More Than A Roof Mennonite Housing Awarded Phase One of Little Mountain Redevelopment in Vancouver


April 29, 2014


Vancouver – More Than a Roof has been selected to manage and operate a 53-unit rental housing development for low-income, independent seniors and people with disabilities at the Little Mountain site in Vancouver.


The building, the first to be built on the Little Mountain site, is located at 155 East 37th Avenue in Vancouver and offers 53 one and two bedroom affordable housing units.  Occupancy is projected to commence in fall, 2014 with priority placement beginning with prior Little Mountain residents who qualify for the project.


 “What More Than A Roof does is bring people home,” says executive director Lorne Epp, “so adding a senior’s, independent living community to our portfolio is a welcome opportunity for us.”


More Than a Roof brings close to 30 years of experience in developing, building and managing inclusive communities of affordable housing in the Lower Mainland, Prince George and on the Island for low to moderate income families and individuals, some of whom live with mental health challenges and addictions.


Little Mountain is More Than A Roof Housing’s 11th community serving British Columbians.


Media Contact

Lorne Epp – Executive Director



Learn more about More Than A Roof at


Reaching our neighbours
June 1, 2013

MBs respond to the homelessness crisis

When Fairview-Louth MB Community Church outgrew their rural location west of St. Catharines, Ont., and decided to relocate to a more central/south-end location in 2003, few would have guessed just how transformative the move would be.

“We didn’t know what we were getting into,” says Tim Arnold, outreach pastor at what is now known as Southridge Community Church.

The decision to relocate was the result of several factors including a transition in leadership, prayer, and a growing desire to have greater impact in their city, particularly among poor and marginalized people. “As we delved into Old Testament prophets like Micah, and looked at Jesus’ ministry,” says Arnold, “we became increasingly aware that our lifestyle needed to have an element of reaching out to the marginalized.”

Part of that required being closer to the city’s 130,000 people.

It didn’t take long for the congregation to be confronted by some harsh realities: an estimated 4,428 individuals – including families – are homeless or at risk of homelessness across the Niagara Region, where Southridge is located. Within months of the move, the church responded by opening its doors (as part of St. Catharines’ Out of the Cold program) to provide a warm place for people to sleep during the harsh winter nights.

The city needed longer-term solutions that could better provide a sense of place, and assist homeless residents to get back on their feet. Before long, officials approached Southridge to see if the church would partner with the city to start a full-time, year-round shelter.

Shelter core to congregation

The congregation obliged and, in 2005, launched the 35-bed Southridge Shelter out of what was initially the youth wing of their facility. With two-thirds of the shelter’s funding coming from the Region and the remaining third from the church, Southridge is now the largest provider of emergency shelter in Niagara, and is most often at or near capacity.

Residents of the shelter typically stay for about a month, and include everyone from refugees and newcomers, to people living with mental health issues or addictions, to those who have just lost a job.

While Arnold wishes the need weren’t so great, he knows his church is playing an important role. “Our goal is to provide people with stability and a loving community,” he says. “We help prepare people for their next steps, whether that is waiting to get into supportive living arrangements, affordable housing, or treatment programs.”

Arnold makes it clear the shelter is not a separate entity from the church but a core part of Southridge’s identity and mission. On a weekly basis, staff and upward of 200 volunteers from the congregation help prepare meals, run programs, and spend time with the residents. Many of those residents, says Arnold, have become part of the church community.

“Our prayer for the shelter is that it would be more than just a program for alleviating people’s tangible needs,” says Arnold. “It’s about facilitating relationships and experiencing what God has to teach us through the people who matter so deeply to him.”

Growing national crisis

The situation in St. Catharines isn’t unique. Canada has a growing housing crisis that is leaving people on the streets or precariously housed. The causes are varied: rising rents, insufficient incomes, shortage of affordable housing, and political wrangling.

A recent parliamentary report estimates the number of homeless people in Canada to be as high as 150,000–300,000. Those most at risk for homelessness include recent immigrants, Aboriginal people, and children in lone-parent families.

