People experiencing homelessness in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside are moving into new temporary supportive homes, made possible through a partnership between the Province, through BC Housing, and the City of Vancouver.
“The opening of these spaces marks another important step in breaking the cycle of homelessness for people in the Downtown Eastside,” said Ravi Kahlon, Minister of Housing. “These spaces will give a safe and more secure option to people currently living in shelters, and act as an important transition point in their move toward better housing.”
Sixty new transitional, fixed-term spaces with 24/7 support services are open at 1525 and 1535 Western St. Residents started moving in on Monday, July 17, 2023. A further 29 spaces, located at 2142 Ash St. and named Dovetail Annex, are expected to be complete in the coming weeks.
These temporary supportive housing spaces are primarily being offered to people living in shelters, as well as people living in encampments at CRAB Park and Hastings Street. This will create more shelter spaces for other people living in unsafe encampments or experiencing homelessness in Vancouver. Both projects will be in place for at least three years as part of ongoing work to address homelessness in the Downtown Eastside.
“Vancouver is making significant progress on delivering more housing for those who need it the most. These 89 new housing spaces will serve as an essential step toward securing permanent housing for some of Vancouver’s most vulnerable residents,” said Ken Sim, mayor of Vancouver. “We would like to express our gratitude to the provincial government and BC Housing, their ongoing support and partnership has been critical towards making these housing spaces a reality.”
Lu’ma Native Housing Society will operate the homes at 1525 and 1535 Western St. PHS Community Services Society will manage Dovetail Annex.
“Safe, secure and supportive housing options are vital to supporting people in the Downtown Eastside and neighbouring communities,” said Joan Phillip, MLA-elect for Vancouver-Mount Pleasant. “These 89 new units represent the next step in empowering our community members as they prepare to transition into new long-term housing solutions and restabilize their lives.”
Staff will be on site around the clock at both locations. Residents will be provided daily meals, harm reduction and health care, laundry facilities, cultural programming, and referrals to mental health, primary care and other community-based services. A portion of the units will have enhanced health supports. People on the Vancouver Coastal Health Mental Health and Substance Use Supported Housing waitlist will also be offered spaces.
These spaces are part of the Province’s ongoing work with community, non-profit operators, Indigenous and government partners to develop and implement a new co-ordinated response plan to support people experiencing homelessness. The plan focuses on helping people get off the streets and into appropriate housing to resolve encampments, and on strengthening health, social and cultural supports to make the Downtown Eastside a healthier, safer place for everyone.
Kevin Eaton, executive director of supportive housing, Lu’ma Native Housing Society –
“Lu’ma Native Housing Society is excited to partner with BC Housing, Vancouver Coastal Health and the City of Vancouver on the new Lu’ma Western Street WorkForce modulars affording an additional 60 supportive spaces to those Indigenous and non-Indigenous in need. We are pleased to deliver Indigenous-centred, culturally informed community supports along with enhanced on-site health supports benefiting those we serve in securing permanent housing. We are grateful to continue to partner with all levels of government to offer safe spaces for our community members in need.”
Tanya Fader, director of housing, PHS Community Services Society –
“Dovetail Annex is located at 2142 Ash Street, directly adjacent to our pre-existing modular housing at Margaret Mitchell Place. As we have already been operating housing at this location for several years, we are established in the neighbourhood and welcome the enhanced health supports that will assist us in building community connections and supports for residents of both buildings. We would like to note our appreciation for our neighbours in False Creek who continue to be welcoming and collaborative.”
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/
To find out more about the Province’s encampment and homelessness response initiatives, visit: https://www.bchousing.org/housing-assistance/homelessness-services/HEART-HEARTH
To learn more about the Province’s DTES response plan, visit: https://news.gov.bc.ca/files/Strategy_DTES_provincial_response_plan.pdf
To find out more about the 1525 and 1535 Western St. project, ask questions and provide input, community members can connect with BC Housing online: Vancouver - 1525 & 1535 Western Street | Let's Talk Housing BC (letstalkhousingbc.ca)
To find out more about the Dovetail Annex project, ask questions and provide input, community members can connect with BC Housing online: Vancouver - 2142 Ash Street | Let's Talk Housing BC (letstalkhousingbc.ca)
A backgrounder follows.