The Co:Here Housing Community has been dedicated, celebrated and blessed. The only thing left now is to wait for final approval for 34 residents to move in to the brand new building at the corner of 1st and Victoria in east Vancouver – and that should happen any day now.
During both its February 11 services, members of Grandview Calvary Baptist Church told stories about the project and, in the words of the invitation, “the ways in which God has providentially kept it going.” Following both services, they made their way from the church – one block west of Co:Here – to share in food, live music, tours and a blessing of the Co:Here community.
Long time coming
The road to completion has been a long one, beginning with the purchase of land at the corner of 1st and Victoria. It was used for years as a parking lot for the church, but was always intended as a location for community social housing.
Co:Here is a partnership between Grandview Calvary and Salsbury Community Society, which grew out of the church and now operates affordable supportive housing communities and other programs.
Jeanette Moss, operations director for Salsbury, said:
A home for everyone
Speaking at the ground-breaking ceremony for Co:Here on June 30, 2016, Grandview Calvary pastor TIm Dickau said:
In various places in the Bible, we find this vision of a society where everyone has a home – which is an especially significant dream, given that the Hebrew people in the Bible were for long periods landless and homeless. One of the marks of the early church was that they took those abandoned and homeless folk in the Roman empire and invited them to live with them.
The Co:Here housing project is part of this ongoing story and shares this same vision. From the time we began discussing how to utilize the lot we purchased next to our parking lot back in 2002, the focus has been on providing a home for those in our neighbourhood who are without a home, a stable home.
The Co:Here project offers some unique features. Here is how Salsbury describes its dream for the building:
Co:Here is a four-storey, affordable housing complex with 26 self-contained units: 18 studios, four one- and four two-bedroom units, designed with the recognition that space shapes engagement between people.
Our vision comes from our experience in creating intentional communities and the relationships we have with people in our neighbourhood.
We are building affordable housing that will bring together people from different economic backgrounds in a mutually transformative, supportive and nurturing environment that will allow all people to flourish. Because of this, Co:Here will be a building full of community meals, friendships with neighbours and shared responsibility for the space
The design of the building was carefully thought through, with the intention that the architecture itself would set the stage for intentional community. The main floor layout invites communal gathering through shared spaces both indoors and out: a communal kitchen and dining area, a living room, a community garden, a quiet room for meditation and prayer and an office for staff.
Tenants live on the three floors above in 26 self-contained units. Each floor is organized into two pods, each pod, of four to five units, shares a balcony and a small living room where tenants may meet. The building will be home to a mix of tenants; 18 units are designated for those who are low-income and homeless or close to homeless and eight units are for those choosing to open their lives to mutual friendship and community building.
Salsbury in the community
Along with Co:Here and community houses, a number of programs have grown from the partnership between Salsbury and Grandview Calvary in the Commercial Drive neighbourhood, including: Crossroads Community Meal, JustWork, JustPotters, JustCatering, JustRenos, The Potter’s House Studio, Eastside Story Guild, Stillpointe Urban Retreat Centre, Kinbrace (Refugee Housing) Society, Resist Exploitation Embrace Dignity (REED), MOMS (Mothers Offering Mentorship and Support), CLEAN Break laundry program. Go here for more detail.
Following is the blessing used at Grandview February 11.