Just as the prophet Jeremiah called on the Israelite exiles to “seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you” (Jeremiah 29:7), MBs across Canada are seeking the well-being of their neighbourhoods by extending a sense of place and home to people who are homeless. And as they reach out, they are having a profound impact.

Affordable housing plus

Across the country from Southridge, the same focus on home inspires B.C.’s More Than a Roof Mennonite Housing Society (MTR). Started almost 30 years ago by two Christian real estate developers who realized the desperate need for more affordable housing in and around Vancouver, MTR (first incorporated as MCC Housing) built its first affordable housing project in 1986. Today, MTR has successfully built 10 affordable housing communities, providing homes to some 1,100 people, including single mothers, people with severe chronic mental illness, and those struggling with addictions.

Although MTR has cultivated close business relationships with external stakeholders and various levels of government to secure funding, land, and regulatory approval, they work closely with local churches and continue to be inspired and led by a deep Christian faith.

“We care about homeless people because Christ cares,” says MTR executive director Lorne Epp, member of North Langley Community Church. “Jesus always responded to extreme human need around him with respectful compassion, generosity, dignity, and care.”

While MTR’s nine-member board comes predominantly from MB churches, the organization’s staff and volunteers represent Christians from across the denominational spectrum. Each week, they gather for prayer and encouragement in their collective ministry of providing “more than a roof” to people in need.

Each MTR site is unique. Some are designed for families, others for singles, including specially designated units for people in addiction recovery or living with mental illness. Each boasts bright, roomy suites and on-site staff. Many of the sites also regularly host community-building programs such as summer barbecues and holiday dinners. MTR has even assisted residents in starting on-site microenterprises, and runs a financial literacy and goal-setting program.

Walking through three of MTR’s housing communities in Vancouver’s Yaletown neighbourhood, Epp smiles and greets each resident by name. It’s evident that Epp “walks the talk” when it comes building a place to call home.

Stable housing makes all the difference

In his 20 years with MTR, Epp has seen first-hand how important that sense of home is for a person’s well-being. Epp and MTR know from experience what researchers are just starting to catch onto: providing someone with a decent, affordable place to live, along with a supportive community, is an important first step in enabling someone to address the deeper issues they face. (Known as the “housing first” approach.)

Such was the case with Heather, a resident at MTR’s 87-unit Kindred Place in Yaletown. After her husband was killed in an accident, Heather turned to what she knew to cope with the tragedy: drugs and alcohol. She ended up in the sex trade, got into trouble with the law, and found herself homeless.

“I prayed for the desire and the willingness to get my life back on track,” recounts Heather. “It took many avenues, whether it be the penal system, or the recovery homes, or the treatment centres [to get me here], but it’s stable housing” that made the difference, she says.

The secure, loving environment offered by MTR enables residents to improve their well-being and experience God. Heather now works as a support counsellor in a women’s recovery program. She says that she’s found peace because she’s finally living the way God intended.

Although Heather’s story is unique, those of other MTR residents’ all have common threads according to Epp. “People need someone to put their arm around them and to tell them they care,” he says. (Watch Heather and others tell their story here.)

Light in the darkness

“As Christians, we’re called to embody a message that profound change is possible, to bring light to darkness. For the tenants we do life with, we have a 24-hour opportunity to embody the gospel,” says Epp.

Perhaps not surprisingly, MTR’s impact has reached far beyond its residents. As a leader in responding to homelessness in B.C., MTR has come to be held in high regard by community leaders, business partners, and politicians of all stripes. Epp sees this as an incredible opportunity for Christian public witness, living out Jesus’ words in Matthew 5:16 to “let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”

Despite the difference that MTR continues to make, Epp maintains that more is needed. “Homelessness is a very complex social issue. The enormity of the problem is such that Christians can’t tackle it on our own. We need the combined resources and expertise of multiple institutional partners and multiple levels of government working together toward a common goal.”

National housing strategy

Epp’s sentiments are echoed by others across the country. Despite the ongoing efforts of churches, non-profits, and government, overall progress against homelessness has been slow. There simply isn’t enough affordable housing to keep up with the demand.

