Updated: Jul 17
Harmony Apartments are under threat, in an attack on inclusive and affordable housing
By Spencer van Vloten
June 23rd, 2021
A project of UNITI, a long-time provider of community services, Harmony is a 91-room, 6-story apartment complex in Surrey, which would offer affordable and inclusive housing for persons with disabilities, seniors, low-income families, essential workers, and others shut out of BC's pricey housing market.
Harmony represents a successful model of housing in BC for persons with disabilities, but unfortunately it is under attack by misinformation, which not only jeopardizes Harmony Apartments, but the idea that everyone has a right to a home in their community.
Harmony is based on an award-winning model of inclusive and affordable housing
At the Surrey Council Meeting on Monday, April 26th, Council sent UNITI’s inclusive and affordable Harmony apartment project back to City Staff to respond to comments made by opponents to the project.
Unfortunately, people who called in to oppose Harmony were not accurate about the project or the tenants who will be living there. Much misinformation has been spread, and there is a mistaken belief that the building will be a shelter for addicts and people from outside the community.
Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum has repeated misconceptions about Harmony, equating the inclusive and affordable apartment project with a homeless shelter
This misinformation has spread to the Mayor and Council as well, with the project being equated to a homeless shelter and dumping ground for people from outside of the community, when it is nothing of the sort.
A Dangerous Precedent
Harmony will replicate the inclusive model achieved by UNITI’s award winning Chorus Apartments. This is housing for the South Surrey community—essential workers, seniors, people with disabilities, students, and families.
If Harmony is not built, the dreams of many people seeking quality affordable housing, including people with disabilities, will be crushed. This is not just a Surrey issue, but one with important implications for all persons with disabilities and low-income families.
Opposing Harmony will set a dangerous precedent province-wide, as affordable and inclusive housing for persons with disabilities gets conflated with being a nuisance that disrupts communities.
Opposing Harmony will set a dangerous precedent province-wide
Peace Arch News has done a story about the campaign to educate people about inclusive and affordable housing. If you are on Facebook, please consider going to that post and leaving your thoughts about what Harmony will mean to you and to the community.
Please also contact Surrey City Councillors and the Surrey Mayor, to let them know you support Harmony.
We need projects like Harmony to succeed in order for housing to finally become inclusive and affordable for British Columbians with disabilities, and those who have been price.
Spencer van Vloten is the editor of BC Disability. To get in touch, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org!