A new modular housing development in Victoria is going up quickly – stacked Lego style – with the purpose of housing Indigenous women at risk of homelessness.
Spa’Qun, or Flower House, is being built by Muchalat Constructing for BC Housing, and will be operated by the Aboriginal Coalition to End Homelessness (ACEH). The unique structure of the building allows for quick assembly. Muchalat is now working on plumbing, mechanical systems, exterior siding and landscaping, with the units expected to be move-in ready by May.
The project will house 21 women, but offer more than shelter.
“The Aboriginal Coalition to End Homelessness (ACEH) will work with BC Housing and local partners on ensuring the housing, service and cultural needs of the residents are met, and staff will be on-site 24 hours a day, seven days a week to support residents,” said BC Housing in an emailed statement. “ACEH will be also be responsible for property and operations management.”
Fran Hunt-Jinnouchi, executive director of ACEH, said in an email that the culturally-supportive housing would include “elders, traditional foods, plants and medicines and cultural crafts,” as well as decolonized harm reduction practice, also known as land-based healing.
In Canada Indigenous peoples make up less than five per cent of the population; locally, however, approximately 30 per cent of the homeless population identify as Indigenous.
“It’s very disproportionate, it shows the trauma that they’ve gone through as a people,” said Grant McKenzie, director of communications at Victoria’s Our Place Society, which is not directly involved with the project. “I think getting housing is difficult not only because they are living in poverty but there’s racism connected to that… many people won’t rent to Indigenous people.”
McKenzie added that the situation is especially difficult for Indigenous women.
“There hasn’t been a single woman out there at Our Place who hasn’t gone through extreme trauma and abuse in their lives, and really need a stable place to be to get their footing and get their lives back.”
The project is located in the 800 block of Hillside Avenue.