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  • Writer's pictureJohnny Yu

New West Record: New affordable housing in downtown New West will change lives

A new 66-unit affordable housing project in downtown New West is a “game-changer” for some folks in need of housing.

Performing Arts Lodges (PAL) New West features 26 studio and 40 one-bedroom homes, with rents ranging from $800 for a studio to $1,350 for a one-bedroom unit. It aims to provide housing for people with low to moderate incomes.

“We are just really, really, really excited to be here,” said Lynn Ross, executive director of PAL Vancouver. “We can't wait to meet the community and be a part of it. … We're just really, really grateful to everyone involved in the project.”

PAL Vancouver is operating the new building. The non-profit organization was established in 2001 to provide long-standing members of the performing arts profession with affordable housing.

At Friday’s ribbon-cutting ceremony, Ross told the Record people are “very, very excited” to move into the building in downtown New West.

“We really have a lot of interest,” she said. “We are moving people in in phases, but our first move-in should be in the next few weeks.”

PAL Vancouver has provided housing at its Coal Harbour location since 2006 and wants to provide affordable housing opportunities in other communities.

“It's a game-changer,” Ross said. “We want a PAL building in every city in Metro Vancouver. So, now we have one in New West, and we want multiple. We have 100 people on our waiting list at Cardero at any given time. The need is there; we know that. Now we just need partners, and we had a great partner with BC Housing, Vintop and the City of New Westminster. We just can't be happier, to be honest. It's really, really going to change a lot of lives.”

Ellie O-Day, who was Canada’s first female DJ, knows firsthand how it feels to be moving into a PAL building, as she lives in its Vancouver building.

“They're going to discover community, which is the amazing thing that happened,” she told the Record. “There are amazing opportunities.”

 Like many others working in the arts, O’Day said she earned less than $30,000 a year and had no pension beyond CCP and OAP.

“When the house that I rented with others for 16 years was finally sold, we were evicted. And I couldn't find a place to live in the centre of the city anymore,” she said. “PAL’s rental assistance allowed me to remain in Vancouver, sell my car, use transit, work from home and retire before I turned 67.”

Each unit in PAL New West includes a kitchen, dining area and in-suite laundry. Residents also have access to an amenity space and a top-floor outdoor terrace in the building.

“It's a community,” O’Day said. “Without that, there would be isolation. What we're fighting against is that senior’s isolation. So, here's to a new community in New Westminster.”



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