B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell unveiled plans to build 1,006 new housing units for the homeless on eight sites owned by the City of Vancouver Tuesday.

Housing and Social Development Minister Rich Coleman said the province will provide $205 million to build the units at eight locations throughout Vancouver. The Streetohome Foundation will provide $20 million.

Construction on the eight new sites is expected to begin this year with some units completed by 2013.

"It's good news for the city as we're seeing the most effective response to homelessness, which is permanent and supportive housing, get built in the downtown and Mount Pleasant and Fairview neighbourhoods in Vancouver," said Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson.

The eight new projects are in addition to six projects that are already under construction. All told, the province will develop 1,575 units on 14 sites at an estimated cost of $333.4 million.

Wendy Pedersen of the Carnegie Community Action Project, which deals with housing issues on the Downtown Eastside, says that the units are a "good first step," but falls well short of goals outlined in the city's 2005 Homeless Action Plan.

The B.C. government admits the housing units are only one-quarter of what's needed.

"We've got a long way to go," Pedersen told ctvbc.ca. "There are a lot of people who need help."

Pedersen thinks the federal government needs to provide funding to shelter the homeless.

Mayor Robertson, who has vowed to end homelessness in Vancouver by 2016, said he hopes to persuade the federal government to renew its commitment to social housing, something the feds abandoned more than 15 years ago.

"The federal government collects half our taxes," said Robertson. "It would be great to see them funding some of these efforts on homelessness which affect the entire country and disproportionately affect Vancouver."

The new projects are slated to be built at the following locations:

  • 1233-1251 Howe Street
  • 215 W. 2nd Avenue
  • 1134 Burrard Street
  • 590 Alexander Street
  • 675 E. Broadway
  • 606 Powell Street
  • 1050 Expo Blvd.
  • 7th Avenue and Fir Street

With a report from CTV British Columbia's Peter Grainger