UNCEDED KWANTLEN, KATZIE, KWIKWETLEM, QAYQAYT TERRITORY (SURREY): BC Housing is planning to close down 46 units of low-income housing this week, as COVID-19 rates surge and hundreds, if not thousands, of BC renters face homelessness in the coming weeks with the end of the eviction moratorium in September.
Nickerson Place, a two-year-old modular housing building in the Whalley neighbourhood of central Surrey, operated by Lookout Society, is being shuttered so that the high-end real estate developer Bosa Properties can build a luxury condo tower on the site. The City of Surrey approved Bosa Properties’ application despite vocal opposition from the low-income community, including Nickerson Place residents.
The City of Surrey and BC Housing always intended Nickerson Place to be a temporary site, but promised that permanent housing would be built in time to rehouse residents. Since opening modular housing to displace the “Whalley Strip” encampment on 135A Street two years ago, homelessness in Surrey has continued to grow as evictions and low-income housing demolitions have far outpaced the opening of welfare rate affordable housing. Now BC Housing and the City of Surrey are shutting Nickerson Place down quietly, without so much as acknowledging that the closure means the loss of 46 welfare-rate units for a condo tower.
Kristina Freberg, a resident of Nickerson Place said, “Lookout just evicted a bunch of people, instead of giving them housing. Who knows where I’ll go. Nobody’s helping me find a place, and it’s not easy down here with no job, no ID, a criminal record.”
With COVID-19 cases at an all-time high in BC, Freberg and other Whalley residents are shocked that the City, Lookout Society, and Bosa Properties are quietly destroying nearly 50 units of low-income housing.
Isabel Krupp, an organizer with Red Braid Alliance for Decolonial Socialism, has been advocating with Nickerson Place residents against the demolition of their home. Just days before Lookout’s final evictions and BC Housing’s planned demolition of Nickerson Place, she called for clemency for the badly needed housing. “The streets of Surrey are already crowded with over a thousand homeless people, and with waves of evictions due to failure to pay rent expected as the Province’s selective moratorium expires, we will only see more people living in tents, cars, couches, and shelters. Tearing down modular housing is the last thing the government should be doing,” she said.