In St. Catharines, for example, 5,740 households (10,641 individuals) are on the wait-list for affordable housing. Vancouver’s waiting list includes 9,119 households. The most extreme case is Toronto, where 87,638 households wait up to nine years for affordable housing.

“Homelessness in Canada has been exacerbated by a growth economy,” says Epp. The effects of urbanization, globalization, and a relentless focus on economic growth-at-all-costs have left many people struggling to get by.

According to housing experts, the federal government’s strategy begun in the 1990s of downloading responsibility for affordable housing to the provinces and territories has only made things worse. Lacking the necessary fiscal capacity to invest in building, maintaining, and operating affordable housing, these levels of government have been unable to contain the crisis.

This February, more than 40 national church groups, affordable housing organizations, and professional associations called on the federal government to develop a national housing strategy. The bill failed, but it provided opportunity to renew dialogue among stakeholders working together to address this pressing issue.

Housing opens door to church

Back at Southridge, Arnold affirms the need for a multifaceted, comprehensive approach to homelessness in Canada while maintaining the central role of relationship. “Various supports are needed – including more funding – but a sense of home is crucial. Marginalization, at its core, is a relational issue.”

For Arnold and Epp, providing a sense of home to poor and marginalized people is a natural, core expression of their faith and a tangible way to help people in need.

But there’s more. Southridge’s shelter has become the main avenue for new people coming to the church. “While it was never part of our strategy, the shelter became an entry point into the church,” says Arnold.

“People are looking for more of a ‘show me’ church than a ‘tell me’ church, and to participate more than spectate. [The shelter] has drawn many people who weren’t into or had given up on church, but wanted to be involved in serving their community.”

Though their efforts may only be part of the solution to homelessness, Arnold and Epp – and the countless others ministering alongside them – are discovering open doors for reaching their broader communities.

Simon Lewchuk attends The Journey (MB church), Ottawa, Ont., and is a policy analyst at Citizens for Public Justice.



Visibly homeless: people sleeping on the streets or in emergency shelters

Hidden homeless: people who are “couch surfing” or have short-term, insecure housing arrangements, and are at high risk of homelessness

Core housing need: people who spend more than 30% of before-tax income on housing, or live in homes in need of major repair or that are overcrowded

Affordable housing: housing that costs less than 30% of before-tax household income, although often any below-average market rents are deemed to be affordable housing; delivered through social housing, non-profit housing, or private rent supplements


Visibly homeless: 150,000–300,000 people

Core housing need: 3.2 million people

Cost of homelessness: $4.5 – 6 billion/year (cost of emergency supports, hospitalization, and strain placed on correctional system)


Educate ourselves about homelessness and its causes
Volunteer at a local shelter or outreach program and get to know someone who is homeless
Encourage our church to reflect on poverty and homelessness. [only only] Suggested resources include:
God in the Alley by Greg Paul
Living Justice: a Gospel Response to Poverty by Citizens for Public Justice, a UK-based ecumenical website with ideas for prayers, liturgy and church-based activities for responding to homelessness [end opt cut]
Share your concerns with community leaders and elected officials
Ask questions




For Immediate Release

Oct. 11, 2011

Ministry of Energy and Mines

and Minister Responsible for Housing

Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, City of Vancouver


New supportive housing making a difference in Vancouver


VANCOUVER – People at risk of homelessness are getting the housing, support and help they need at two new buildings which provide 170 supportive housing apartments and 15 Seniors Rental Housing apartments in Vancouver. 


The Government of Canada, the Province of B.C. and the City of Vancouver invested nearly $50 million for two buildings, which provide people at risk of homelessness with affordable supportive housing. Station Street, managed by PHS Community Services Society, offers 80 supportive apartments, while Karis Place, managed by More Than A Roof Society, holds the remaining 90 supportive apartments plus an additional 15 apartments for low-income seniors and people with disabilities.


