The Canadian mining company Goldcorp Inc. has unveiled a $5-million donation to be put toward building affordable housing in Vancouver.
"This has set the tone and launched us on our way to breaking the cycle of homelessness," Dick Vollet, CEO of the Streetohome Foundation, said after the announcement on Thursday.
The non-profit, in partnership with the city and the province, launched an unprecedented $225-million social-housing construction project in May, which currently has 1,000 units of stable housing in the planning phase. The Goldcorp donation brings Streetohome past the halfway mark on the road to its current capital campaign of $26.5-million.
"It is a huge donation and it's definitely going to make a big difference," said Judy Graves, who attended the event. "After many years of seeing the situation getting nothing but worse, it's very heartening."
The long-time housing advocate strained to think of other private contributions this large in her 20 years of community work. "It's very rare, and very exciting," she said.
Frank Giustra, Streetohome's capital campaign chair and Vancouver mining magnate, played a central role in persuading his connections in the business community to help foot the bill.
"Frank's a very successful and persuasive guy," said Chuck Jeannes, CEO of Goldcorp, who stressed the value of personal connections. "When he comes and talks passionately about something he's put a lot of his own money into, it's persuasive."
Mr. Jeannes laughed and twisted his arm when he mentioned Mr. Guistra's approach. The $5-million endowment to the campaign was spurred by Guistra's own $5-million donation in May, given through his Radcliffe Foundation.
"Without private sector partners throughout our communities, we would not be successful in meeting our targets," said Premier Gordon Campbell. "The core of solving the challenges we face is stable housing."
But the donation comes on the heels of a public slap on the wrist for Radcliffe Foundation, which was handed a $147,000 penalty this week by the Canada Revenue Agency for "excessive corporate holdings" - owning too much of a company's stock.
Mr. Guistra said it wasn't a concern for the foundation.
"It's no big deal," he told The Globe and Mail in a recent interview.