Province buys six hotels to expand and protect housing


February 14, 2008

VANCOUVER – The Province is purchasing another six single room occupancy (SRO) hotels with 330 units in Vancouver to reduce homelessness and help protect affordable housing stock for those most in need, Premier Gordon Campbell announced today.

“This is the latest in a series of investments we are making to provide new hope and opportunities for people through increased affordable housing options in Vancouver,” said Campbell. “The acquisition of these buildings means a brighter future for people who will be able to have housing with support services to stabilize their lives and regain their independence.”

The purchase of the six buildings, all current or former SRO hotels in the Downtown Eastside, means the Province has now bought 16 SRO hotels with 925 rooms in Vancouver over the past year. Three of the purchases announced today are vacant buildings (Pender, Marr and Rainier), meaning these 115 units will be new affordable housing units added to the current supply.

At the time of the previous SRO purchases last April, the Province also committed to create 287 supportive housing units on three city-owned sites. In December 2007, Vancouver City Council approved an agreement between the Province and the city for the expedited development of up to 1,200 new social and supportive housing units on another 12 city-owned sites.

“With today’s announcement, we have committed to more than 2,400 new provincially subsidized units in Vancouver since last April,” said Minister responsible for Housing Rich Coleman. “Through our provincial housing strategy we are making progress in addressing homelessness in Vancouver, and we will continue to move aggressively to provide more supportive housing.”

“The purchase of these units means that 330 more people will have support services integrated into their homes,” said Claude Richmond, Minister of Employment and Income Assistance. “Programs that bring stability, and connect people to health, social and employment services will become part of these buildings and part of their residents’ lives.”

The total purchase price for the six buildings is $23.7 million. With the purchase of the buildings, the Province will begin further assessments to determine the physical condition of each building and develop renovation plans.

“The renovation and provision of support services to tenants for these SROs is another welcome step in addressing the housing and health pressures in the Downtown Eastside,” said Vancouver Police chief constable Jim Chu. “The support services are crucial elements to make sure tenants have the proper resources to improve their lives.”

Over the next couple of months, the Province will select non-profit societies to manage and operate the buildings in the long term and provide support services to residents. In the interim, a property management firm will be retained to oversee the day-to-day operations and maintenance needs.

These six buildings were 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.

The Province’s 2007/08 budget for shelters and affordable housing is $360 million, triple what it was in 2001. Copies of the housing strategy can be downloaded from www.housing.gov.bc.ca.


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BACKGROUNDER

The following buildings have been purchased by the Province to reduce homelessness and protect affordable housing options in Vancouver.

Building

Address

Units

Asking Price

Purchase Price

Gastown Hotel

110 Water St.

97

$6.8 million

$5.2 million

Shaldon Hotel

52-60 E. Hastings St.

55

$4.8 million

$3.1 million

Arco Hotel

81-83 W. Pender St.

63

$4.7 million

$3.6 million

Pender Hotel

31 W. Pender St.

40

$3.3 million

$2.6 million

Marr Hotel

401 Powell St.

29

$2.3 million

$2.3 million

Rainier Hotel

307-315 Carrall St.

46

$6.9 million

$6.9 million

Total:

330 Units

$28.8 million

$23.7 million

Previous Purchases:
The following Single Room Occupancy (SRO) hotels were purchased by the Province in Vancouver in April 2007:

Building

Address

Number of Units

Marble Arch Hotel

518 Richards St.

145

St. Helens Hotel

1161/63 Granville St.

98

Carl Rooms

355 Princess St.

47

The Rice Block

404 Hawks St.

43

Molson's Bank Building

166 E. Hastings St.

45

The Park Hotel Apartments

429/433 W. Pender St.

56

Walton Hotel

261-265 E. Hastings St.

51

Orange Hall

329-341 Gore Ave.

27

Orwell Hotel

465 E. Hastings

55

Savoy Hotel

258-260 E. Hastings St.

28

Total:

595 units



The following buildings have also been purchased by the Province in the past year to preserve existing affordable housing:

Community

Address

Number of Units

Burnaby

204 Alpha Avenue

18*

Burnaby

205 Beta Avenue

20*

Kamloops

506 St. Paul Street

28

New Westminster

740 Carnarvon Street

59

Victoria

1134 Queens Avenue

28

Victoria

1172 Yates Street

20

Victoria

715-717 Pandora Street

28

Total:

201 units


*To be maintained as affordable family housing

Total number of housing units purchased (all three tables): 1,126 units


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Media contact:
Dale Steeves
Communications Director
Office of the Premier
250 387-6605

Susan Thom
BC Housing
604 230-1301

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