“Our Government is proud to have contributed to both of these supportive housing developments in Vancouver,” said the Honourable Alice Wong, Minister of State (Seniors), on behalf of the Honourable Diane Finley, Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development and Minister Responsible for Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). “These new apartments are helping the city’s most vulnerable – putting a roof over their heads and offering the stability and support they need to start a new chapter in their lives.”


“We are working with all levels of government and our non-profit partners to deliver the housing and supports that can help end homelessness in our province,” said Rich Coleman, Minister of Energy and Mines and Minister Responsible for Housing. “I would like to thank our partners for helping us make a difference in the lives of those who now call these new apartments home.”


The new buildings are the second and third supportive housing developments to officially open through the Province’s partnership with the City of Vancouver – that will create more than 1,530 new supportive housing units for people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. 



“Providing secure and affordable housing for people at risk of homelessness, low-income seniors and people with disabilities in our community is an important step towards meeting the core needs of the most vulnerable in our city,” said Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson. “We are committed to ending street homelessness in Vancouver by 2015 and I am proud of the strong partnerships we have in place to help achieve this important goal.”


Through an amendment to the Canada-British Columbia Affordable Housing Initiative, the federal government contributed close to $12 million to support the construction of the buildings. The Province of British Columbia provided more than $25 million and will provide approximately $1.6 million in annual operating funding. The City of Vancouver provided the land and waived development cost charges, valued at nearly $11 million. Additional funding will be provided by Vancouver Coastal Health for operations and support services at Karis Place.


“Homelessness in our province affects all of us, and the only way to really address the situation for the people who have been struggling on our streets, is if we all come together to say that we care about their future,” said Liz Evans, executive director and founder of PHS Community Services Society. “What's amazing about this announcement, is it really is an example of all three levels of government, private sector, and non-profits, coming together to create homes. Creating homes that will change lives for people who have up until now, had very few options other than shelters, hotel rooms or the street. It's hard to explain how critically important this type of housing is, for all of us.”


“Karis Place will assist those in our community who are at risk of homelessness and need a safe place to stay,” said Lorne Epp, executive director of More Than a Roof Housing Society. “This development provides stable supports for people who want to make positive changes in their lives and encourages self-sufficiency and promotes safe, healthy communities.”


In 2008, the Government of Canada committed more than $1.9 billion over five years to improve and build new affordable housing and to help the homeless. As part of this investment, the Affordable Housing Initiative and the federal renovation programs for low-income households were extended for two years, which represented some $60 million in federal funding for B.C. Canada's Economic Action Plan built on this with an additional one-time investment of more than $2 billion over two years for the construction of new and the renovation of existing social housing plus $2 billion in low-cost loans to municipalities for housing-related infrastructure.


A new agreement signed recently by both orders of government implements B.C.’s allocation of the remaining three years of the $1.9 billion, which amounts to a further $90 million in federal funding for British Columbians in housing need. The province will contribute another $90 million in matching funds for a combined investment of $180 million to support housing programs and services that help B.C. residents access safe, affordable housing.


The Province of British Columbia $14-billion capital infrastructure program is creating up to 88,000 jobs, building vital public infrastructure and stimulating local economies across the province.


To find out more about how the Government of Canada and CMHC are working to build stronger homes and communities for all Canadians, call CMHC at 1-800-668-2642 or visit: 


For more information on this and other measures in Canada’s Economic Action Plan, visit:


Over the last decade, the Province has invested $2.8 billion to provide affordable housing for low-income individuals, seniors and families. This year, more than 95,000 B.C. households will benefit from provincial social housing programs and services. To find out more, visit:


To learn more about provincial programs and services to address homelessness, visit: 


Two Backgrounders follow:

1. Station Street

2. Karis Place


Media Contacts:


Jeanette Wilkinson

Media Relations CMHC

B.C. Region

604 737-4025

Kathleen Vincent

BC Housing

604 456-8852

604 505-7749 City of Vancouver 

Corporate Communications

604 871-6336 Alyson Queen

Office of Minister Finley

819 994-2482


Connect with the Province of B.C. at:



For Immediate Release


Oct. 11, 2011

Ministry of Energy and Mines

and Minister Responsible for Housing

Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, City of Vancouver



Station Street


Station St., located at 1005 Station St. in Vancouver, is operated by PHS Community Services Society and provides 80 self-contained studio apartments with integrated support services for individuals who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. 


