Forty-one women who had been sleeping in alleys or shelters will now have a safe place to call home with the opening of a new women’s housing complex in the Downtown Eastside.
Rainier Hotel was bought, renovated and finally reopened Wednesday after a $9.5 million contribution from the provincial and federal governments and $5 million from Health Canada.
The 41-unit, single-room occupancy (SRO) hotel will have a 20-unit treatment program for women in recovery from detox, and 21 self-contained units for tenants.
“In our community there is a lot to be sad about,” said Liz Evans, founder of the Portland Hotel Society, which will be managing the third-floor units.
“This building represents homes and hope for the women in this community. This will have a great impact on the lives of the people here.”
Rich Coleman, minister of Housing and Social Development, said the new building “means nothing if the people in it aren’t provided with an opportunity to change their lives.”
“Housing with support services is the absolute key here,” he said. “Access to secure, affordable housing with integrated support services is an important step toward breaking the cycle of homelessness.”
Heather Hay, with Vancouver Coastal Health, called the announcement a “benchmark day” for the women of the Downtown Eastside.
“Housing is often the first step in recovery, but it isn’t enough,” she said. “By offering a range of supports to vulnerable women after detox treatment, we are giving them the tools to become stable, regain control of their health and establish a foundation for ongoing recovery.”