$14.5m SRO hotel opens for Downtown Eastside women


February 4, 2009

VANCOUVER – Women who are homeless or at risk of homelessness will have access to more supportive housing thanks to $14.5 million provided by the provincial and federal governments to purchase, renovate and operate Rainier Hotel, which officially reopened today.

“By opening the Rainier, we’re providing new hope and opportunities for women in the Downtown Eastside,” said Rich Coleman, Minister of Housing and Social Development. “Access to secure, affordable housing with integrated support services is an important step towards breaking the cycle of homelessness and revitalizing this community.”

The Province provided $9.5 million to purchase and renovate the 41-unit single-room occupancy (SRO) hotel for women in the Downtown Eastside. The Rainier Hotel was one of six SRO hotels purchased in February 2008 to protect and expand affordable housing. To date, the Province has acquired 23 SRO hotels with 1,350 units in Vancouver. Renovations are currently underway at 11 SRO hotels. In total, the Province has acquired 45 buildings, providing approximately 2,000 units across the province for British Columbians in greatest need.

“The SRO hotels in the Downtown Eastside are a valuable resource that will play a vital role in improving the quality of life of Vancouver’s most vulnerable people,” said Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson. “The opening of the Rainier Hotel not only gives new hope to this community, but also marks a new beginning for both the community and its residents.”

Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) in partnership with PHS Community Services Society will operate a 20-unit treatment program on the second floor to provide alcohol- and drug-free housing for women in transition from detox. The Rainier residential stabilization and treatment program is designed for woman in the sex trade struggling with addiction and mental health issues. Health Canada is providing VCH through the Ministry of Health Services with $5 million in operational funding over four and a half years.

“Working in partnership with the Province, Health Canada and the PHS Community Services Society, we are proud to be a part of the innovation that is the Rainier Hotel,” said Heather Hay, director of addictions, HIV/AIDS, Aboriginal services. “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.”

PHS Community Services Society will manage the other 21 units at the Rainier and provide support services for women living in those units.

“Today I am really excited to see the government demonstrating a very tangible commitment to improving the lives of women living in our community,” said Liz Evans, PHS executive director and founder. “Working in partnership with the federal and provincial governments, as well as Vancouver Coastal Health, we are able to provide these rooms, which offer women the dignity of a place to call home, in addition to relevant outreach health supports.”

The Province has committed to creating more than 4,000 new housing units under the Provincial Homelessness Initiative. The Province’s budget for shelters and affordable housing is $400 million – more than three times what it was in 2001.

‘Breaking the Cycle of Homelessness’ is a website providing a comprehensive and detailed look at provincial programs and services to address homelessness. Visit www.bchousing.org/breakingthecycle for more information.

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BACKGROUNDER
THE RAINIER HOTEL

The Rainier Hotel, located at 309 Carrall St., in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside (DTES), will provide 41 single-room occupancy (SRO) units with integrated support services for women who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.

The building is a three-storey, brick and wooden structure built in the 1920s. The Rainier consists of a 20-unit treatment program for women in recovery on the second floor and 21 self-contained units with fridges and a communal cooking facility for tenants on the third floor. The main floor is a large commercial space that will be renovated for future commercial leasing opportunities.

PHS Community Services Society will operate 21 self-contained units and provide support services. PHS in partnership with Vancouver Coastal Health will operate 20 units on the second floor to provide alcohol- and drug-free housing for women in transition from detox. The focus of the 20 beds will be for former sex-trade workers who are self-referred or referred through their detox program. Women will access the Rainier after completing detox treatment, and remain in the program to stabilize their health and they establish a foundation for ongoing recovery.

Partners and Funding

  • The Province provided $9.5 million, the total capital cost for the purchase and renovation; 
  • Health Canada is providing $5 million to Vancouver Coastal Health through the Ministry of Health Services over four and a half years for operational funding; and 
  • Vancouver Coastal Health is providing ongoing operational funding.

PHS Community Services Society (PHS)

PHS, a non-profit association created in 1993, manages buildings that provide social housing and support services, focusing on people with chronic substance abuse issues or dual diagnosis. The society helps promote, develop and maintain supportive affordable housing for adult individuals who are hard to house and at risk of homelessness due to their physical and/or mental health, behaviour, substance dependencies, and forensic history.

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Media Contacts:
Rachel Nelken
BC Housing
778 452-2719
604 505-8428 (cell)

Trudi Beutel
Vancouver Coastal Health
604 708-5282
604 812-1847 (cell)

Kevin Quinlan
Office of the Mayor
604 873-7232
778 995-2264 (cell)

Catherine Atyeo
Health Canada
604 666-8396
catherine_atyeo@hc-sc.gc.ca

Mark Townsend
Executive Director
PHS Community Services Society
604 720-3050 (cell)

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