Co:Here Housing Community all set to welcome new residents

Salsbury Community Society board member Laurie Duke placing a rock to mark God’s faithfulness with Co:Here. Photo by Rob Nutting.

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 ready and waiting for people to move in and call it home.

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:

It was a great event and folks were excited to see the finished building. We’re still in a place of limbo, as we wait to receive the occupancy permit, and wait for final sign-off from the Certified Professionals. So we haven’t moved in.
By God’s grace, we will start welcoming 34 people into their new homes next week. We have faced six months of delays, and these last few weeks have been particularly hard as we have had to find temporary accommodations for many of our tenants.

A home for everyone

Pastor Tim Dickau at the ground-breaking event.

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.

Unique features

Co:Here from Victoria Drive, south of 1st Avenue.

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.

Co:Here dedication and blessing 

Pastor Joy Banks led the service of blessing. Photo by Rob Nutting.

Following is the blessing used at Grandview February 11.

Seven rocks to mark God’s faithfulness: 
After each rock placement:
Thus far,
we have come with God’s help.
Prayer of blessing:
Gracious God, we acknowledge with deep gratitude that this building is the work of your hands. Even as we have looked behind at the story of your faithfulness, we want to now look ahead and ask your blessing on this building and all those who will live, visit, work or pass by this place.
Who will offer the blessing of welcome?
Loving God, you who invited us in while we were still strangers, we ask that you would shape this community here as an expression of your welcome. May the role of welcomer and the welcomed be continually turned upside down and lead to the transformation of this community and the neighbourhood.
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit: as it was in the beginning, is now and will be forever. 
Who will offer the blessing of solidarity?
Jesus, you who were God and yet came and walked among us as our brother, we ask that you form a community of deep solidarity here in this place. May those who live, visit, or work in this building intentionally come alongside each other in the many ups and downs in live. May they know your compassionate presence through the presence of each other.
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit: as it was in the beginning, is now and will be forever. 
Who will offer the blessing of belonging
Holy Spirit, in a city where so many are isolated, we ask that you would foster in Co:Here a place of belonging and home. May this community be a place every person is important, valued, and known. We ask that this belonging would ripple out beyond these walls and create greater belonging in this neighbourhood.
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit: as it was in the beginning, is now and will be forever. 
Who will offer the blessing of stewardship
Creator God, we acknowledge that all we have is yours and is meant for the flourishing of all people and all creation. May those who live, visit, and work here steward well the gift of this building, the community, the plants that grow here, the soil and water of this land, the many seen and unseen creatures that will share this land. May we all who gather here today steward well this story of the birth of Co:Here.
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit: as it was in the beginning, is now and will be forever. 
Who will offer the blessing of grace? 
Merciful God, we thank you for the countless ways that you have extended grace and forgiveness to us on this journey. We acknowledge that much more grace will be needed to live into the vision that you have given for this building and this community. May your grace cover and be tangibly expressed in the community life you form here.
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit: as it was in the beginning, is now and will be forever. 
May the love of God, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with this community of Co:Here and all of you who have gathered here today. Amen. 
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