The development is a six-storey building located between National and Prior Streets. It includes residential amenity space and retail space on the ground floor fronting Main Street and one level of underground parking. 


Station Street was built to LEED Gold standards, incorporating multiple features which increase energy efficiency and reduce operating costs. These include walls, doors and windows designed to minimize air leakage and thermal bridging; a central heat recovery ventilation unit that allows for energy recovery from the building’s exhaust system; and a ground-source heat pump that serves ventilation, domestic hot water pre-heating and heat pumps for the main floor amenity and retail space.


The total capital cost of the residential component is approximately $20 million.

The Government of Canada, through CMHC, provided $4,572,000 under the Affordable Housing Initiative.

The Province of British Columbia is investing $12,105,325 for construction of the building.

The City of Vancouver provided the land, valued at $3,125,000, in addition to the capital cost for the retail space and $221,000 in waived development cost charges.


Operational Funding:

The Province of British Columbia will provide up to $1,031,813 annually in operational funding.


PHS Community Services Society


PHS Community Services Society, a non-profit association created in 1993, manages buildings that provide social housing and support, focusing on people with chronic substance abuse issues or dual diagnosis. The society helps promote, develop and maintain supportive affordable housing for adult individuals who are hard to house and at risk of homelessness due to their physical and/or mental health, behaviour, substance dependencies, and forensic history.



For Immediate Release


Oct. 11, 2011

Ministry of Energy and Mines

and Minister Responsible for Housing

Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, City of Vancouver



Karis Place


Karis Place, located at 1338 Seymour St. in Vancouver, provides 90 supportive apartments for individuals at risk of homelessness. It also includes 15 apartments for seniors and people with disabilities. Designed to LEED Gold standards, the 11-storey building includes amenities space, offices for support services and one level of underground parking. 


More Than a Roof Housing Society manages and operates the building. The society also provides support services including referrals to community based support services, living skills assistance, and around the clock support to facilitate successful and stable tenant and building environments.   


The total capital cost of this development is approximately $28.2 million.

The Government of Canada, through CMHC, provided $6,250,750 under the Affordable Housing Initiative and $1,113,750 under the stimulus phase of Canada’s Economic Action Plan.

The Province of British Columbia invested $13,340,203 for construction of the building.

The City of Vancouver provided the land, valued at $6,750,000, and $750,000 in waived development cost charges.


Operational Funding:

The Province will provide up to $638,210 annually in operational funding.

Vancouver Coastal Health will provide operational funding for support services.


More Than A Roof Housing Society


More Than a Roof Housing Society develops and manages inclusive communities of affordable housing for those affected by low to moderate incomes, those suffering with mental health issues, and those taking the bold step in addiction recovery. They seek to bring assistance, hope and meaning to people’s lives – they seek to “Bring People Home”.


Media Contacts:


Jeanette Wilkinson

Media Relations CMHC

BC Region

604 737-4025 Kathleen Vincent

BC Housing

604 456-8852

604 505-7749 City of Vancouver 

Corporate Communications

604 871-6336 Alyson Queen

Office of Minister Finley

819 994-2482




June 16, 2011

Society brings more people home 



            “This building has been a saving grace for me. I would have died if I had stayed where I was. I’ve gained a pretty positive perspective just by living here.”

            Hearing such comments is commonplace for the people who run More Than A Roof Housing Society. And they’re about to hear more.

            The Society celebrated its 25th anniversary on Sunday, June 12, by offering tours of its 10th affordable housing community.            The high-rise Karis Place, at 1338 Seymour Street in Vancouver, will provide studio apartments for 105 people, all of whom were previously homeless or at risk of being homeless. Seven of the units are wheelchair accessible, 15 are reserved for seniors, and 30 are designated for addiction recovery in partnership with Vancouver Coastal Health. The residents were expected to start moving in the next week.

