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Demolition begins for First United housing project

Demolition begins for First United housing project
FIRST UNITED—Work has begun redeveloping the First United Church Community Ministry Society’s building on Hastings Street in Vancouver.

VANCOUVER—Demolition has begun on the First United Church Community Ministry Society’s building on Hastings Street in Vancouver.

According to First United, construction fences went up onsite this month following the successful relocation of First United’s inclusive, low-barrier services to satellite locations in the Downtown Eastside.

First United is partnering with Lu’ma Native Housing Society to redevelop its aging facility into a multi-storey, purpose-built space. The first four floors will be the new First United, which will serve as the podium for an additional seven floors (100-plus units) of below-market housing for Indigenous people operated by Lu’ma.

“The focus of our redevelopment is really to address the top two needs identified by our community members during our feasibility studies: the need for housing, and the need for healing,” said Amanda Burrows, First United acting executive director, in a statement. “The tragic loss of two Downtown Eastside residents in the SRO fire less than two months ago underscores the urgent need in our community for dignified, purpose-built spaces that are safe and secure. This is a community of deep struggle, but also of deep strength. As a city, as a society, the Downtown Eastside deserves our attention.”

The work began after First United raised over $23.7 million towards their $30 million fundraising goal for the four-floor First United podium and are aiming to hit $24 million by the end of July.

“Because we’re enabling the development of housing on our site, we’ve been able to access bridge financing. This means we’re able to begin construction prior to fundraising the full amount, and that we’re able to accept multi-year pledge donations,” said Burrows. “We’ve received tremendous support from individual and corporate donors, and we’re thrilled that the building process is now underway.”

 

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