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VIAVOX: Partnerships and Affordable Housing Part 2 of 2

Oct 08, 2010
By Naomi Buell, Marketing Assistant
-Continued from Wednesday-

HYADians at a picnic

HYAD was formed by a group of parents who had come to the realization that they would not be around forever and that there needed to be something in place for their children’s futures. The realization of their immortality created the motivation necessary to take on such a large undertaking. This passion was further fueled by knowing that their children would need stability and routines as change can be a huge disruption and even detrimental to their wellbeing. The idea of being switched from home to home was not something these parents were willing to stomach for their children so they thought they would try to find another solution. They needed something that would give their children the freedom of having their own place, the reassurance of being surrounded by their friends, the connection to their existing North Vancouver community and the safety and care needed for these young adults with disabilities. The parents had met each other through social events and gatherings for their children, and through these events their children had formed bonds with each other. After a few informal talks they formed a group and went to the City of North Vancouver to find out what their next steps should be.

They were told that the best way would be to form a non-profit group and then approach the city again with a goal and concept which is exactly what they did. The next step was to find a building that could accommodate their children. They had originally envisioned finding a developer and seeing if they could have the lower level of a larger building but could not find anything with a floor that would be large enough to accommodate everyone. They then learned of a property that was previously a school site in North Vancouver on 21st and Chesterfield. After considerable effort with rezoning and discussions with the School Board, it was clear that this would be the perfect site. An initial developer was interested in the site for market residential on one portion and the School Board was to redevelop a portion of the site for their Artist’s for Kids gallery and an administration building with a small portion was offered to HYAD as the community benefit. Things seemed to be on track but with the fall in the real estate market the developer had to back out of the proposal. Fortunately a year later another developer, Polygon, stepped in and after some creative redesign the site finally was rezoned and received an Official Community Plan (OCP) amendment.

VIA Architecture’s design for the HYAD building

Currently things are ready to go but there have been delays with the funding from BC Housing. HYAD is currently “shovel ready” with the plans and design but they have not been able to access the money that was promised to them. The design includes 14 units for the HYADians, 2 manager suites and a communal kitchen and lounge. There will also be support for these young adults in the way of caretakers. Each young adult is allotted a certain amount of time per week so HYAD has asked that the group be evaluated as just that, a group. This will enable them to receive more hours as a whole and have someone on site more frequently.

Their model only costs about $220,000 a year which compared to $1.8 Million for group homes is a substantial savings for everyone, including the city. They came to realize that in order to make HYAD seem appealing there had to be a substantial cost savings, something they have clearly found a way to do.

In addition to all the work the parents have put in to organizing this, they have also invested a substantial amount of their own money. Because the group is still relatively small it can be hard for them to fundraise and as they cannot be a charity themselves they will have to form another society in the hopes of creating the funding needed. The only thing needed to move forward right now is funding from BC Housing so we are all rooting for them that this will happen soon.

HYAD car wash

Hearing more about HYAD was inspiring to say the least and I hope that everyone spreads the word about this great project. There was much gratitude to HYAD, the City of North Vancouver and the School Board for setting such a great example of how partnerships can be formed for the betterment of the community at large. It is partnerships like these that can help other groups achieve their dreams.