NEW: BC Temporary Rental Supplement (BC-TRS) program is now open. For program details and the online application: BC-TRS

Affordable housing, heritage preservation SRO completion legacy


March 24, 2017

VANCOUVER – The construction phase of the Single Room Occupancy (SRO) Renewal Initiative is now complete and all 13 of the renovated single-room-occupant buildings are fully operational.

The 13 buildings, purchased in 2007, provide approximately 855 supportive-housing units for some of the City of Vancouver’s most vulnerable residents, with 11 buildings located in the city’s Downtown Eastside neighbourhood.

The SRO Renewal Initiative will continue to provide homes for individuals who are homeless or at risk, by ensuring safe, affordable, and energy-efficient accommodation. Single rooms are renovated with new furnishings, flooring and paint and shared kitchen and washroom facilities with dependable heat and hot water, are available for residents and staff.     

The Province invested $147 million to renovate the 13 hotels under a public-private partnership including $29.1 million from the Government of Canada through the P3 Canada Fund. Building lifecycle and facilities-maintenance services will also be provided for 15 years.

All of the buildings are historically significant and great care was taken during the renovation process to ensure the heritage character was preserved as upgrades – including seismic and those improving resident safety – were made. The project has been recognized with nine heritage awards to date.

The buildings are now fully occupied and are being run by non-profit societies with agreements to manage them for the next 15 years.

Quotes:

The Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Families, Children and Social Development –

“The Government of Canada is dedicated to providing assessable and safe housing options for all. We are pleased that the funding provided to the SRO Renewal Initiative has been used to provide more than 855 such spaces for individuals who are homeless or at risk of homelessness in B.C.”

Rich Coleman, Minister of Natural Gas Development and Minister Responsible for Housing –

“Providing people with an environment where they can feel safe and welcome makes a major difference in their quality of life. This initiative will help enhance the inclusion of low-income residents in a social, economic and culturally vibrant community.”

Suzanne Anton, MLA for Vancouver-Fraserview

“A safe and clean living environment can be the first step to breaking the cycle of homelessness. The SRO Renewal Initiative will have a dramatic impact on living conditions for many individuals, resulting in significant improvements to their quality of life. Congratulations on this achievement.”  

Sam Sullivan, MLA Vancouver-False Creek –

“The SRO Renewal Initiative represents one of the ways the provincial and federal governments have successfully worked together to provide safe and affordable social housing. It has improved the living conditions of some of Vancouver’s most at-risk citizens and will continue to do so in the future.”

Rupesh Amin, managing partner, Infrastructure Development, Forum Equity

“Forum Equity Partners is very proud to have had the opportunity to partner with BC Housing on this important and transformative community initiative to improve the quality of life in Vancouver’s downtown east-side neighbourhood. Public-private partnerships such as this are an innovative approach to developing community projects.”

Janice Abbott, CEO, Atira Women’s Resource Society –

“The SRO Renewal Initiative has radically improved the quality of the safe and supportive housing available to people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness in Vancouver. It may be impossible for most people to understand the difference it makes to have clean, damage and pest-free housing, with working washrooms, laundry and shared amenity space on site. Atira is thrilled to have been a part of this massive undertaking and to witness firsthand the difference it has made to people’s lives.”

Shayne Williams, executive director, Lookout Emergency Aid Society –

“We are thrilled to see this incredible transformation of the Tamura House, which after 105 years has been given new life. The rejuvenation of the Tamura will help Lookout improve the quality of life for vulnerable people in our community who will now have the chance to again call this space a home.”

Queenie Choo, CEO, S.U.C.C.E.S.S. Society –

“The self-contained units at Orange Hall for people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness that have been newly renovated as a result of the SRO Renewal Initiative are an important step for these tenants towards dignity and respect as well as building self-reliance and fostering resilience against homelessness.”

Marcia Nozick, CEO, Embers –

“The SRO Renewal Initiative hit it out of the park. In addition to providing much needed housing, it provided jobs in its construction to over 1500 local residents who faced barriers to employment. EMBERS was a community partner to the project, providing local labour to the construction companies Darwin and Ameresco. Over the life of the project, we saw hundreds of peoples’ lives transformed through the power of work. The social impact has been enormous and lasting. Hundreds of people, many of whom were homeless, are today gainfully employed and have hope and a brighter future because of the SRO Renewal Initiative partnerships.”

Andy Bond, senior director of Housing and Program Operations, PHS Community Services Society

"The SRO Renewal Initiative has been pivotal in transforming the existing SRO stock into secure and honourable housing at the income assistance shelter rate ($375/month) for those who have been living in the DTES for many years. It is a reflection of the partners’ shared dedication to social inclusion, human rights and social justice.”

Quick Facts:

  • All 13 SRO buildings are more than 100 years old and required extensive structural, plumbing, and electrical renovations to ensure longevity of the buildings.
  • Eleven of the 13 SROs in the Downtown Eastside neighbourhood account for more than 650 units. The other two are adjacent to the Downtown Eastside, in Gastown and Chinatown.
  • Work began in the fall of 2012 and the project delivered the following:
    • Long-term, supportive housing and an improved quality of life for residents living in the nearly 855 supportive housing units in Vancouver.
    • Updated amenities, such as cooking and washroom facilities, dependable heat and hot water availability.
    • Seismic upgrades made in consultation, collaboration and agreement with the City of Vancouver and consultant engineers, greatly improving the safety of the buildings.
    • Restored heritage value and appearance of these century old buildings, making sure these properties continue to provide safe, affordable homes for those in need for many years to come.

Learn More:

  • View a video about the SRO project at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kJVob3a8zTY&feature=youtu.be
  • Public - Private Partnerships (P3s) are a long-term performance-based approach to procuring public infrastructure where the private sector assumes a major share of the risks in terms of financing and construction and ensures effective performance of the infrastructure, from design and planning, to long-term maintenance. For more information, please visit: http://www.p3spectrum.ca
  • Since 2001, the B.C. government has invested $4.9 billion to provide affordable housing for low-income individuals, seniors and families. More than 104,000 B.C. households benefit from provincial social housing programs and services. To find out more, go to: www.bchousing.org

Stay Connected:

Follow BC Housing on Twitter: https://twitter.com/BC_Housing

Media Contacts:
 
Ally Skinner-Reynolds
BC Housing
604 456-8895