13:08 PM

Province preserving low-income housing in the Downtown Eastside

VANCOUVER - More low-income housing will soon be available to people living in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside (DTES) as the Province, through BC Housing, has purchased the 48-unit Keefer Rooms apartment building.

“We know that people throughout the province are struggling to find housing and need more affordable options in their community,” said Ravi Kahlon, Minister of Housing. “By purchasing this property on Keefer Street, we are taking steps to prevent homelessness before it begins by preserving valuable low-income housing and partnering with organizations that will provide additional support to those who need it.”

The Province, through BC Housing, bought Keefer Rooms, located at 222 Keefer St., to prevent much-needed affordable housing from being lost to the private market. The building has 48 single-room occupancy (SRO) units, but has been vacant since September 2022, due to a fire.

“The Downtown Eastside is a community where people look after one another,” said Joan Phillip, MLA for Vancouver-Mount Pleasant. “I’m happy to see the Province recognize this with the purchase of this building, which will provide affordable housing for people in the Downtown Eastside and also include extra supports delivered by community organizations.”

The building will be operated by the Downtown Eastside Community Land Trust association, which will provide some onsite programming support, including food services support and harm reduction.

“The Downtown Eastside Community Land Trust is dedicated to protecting property from the private market and championing community ownership in the DTES,” said Norm Leech, board chair, of the association. “At Keefer Rooms, we’re working with community partners to create an innovative, holistic housing model that builds on and enhances the strengths of tenants and of the community.”

The vacant building is expected to be operational by spring 2025 following completion of renovations, which include window replacements and electrical- and fire-system upgrades.

“This is exciting news for tenants who were displaced by the fire at the Keefer, some who want to move back,” said Wendy Pedersen, executive director, Downtown Eastside SRO Collaborative. “We’re all really looking forward to getting our tenant-led initiatives going in the building, which will demonstrate how tenant empowerment is key to housing transformation in the community.”

This purchase is part of a $19-billion housing investment by the B.C. government. Since 2017, the Province has nearly 77,000 homes that have been delivered or are underway, including nearly 8,000 in Vancouver.

Learn More:

To learn about government’s new Homes for People action plan, visit: https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2023HOUS0019-000436

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

A backgrounder follows.