New housing complex aims to tackle home shortage for Cowichan Tribes

The complex contains three buildings, with 16 affordable housing units.

A new 32-unit multi-family housing project on the Cowichan Tribes reserve hopes to make a dent in the ongoing housing crisis on the First Nation.

The nearly $8 million modular housing project on Boys Road is jointly funded by Cowichan Tribes and the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC).

The complex contains three buildings, with 16 affordable housing units. The units are a mix of studio, one-bedroom and two-bedroom homes.

Lauren Miller, Cowichan Tribes special project coordinator, said that each apartment has features that are suitable for residents of all ages, like walk-in showers rather than bathtubs.

“There is going to be a range of people who are renting the units. Anywhere from elders, to small families, to single people,” Miller said.

Gina Warburton, acting associate director of housing for Cowichan Tribes, said the goal for these units is to put a small dent into the housing crisis the area is facing.

She said rental prices are continuing to skyrocket, forcing an increase in overcrowded homes, as multi-generations are living together to save money.

“We currently have 728 applications for housing, which equals about 1,700 people. So that’s the need,” Warburton explained. “So yeah 16 units will put out for general call so to speak, but then we have another 700 applications waiting.”

Most of the Cowichan Tribes land is on a floodplain, making it hard to build.

Miller said this complex was raised by four feet to prevent flooding.

Warburton told CHEK News this is a small dent in what she estimates is 2,600 homes needed for the current and future housing demand.

The other 12 units on site will be used by the Lalum’utul’ Smun’eem (Children & Families) Departments to support young mothers and youth who are aging out of care.

The department has a common space that can be used for workshops and provides support for residents.

Warburton said this was very important for the development.

“Giving them a spot to land, providing them with crucial life skills, getting reintegrated into a community, perhaps for the first time in their lives, and get that sense of connection,” Warburton explained.

She added Cowichan Tribes is starting to do more strategic planning, in the hopes of applying for more grants to build more housing complexes in the future.

RELATED: ‘Colonialism driven by cronyism’: Opposition slams union rule barring Cowichan Tribes contractor from hospital project

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