B.C. protects additional Downtown Eastside SRO hotel

March 28, 2008

VANCOUVER – The Province is purchasing the 110-unit Tamura House at 398 Powell St. from the St. James Community Services Society for $2.4 million, equal to the balance of the mortgage, to protect affordable housing stock in Vancouver for those most in need.

“By buying this hotel, we are ensuring the smooth transition of existing low-cost housing from one non-profit operator to another, and providing tenants the opportunity to live in a stable housing situation,” said Minister responsible for Housing Rich Coleman.

The Lookout Emergency Aid Society, which already provides support services to tenants in approximately 35 of the building’s units, has agreed to assume immediate property management services and will become the long-term operator of the building.

The Province has now purchased 17 single room occupancy (SRO) hotels in Vancouver with 1,035 rooms, and is investing in approximately 1,200 long-term, supportive housing units on 12 sites owned by the City of Vancouver currently in the pre-development stage.

As with the previous SRO purchases, the Province will begin immediate life and safety upgrades, and begin planning for long-term renovations to improve the conditions for the tenants. Some tenants may need alternate accommodation during these renovations, but Lookout will make arrangements to ensure they have a place to live.

Tamura House is being acquired under the Provincial Homelessness Initiative, an integral part of the provincial housing strategy, Housing Matters BC. To date, the strategy has committed to create more than 4,000 housing units across the province as a continuation of the ongoing work of the Premier’s Task Force on Homelessness, Mental Illness and Addictions.

Budget 2008 increased the amount the Province invests in affordable housing and shelters to more than $380 million a year, more than three times as much as in 2001. Copies of the housing strategy can be downloaded from www.housing.gov.bc.ca .