An affordable housing project on church land in Langley Township has finished construction ahead of schedule, and will soon welcome families and seniors.
“It really is a dream come true,” said Pastor Kristen Steele.
Emmaus Place is located on land that was owned – until the Oct. 15 handover – by the Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran Church on 72nd Avenue, just east of 200th Street.
But last year, construction began on a dream the congregation has nurtured for almost four decades, of building housing to support local seniors.
As of this week, the land will officially become the property of the SVLC Langley Housing Society – an non-profit created by the church – and Catalyst Community Development, one of the partners in the project.
The church has stood in the 20000 block of 72nd Avenue since the 1980s, dating back to the days when Willoughby was a largely rural patchwork of acreages and small hobby farms, and land was relatively cheap.
The church and its parking lot took up only a fraction of the lot, leaving plenty of space for other projects, but it wasn’t until a few years ago that partnerships with non-profits like Catalyst and BC Housing provided the opportunity to move forward.
Now a small village of buildings has arisen on the church land, with 70 apartment units for seniors and 12 townhouses for families.
Quadra Homes donated $400,000 to the project, and the Township’s new policy to waive development cost charges for affordable housing construction was used for the first time on Emmaus Place.
The province provided $8.7 million and construction financing for the project, with the church providing land.
Rents are expected to start at $650 to $900 per month for the studio apartments, and range from $850 to $1,200 per month for one-bedroom units.
Based on the principle that rent shouldn’t cost more than 30 per cent of income, the units will mostly go to people or families making between $28,000 to $58,000 a year.
Steve Trummler, a church member who has been working on the project for five years, noted that early discussions talked about a mix of families and seniors, so the project would be multi-generational.
There’s also a playground on the site, and Trummler said he hopes it will be used by the children who live there, as well as by their friends from the surrounding area.
There are also garden boxes for the use of the local seniors and families.
The start for the move-in is expected to be January 1, 2021.
Although the COVID-19 pandemic is putting a damper on any plans for big gatherings in the near future, Steele said the church also wants to reach out to their soon-to-arrive neighbours. They already have a number of community programs, and they will look at creating more specifically to serve the new residents, if there are needs they can meet.
“It really is about creating community,” she said.
The project is named Emmaus Place after the story from the Gospel of Luke, in which Jesus, after his resurrection, appeared to two disciples, but they did not recognize him until Jesus broke bread with them, after which “their eyes were opened.”