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Firefighters pledge 100K to South Surrey inclusive-housing project

Donation ‘will help ensure homes for people with developmental disabilities’

Fundraising to support construction of a 91-unit affordable and inclusive housing project in South Surrey received a much-welcomed boost from Surrey firefighters this month.

Officials with UNITI – a partnership of Semiahmoo House Society, Peninsula Estates Housing Society and The Semiahmoo Foundation – announced Thursday (Feb. 8) that the Surrey Fire Fighters Charitable Society has pledged $100,000 to the campaign for Harmony Apartments.

The pledge comes well in advance of UNITI’s public fundraising campaign – expected to launch later this year – “which is why we’re so very grateful for the firefighters support of inclusion,” UNITI CEO Doug Tennant said by email.

“This donation will help ensure that people with developmental disabilities are able to continue to live in the community where they have grown up and contributed to, in apartments with rental rates that they can afford – $500 or less a month.”

Society vice-president Dylan Van Rooyen said in a news release that firefighters are “pleased to support this important project to help address an urgent problem in our community and our country.”

“We are particularly drawn to the portion of the project that supports people with developmental disabilities,” he added.

Surrey council gave unanimous approval to the project in November 2023, after initially voting it down two years prior.

READ MORE: South Surrey inclusive-housing project defeated

The rejection triggered a public-awareness campaign that included release of Lauren’s Story, a documentary featuring advocate Lauren Simpson that aimed to demonstrate the “desperate” need for such housing in Surrey.

The video “brought the community together in support of Harmony,” Tennant said.

READ MORE: Rejected South Surrey inclusive-housing project subject of documentary

“UNITI was successful because of overwhelming community support for inclusion and the rights of people with disabilities to have the same housing options as everyone else in Surrey.”

Tennant said council issued final approvals for Harmony at its Jan. 29 meeting.

The $50-million project is expected to break ground in May, on land in the 15100-block of 20 Avenue. It will include a combination of inclusive, affordable and close-to-market-rate units, with 20 of those units to be rented to tenants with developmental disabilities.

Harmony will be the organization’s second purpose-built project in South Surrey. It is modeled on UNITI’s Chorus Apartments, a four-storey, 71-unit project that opened in 2016 at 2350 153 St.

Tennant said BC Housing is contributing $14.5 million of Harmony’s cost, and UNITI will fund the $35.5 million balance.

He described the firefighters’ charity as “a powerful group for good” whose support will help ensure the success of the capital campaign.

The society was founded in 1994 to fulfill unmet needs of the community, with a focus on the city’s children, youth and families. For more information, visit surreyfirefighters.com/charitablesociety

For more information on UNITI or the Harmony Project, visit uniti4all.com.



Tracy Holmes

About the Author: Tracy Holmes

Tracy Holmes has been a reporter with Peace Arch News since 1997.
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