B.C. to help out in poverty-stricken neighbourhoods

Rafe Arnott/metro vancouver


Premier Gordon Campbell leaves a press conference yesterday after announcing the province’s purchase of six single-room occupancy hotels in the Downtown Eastside.

The province announced yesterday that it has bought six single-room occupancy (SRO) hotels in the Downtown Eastside for Vancouver’s homeless.

"This is part of an initiative to expand housing opportunities and stability for people," said Premier Gordon Campbell.

He said that three of the six buildings — the Gastown, Shaldon and Arco hotels — are already housing people. The other three — the Pender, Marr and Rainier hotels — are currently being renovated and will soon provide 115 more rooms for the homeless.

Housing Minister Rich Coleman said that this brings the total number of provincially subsidized units to 2,400 since last April.

The buildings, which total $23.7 million, will be turned over to non-profit organizations to manage and provide support services for their tenants.

"They’re places where healing can begin, where stability can start," said Campbell.

David Eby, lawyer for the Pivot Legal Society, said he was glad to hear the announcement but that he takes it with a grain of salt.

"At the end of the day, they protected about 20 per cent of the privately held low-income housing and there are still 3,900 units that are currently closing at an incredible rate," he said.

According to Eby, five low-income housing buildings in the Downtown Eastside have either closed or been given eviction notices in the past three months alone.

police call ratios

  • The Vancouver Police Department recently released a report that revealed that one-third to one-half of all police calls involve the mentally ill. They say that the additional supported housing would help the VPD tremendously.

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