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New housing options for people with disabilities

Semiahmoo House Society

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"We look to do business with people that are aligned with our vision and our purpose and that’s where Vancity is way ahead of any other financial institution I know of." -- Doug Tennant, Semiahmoo House Society executive director.

Adults with developmental disabilities don’t have a lot of options in BC when it comes to their living arrangements. But the Semiahmoo House Society is hoping to help by building a unique development of 71 homes in Surrey, with 20 units reserved for people with disabilities. The remaining 51 will be offered at affordable rates to the wider community.

The most important aspect of the project is that people with disabilities will be able to live independently and still get the support they need from Semiahmoo, which is located right next door. Doug Tennant, executive director at the society, says that the project was first conceived of in 2004 but that it’s taken the support of Vancity more recently to get it off the ground.

“Vancity has been very flexible in figuring out ways to make our financing work and we’ve found the partnership to be extremely positive in helping us to get this project done,” says Doug

So far Vancity’s involvement includes a $20,000 grant for a business plan and feasibility study, a $200,000 pre-development loan, and a $1.35 million line of credit to cover expenses during construction. The White Rock community branch has also provided help with day-to-day banking services and the society’s fundraising efforts.

“This development really shows how all of us at Vancity can come together to support a high impact member,” says Jenn McGinn, the account manager in Vancity’s community business team who first developed a relationship with Semiahmoo. “It’s been a truly inclusive and collaborative approach and I think they appreciate the breadth of services they’ve received from us.”


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