BC Housing has purchased another building in Victoria to help provide temporary shelter space for people experiencing homelessness in the capital city.

The property located at 225 Russell Street will provide indoor shelter to roughly 70 people experiencing homelessness in Victoria.

The building is currently undergoing renovations to provide wraparound supports for residents and is expected to be ready for occupancy before the end of April.

“In order to hit our target of bringing everyone in tents in parks in Victoria inside by the end of April, this building is a necessary part of the plan,” said David Eby, Attorney General and Minister Responsible for Housing.

“While this purchase helps us reach our initial goal of dignified shelter by the end of next month, the site will also support our work to deliver stable, safe, long-term homes for people living in parks in Victoria when it is ultimately redeveloped.”

This purchase is part of the commitment between the Province and City of Victoria to move more than 200 people currently living in encampments indoors by April 30, 2021.

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The province invested $9.4 million to purchase the building and the annual operating cost is expected to be around $2 million.

A real estate listing shows the property was listed for sale last year at $3.4 million, however, after going unsold for five months, the listing expired — it’s unclear where the extra $6 million will be going.

According to a source – who requested anonymity – the building was sold to a local investor and company in December, who then flipped the property at a much higher price to the province.

In a statement to Victoria Buzz, BC Housing provided an update on a breakdown of costs for the property which was purchased for $9,319,500.

“This includes $8 million for the land, as well design and construction costs for the future conversion of the existing building into a 40-unit permanent supportive housing building as well as renovations required to set up a temporary shelter for 70 individuals,” said a representative from BC Housing.

“An independent appraisal was completed by Phung Horwood on March 25th, 2021 and valued the property at $8.2 million,” the statement from BC Housing said.

Since January 2021, the province, City of Victoria, and outreach workers have partnered to move 116 people experiencing homelessness throughout Victoria into supportive housing units and shelter spaces, including Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre and the Capital City Centre Hotel.

The temporary shelter will remain open for 18 months and will be extended an additional 6 months if needed.

Following its use as a temporary shelter, BC Housing will engage the community on a redevelopment proposal for supportive housing, which will follow the municipal rezoning process.

BC Housing said they will be reaching out to neighbourhood associations, local businesses and other stakeholders and will be inviting neighbours to a virtual information session to learn more about the project.

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