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This is Vancouver’s first moveable modular housing development.

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The 40-unit project was constructed in just a few months.

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It can be relocated or reconfigured to fit any site.

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Vancouver donated unused, city-owned land for the project.

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The development will provide interim housing for people on low and fixed income.

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The project features shared laundry and outdoor amenity spaces.

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Four of the suites are fully wheelchair accessible.

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Each has a kitchen, bathroom, and a living space.

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CMHC will invest $3 million for up to 160 units. Vancouver Affordable Housing Authority will manage the developments.

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CMHC’s Affordable Housing Innovation Fund invests in innovative building ideas and funding models.

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Visit cmhc.ca/innovationfund to learn more.

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June 19, 2017

Fast, affordable and flexible housing solution in Vancouver

Vancouver celebrated an affordable housing first in February 2017. The City opened a modular housing development on city-owned land that can be easily dismantled and relocated depending on local needs.

Constructed in just 2 months, the modular homes offer a fast, creative and flexible solution for temporary affordable housing in Vancouver. The new residents of 220 Terminal Avenue previously lived in short-term hotel lodging in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. They’ll move to more permanent housing once it becomes available.

It’s a project of the Vancouver Affordable Housing Agency, which has a mandate to create 2,500 housing units on city-owned land by 2021. As of mid-2017, it has about 1,000 units at various stages of development.

Why modular works

Vacant land in Vancouver is scarce, yet the need for housing is great. The Housing Agency realized the modular concept could provide affordable housing while making use of public land awaiting development. In general, the modular units will stay for 3 to 5 years at each available site. 

“It was good for us to learn what modular housing can do,” says Kenny Gilbertson, the agency’s development manager. “The proof of concept is there.”

The Housing Agency team worked closely with modular housing provider Horizon North. Their indoor factory offered 24-hour production, protection from the weather and quick delivery. In all, the prefabricated timber components took a month to manufacture and 6 days to install. The foundation was prepared and the site serviced during manufacturing to make the best use of time.

The project has 40 bachelor suites, a courtyard, common area and laundry room. Two murals by local First Nation artist Bracken Hanuse-Corlett span the exterior walls, designed to reflect the area’s history. As a benefit of the building’s compact footprint, the Housing Agency was able to keep the urban orchard already on the site. The building’s 3-storey height also had several benefits: lower engineering costs, a streamlined installation and no requirement for an elevator.

220 Terminal Avenue received contributions from Vancity Credit Union, the City of Vancouver and the Jimmy Chow estate. It was also the first project funded under Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s new Affordable Rental Innovation Fund.