

According to Mukhtar Latif, chief housing officer with the city, up to 240 units in total are being sought — a mix of single-occupancy rooms and longer-term two and three-bedroom units that can be assembled and placed on a piece of land and moved somewhere else when needed.

Latif said the intent is to find some place to house vulnerable renters while the city works on building 1,000 rental units, approved in 2015, to be placed on 12 city-owned sites. But those units won’t arrive for another three to four years, he said.

“We’re trying to find ways we can create new supply quickly,” Latif said. “The ask is to provide a shortlist of qualified suppliers of manufactured modular homes we can look at placing on city land where we are looking to develop in the future.

“These will be a temporary location — we’re looking at units that can be moved after two to three years.”

The city wants to obtain up to 40 single and double-occupancy homes of about 150 square feet each, with their own washrooms, but without cooking facilities. An adjacent community amenity area would provide that instead.

The city is also looking for up to 200 larger, studio to two bedroom, modular units, for placement on sites awaiting redevelopment.

“Some of the more temporary units will probably be more cabin-like,” Latif said. “There are some manufactured pre-fabs that look like normal housing. Those ones we’re looking at maybe longer term, where there’s in-fills that could potentially accommodate more family-oriented housing.”

It’s anticipated residents for the affordable housing units would be based on referral from agencies like BC Housing.

Latif added he hopes to have a pilot project in place for modular housing within the next nine months.