            Karis Place is the first of 12 sites to open in a plan by the City of Vancouver and the Province of British Columbia to reduce the city’s homeless population, currently estimated to be a little above 1500 people.

            Having a stable address is a vital step for people who have been on the street, allowing them to get consistent medical care and counseling. As their hopes revive, some are able to return to the work force.

            Providing social housing units such as Karis Place costs governments between $22,000 and $28,000 per resident. But that is considerably less than the $30,000 to $40,000 it costs to house people in temporary shelters and the $66,000 to $120,000 the United Way estimates it costs society to deal with homeless individuals (through prisons, hospitals, ambulances, etc.).

            But the Society does more than just provide stable housing. “They actually build a community of people,” is the way one resident puts it. 

             Similar to More Than A Roof’s other communities, Kindred Place has generous common living spaces. There are community meals and other activities. And staff are on hand to listen to residents’ concerns and see they get whatever help they need.

            More Than A Roof knows its model works because it already operates two other social housing high rises in downtown Vancouver, the 62-unit Candela Place at 1267 Granville Street and the 87-unit Kindred Place at 1321 Richards Street. This is in addition to seven other complexes, with various types of social housing, in BC’s Lower Mainland, in Victoria and in Prince George.

            More Than A Roof was founded by Mennonite Central Committee BC, the social services arm of Mennonite churches, but became a separate society in 2003. Since its founding, the society has provided housing for more than 1000 people.

            What More Than A Roof does is “bring people home,” says executive director Lorne Epp.

            The tours of Karis Place were followed by a reception and celebration dinner.

            Guest speaker was Paul Born, director of the Ontario-based Tamarack – An Institute for Community Engagement. Tamarack’s Vibrant Communities initiative is active in 12 cities and has so far reduced the impact of poverty for more than 120,000 people in Canada.

            Born described his upbringing in a Mennonite community and then outlined the stages that make community, based on research for his upcoming book: connectedness, involvement, commitment, belonging and identity.

            While More Than A Roof’s buildings are largely funded by government social housing grants, Epp announced a two-year, $500,000 fundraising campaign for three projects. $200,000 will go to the society’s Next Step Savings Program, which provides matching grants to encourage residents of its complexes to put money into a savings program; the money is then used by the residents to take training courses and start small businesses in order to become self-supporting. Another $200,000 will go to buying a home to house at least five individuals with mental health issues in North Vancouver. The final $100,000 will go to start a culinary arts school in the Karis Place kitchen, which will train residents for jobs in the food industry. 


For more information:  



Comments from residents of Kindred Place and Candela Place           


“When I came in, I was surprised by how quiet and clean it was and how friendly everybody is. I’ve never had a room like that in a long time.” 


‘It’s really been a great experience. They spend a lot of time helping the tenants. If you need help, they are there to comfort you.”


“They have Christmas dinner, Easter dinner, Thanksgiving dinner, pancake breakfasts, barbecues on the beach. They actually build a community of people. They try to get the people involved in keeping the building clean.” 


“Being here, what it has done for the people I know, it has given them the time to spend working on whatever they have to work on.”


“They care about you.”


“This building is my family.”


“I’ve grown closer to God and Jesus. For some people, it’s not much, but it’s enough to keep me satisfied in my heart. The management … work hard every day to provide a room for us. They’re so easygoing. I feel like an angel being among them.”


“I lived on the streets for 15 years. Even last summer when we had that heat wave, I didn’t want to leave, no matter how hot it was. There is a security here and safety and respect among people. It’s as real as it gets.”


“It’s about neighbourhood. In a neighbourhood, you look out for one another. You get to know the people around you, and you feel safer in that environment. You learn to care more about other people. I didn’t have a job or a place to live. I was living in a hotel and didn’t know where I was going to end up. I got accepted here and felt on top of the world. It gave me a sense of hope and a sense of community, that I knew where I was going to be, so then I could forge my life from there. I feel a lot of dignity in where I’m living and where I’m at in life now.”


