Sustainable Social Housing Coming to B.C. Interior

Building will create energy through solar panels and special construction

Merritt, B.C., has seen little investment in social housing in the past two decades, according to ASK Wellness executive director Bob Hughes. (Google Maps)

A 30-unit sustainable social housing project will be ready for tenants in Merritt, B.C., in the next five months, according to ASK Wellness executive director Bob Hughes.

The B.C. government and ASK Wellness, along with Interior Community Services and the Nicola Valley Shelter and Support Society have worked together to plan, build and manage the $6-million project.

“I’m really proud of be part of the construction of this project for the community,” Hughes said.

Hughes said there has been no significant investment in social housing in Merritt since 1999, and with the affordable housing crisis that’s affected the entire province, more options for people in need are in high demand.

A sustainable social housing project will be up and running in five months, says ASK Wellness executive director Bob Hughes. (Owen & Hunter Architects)

“The challenge for us with this building is it’s got to be everything for everyone because it is a one-off — there’s no other social housing really available [in Merritt] for single folks that are really struggling,” Hughes said.

Sustainable housing

The project is considered passive housing, which means it creates the same amount of energy that it uses. Energy generated by solar panels on the building will be used to heat and cool the units, and heat water. That means ASK Wellness and its tenants won’t be stuck with large utility bills.

“I have to give a lot of credit to the province for choosing this community to try something innovative,” Hughes said.

The building will be built using a passive housing model so it can generate its own energy to create heat. (Owen & Hunter Architects)

Doctors and staff on site

After years of asking the B.C. government to fund social housing in the B.C. Interior city, ASK Wellness staff were relieved when it was announced a unique initiative like this would go forward in Merritt.

“Some of these smaller communities are equally impacted by the affordable housing crisis,” Hughes said.

“There are fewer health resources and social supports in a community like Merritt.”

In order to assist the people living in the building, there will be office space for physicians and staff to care for tenants, and support systems in place to help them gain access to health and employment opportunities.

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