14:50 PM

Housing on the way to support people living on Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside

VANCOUVER - Nearly 100 people experiencing homelessness on Vancouver's Downtown Eastside will soon have access to more housing.

The Province, through BC Housing, in partnership with the City of Vancouver, is starting construction on two temporary bridge-to-housing projects with 90 units.

"We need to do more to help people off the street, into dignified shelters and then into stable housing where they can access health supports and rebuild their lives," said Premier David Eby. "These temporary modular homes will serve as bridge-to-health supports and more permanent housing. This is just one part of our work to address homelessness and unsafe encampments."

These additional transitional, fixed-term homes with 24/7 supports are one more step to help address the housing need in Vancouver and provide more options for people experiencing homelessness. Located at 1500 Main St. and 2132 Ash St., both buildings are scheduled to open in March 2023 and will be in place for at least three years.

These new homes will be offered to people currently living in shelters, creating more shelter spaces for people residing in unsafe encampments, including along Hastings Street and in Crab Park. Both projects are undergoing an accelerated development permitting approval process through the City of Vancouver.

"These supported homes will help people move from shelters to transitional housing and get the supports they need to stabilize their lives and make long-term housing a reality," said Ravi Kahlon, Minister of Housing. "Thank you to BC Housing for its work and I look forward to continuing to work with all our partners, so we can help more people find a safe and secure place to call home."

Since July, more than 150 newly renovated indoor single-room-occupancy (SRO) spaces with support services have opened in Vancouver. These are in addition to 584 temporary shelter spaces and 88 emergency weather-response shelter spaces opened in Vancouver as of Nov. 30. 2022, to increase access to indoor space during the winter months.

"We are in the midst of one of the greatest crises facing our city's history," said Ken Sim, mayor, Vancouver. "Today's announcement from the Province makes meaningful progress toward achieving our shared goal of securing quality housing for our city's most vulnerable residents. We applaud the provincial government's continued response to the call for greater senior-level involvement in the crisis on the Downtown Eastside."

Bridge-to-housing projects provide spaces for those who are experiencing or are at risk of homelessness as a transitional step, while other permanent housing projects are in development.

"People can't break the cycle of homelessness while they're moving between the street and shelters, which is why this transitional housing will help more people secure more permanent housing," said Melanie Mark, MLA for Vancouver-Mount Pleasant. "In addition to finding people facing homelessness a stable and welcoming home, we're connecting them to the health, social and community supports they need to help get their lives back on track."

The new housing will help address unsafe encampments on the Downtown Eastside and support community-based solutions, so that people have a safe and suitable place to live. The Province is working with provincial government ministries, BC Housing, the City of Vancouver, and Indigenous and community partners on plans to address the immediate health, safety and housing needs and concerns along Hastings Street and in Crab Park by delivering longer-term housing and better co-ordinating services to deliver improved outcomes for people living on Vancouver's Downtown Eastside.

Learn More:

A map showing the location of all announced provincially funded housing projects in B.C. is available online: https://www.bchousing.org/homes-for-BC

To learn about the steps the Province is taking to tackle the housing crisis and deliver affordable homes for British Columbians, visit: https://workingforyou.gov.bc.ca/

To find out more about the 1500 Main St. project, ask questions and provide input, community members can connect with BC Housing online: Vancouver - 1500 Main Street | Let's Talk Housing BC (letstalkhousingbc.ca)

To find out more about the 2132 Ash St. project, ask questions and provide input, community members can connect with BC Housing online: letstalkhousingbc.ca/vancouver-2132-ash-street

   A backgrounder follows.


Facts about government-funded housing in B.C.

These homes are part of the Province's affordable housing investment of more than $7 billion over 10 years, which is the largest housing investment in B.C.'s history:

  • Since 2017, BC Housing has partnered with non-profit housing providers, municipalities and health authorities to fund and open more than 4,800 new supportive housing spaces throughout B.C. for people at risk of or experiencing homelessness, including more than 2,200 in Vancouver.
    • These include leased hotel spaces opened in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic that remain available to prevent people from being displaced, as well as supportive housing.
  •  Through provincial investments since 2017, there are more than 36,000 new homes complete or underway throughout the province, including more than 8,400 homes in Vancouver.
  • In Vancouver, a Housing First approach is supported through a 2021 memorandum of understanding signed by the attorney general and minister responsible for housing, the City of Vancouver and the Vancouver Park Board to establish roles and responsibilities in encampment response, and the approach emphasizes a humanitarian and collaborative approach with access to housing and a spectrum of supports.