“I went from a place with no elevator and many problems to be accepted here. It was like a night and day experience. I was absolutely elated, and still am. I couldn’t believe that finally something good happened in my life. Tolerance is so widespread in here. People may see me with my walker or my cane, and they’re willing to give me a helping hand. I feel like I’m in a home, which is a community of different people with different issues, but there’s no judgment. For the first time in many years, I’m accepted for who I am, accessories and all. It’s a new beginning. I can now start to live and not worry about my future.”


“Coming to Kindred Place was like an answer to prayer and a dream come true. My life has changed in a lot of different ways, from living on the streets to having a stable home. My health has improved dramatically. I’ve got friends now. I’ve got supports. I’m clean and sober.”


“Community means knowing the names and faces of just about everybody that lives here. It means people asking me, ‘How are you doing?’ and not just nodding in the elevator. People will stop, make eye contact, say my name, ask what’s going on in my life and remember what was last week’s thing. A couple of weeks ago, my neighbour knocked on my door to ask me for help. He told me later that he knew he would get the help he was looking for by knocking on my door. That’s community. That’s what’s happening in this magical place. It’s been a long time since I put a root down, let alone more than one root. I walk in the door, and I’m home. I see faces that I know and am coming to love, mostly. I feel grounded. The way back up was looking really really steep. I wasn’t confident that I’d be able to stand as an integral person again, but here I am. I have my confidence back. That’s a really good place to stand and build a life from. I am not ever leaving because I can’t tell you how long it’s been since I’ve had this sense of home. It’s amazing what’s happened.”



A Hi and a Smile

Comments on More Than A Roof by Paul Born, following a recent visit with some of the residents of Kindred Place and Candela Place


            I grew up as a refugee immigrant. Nothing more defines me than that. I’m a Mennonite, I’m a social activist, and I have the sense that we need to make the world right.

            As I went around the room and people introduced themselves to me, all I could think is that there but for the grace of God go I. Because their stories are not stories of desperation — there were a couple of dramatic ones — but a lot of the stories were of people who had jobs and careers and then something happened.

            What I found so interesting is what it meant for them to come to More Than A Roof — they were expecting a nice place to live, and they got a lot more. One lady said, “That’s why they call it More Than A Roof.”

            If I were to sum up what that more is, it is a “Hi” and a smile. It’s something we take absolutely for granted, that we get up in the morning and someone says “Hi” and smiles at us. But they shared story after story of the loneliness they had felt, the fear they had felt, where they were living before.

            Then you create a place like Kindred Place, where they get to know each other. And it doesn’t just happen by osmosis. It happens from all the events that get run. It happens with really committed staff. And that begins to spread — the “Hi” and the smile start to happen in everyday ways.



May 18th, 2007 Government of Canada News Release





Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation

Ministry of Forests and Range

And Minister responsible for Housing

Vancouver Coastal Health





VANCOUVER – Construction has begun on an 87-unit, $17.7-million supportive housing development that will help people at risk of homelessness and those recovering from alcohol and drug dependencies.

“Canada’s New Government is working to ensure funding is available for projects like this one in Vancouver that address the challenges of homelessness in communities across the country,” said Ed Fast, Member of Parliament for Abbotsford, on behalf of the Honourable Monte Solberg, Minister of Human Resources and Social Development. “This project will make an important difference in the lives of individuals who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.”

The 10-storey building, being built on Richards Street in Vancouver’s Downtown South, is one of the three new supportive housing projects on city-owned sites announced April 3 by Premier Gordon Campbell and the first of those projects to break ground. The project is part of the Provincial Homelessness Initiative, which aims to break the cycle of homelessness by integrating support services with housing so people may move beyond temporary shelter to more secure housing, gain greater self-reliance, and achieve appropriate employment.

“Kindred Place will provide professional support services and housing for people at risk,” said Claude Richmond, Minister of Employment and Income Assistance. “We know that combining long-term support with stable housing results in highly effective treatment for individuals who want to overcome their addictions.” Richmond went on to say that the province also funds many other services, including outreach and prevention programs.

