From left to right: LRCA board president, Guido Weisz, CHA executive director, John Horn, and LRCA executive director, Christy Wood (Cole Schisler photo)

LRCA receives first ever Cowichan Housing Association grant

The LRCA was awarded a $317,000 grant for their affordable housing project

The Ladysmith Resource Centre Association (LRCA) has received a grant of $317,000 for their Buller Street affordable housing project.

The grant was awarded by the Cowichan Housing Association, (CHA). The CHA was established in 2015 by the Cowichan Valley Regional District, (CVRD) board to focus on homelessness prevention and housing affordability in the Cowichan region. This was the first grant awarded by the CHA.

RELATED: LRCA low-income housing project ‘months away’ from on-site work

“It speaks to the work the LRCA has put into their housing project over the last few years,” CVRD chair Aaron Stone said. “They’ve done a significant amount of work with BC Housing, and working with the Town Ladysmith on the housing agreement, the waiver of DCCs, as well as the province to get seed funding for the project.”

The CHA is funded by the Cowichan Housing Trust Fund, which was approved by referendum during the last municipal election. The fund is provided $750,000 derived annually from property taxation. That funding flows back into the community in the form of grants to affordable housing projects.

“The rationale for using the taxpayers dollars is to contribute to these projects, but also to be a bit of a magnet for other grants. We can open the door for folks to do fundraising, and get contributions from senior levels of government,” CHA executive director, John Horn said.

Horn said there are currently 16 other projects that the CHA is working with at various stages of development.

LRCA executive director, Christy Wood said she hopes the LRCA can be a model to other organizations in the CVRD that affordable housing projects are possible.

“We’re really excited to be the first project in the Cowichan region to receive this money. I think it can be a testament to all the other non-profits and people who are working to bring affordable housing to the region that this can be done,” she said.

The affordable housing project is estimated to cost a total of $10 million to build. LRCA board president Guido Weisz said that fundraising efforts, capital campaigns, and other grant applications will be ongoing to secure more funding for the project.

Other contributors to the project in Ladysmith include BC Housing ($3.6M), Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation ($1.5M pending application approval), Ladysmith Resources Centre Association ($970,000 inclusive of land value) and the Town of Ladysmith ($258,989).

RELATED: LRCA receives $3.6-million in provincial funding for affordable housing project

“We’ll continue to invest in the building, and work to identify additional resources,” Weisz said. “We want to make sure that when we get to the operation of the building that we are on solid financial footing.”

Weisz said that the CHA grant makes a huge difference in reducing the cost of the project, and gives motivation for the LRCA to move forward with the project. Right now, the LRCA is working to prove that the project is financially viable.

The CHA, the LRCA, and the CVRD all hope that this grant will be the first of many.

“It’s a really exciting time. I’m proud of our community and LRCA about the work they did to get this far. I look forward to more funding announcements like this in the future throughout the Cowichan region,” Stone said.

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