“The Downtown South has lost significant numbers of single-room occupancy (SRO) units in the last decade. Providing replacement housing and alcohol-and-drug-free housing for lower-income people leaving detox programs is crucial,” said Vancouver Mayor Sam Sullivan. “The City of Vancouver is proud to be a partner in helping fill this vital need in our city.”

Vancouver Coastal Health will provide support services for 30 alcohol-and-drug-free units. Staff will assist tenants to enhance and maintain independent-living skills, connect with community resources and maintain treatment services.

“Adding another 30 units to our expanding range of alcohol- and drug-free housing options will go a long way towards helping people recovering from addictions,” said Ida Goodreau, president and chief executive officer for Vancouver Coastal Health. “Partnerships between housing and health providers are crucial for creating the kind of supportive environment that enables people to focus on their recovery and move on with their lives.”

More Than a Roof Mennonite Housing Society, a housing provider, advocate and resource group for people affected by low incomes and housing needs, will manage Kindred Place. They seek to bring assistance, hope and meaning to these people’s lives through the provision of secure affordable housing. The society has a successful track record of providing housing for those in severe need since 1984.

“We believe safe, affordable housing is a key factor in bringing stability, security and a better quality of life to people living in vulnerable circumstances,” said Lorne Epp, executive director of More Than a Roof. “Building of relationships and developing a sense of belonging to a supportive community are new opportunities for homeless individuals. This development offers our future tenants hope for a personal comeback, and a sense of purpose for the future.”

The Provincial Homelessness Initiative is an integral part of the provincial housing strategy, Housing Matters BC. The strategy includes a commitment to build new supportive housing units as a continuation of the ongoing work of the Premier’s Task Force on Homelessness, Mental Illness and Addictions. The Province has committed to creating 2,287 new housing units under the Provincial Homelessness Initiative. The Province’s budget for shelters and affordable housing is $328 million – nearly triple what it was in 2001.

The Government of Canada, through Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, will contribute more than $130 million by 2010 towards affordable housing in this province. The provincial government will provide a minimum of $34 million annually to subsidize the cost of units built under the Canada-BC Affordable Housing Agreement, as part of a larger strategy to provide a range of housing options for British Columbians in greatest need.



Kindred Place, Vancouver


Kindred Place, 1321 Richards Street in Vancouver, will provide 87 units of supportive housing for low-income singles. Thirty units are specifically designated for people recovering from addictions.

Tenants will have access to life-skills training, support groups and workshops on budgeting, conflict resolution and vocational options.

The 10-storey building will contain 320-square-foot studio suites and sufficient amenity space to provide the support services and programs necessary to assist the tenants in developing their independence and self-sufficiency.

Vancouver Coastal Health will provide housing support services for the 30 alcohol-and-drug-free units, including assisting tenants to enhance and maintain independent living skills, connect with community resources and maintain treatment services.


Partner Contributions


Capital budget for this project is $17,752,244

The Government of Canada, through CMHC, is providing a one-time grant of $1,287,500 through the Canada-BC Affordable Housing Agreement.

The Province is providing $6,569,244.

The City of Vancouver is providing a grant of $3,595,500 plus the land valued at $1,475,000.

The Vancouver Agreement, an urban development initiative of the governments of Canada, British Columbia and Vancouver, is providing $2,725,000.

Vancouver Coastal Health is providing a $2,100,000 in capital funding, plus staffing for support of the 30 alcohol- and drug-free units.


More Than A Roof Mennonite Housing Society


More Than a Roof Mennonite Housing Society was founded by Mennonite Central Committee in 1984 to develop housing-based solutions for people struggling with poverty, poor health and other difficult circumstances. The society’s “More Than a Roof” value-added philosophy aims to build supportive communities where people can heal and create positive change. The society provides housing for over 950 people in nine communities across British Columbia.





Copyright © 2018. More Than a Roof Mennonite Housing Society.