New supportive housing projects

supportive housing project

In July 2011, Council adopted the Housing and Homelessness Strategy 2012-2021 as a framework to respond to Council's priority for addressing street homelessness and increasing the variety of affordable housing options within the City.

As a result, the City responded to the City's homeless crisis by developing 14 new supportive housing projects across the city.

These projects have added an additional 1,400 much needed affordable rental units for homeless residents, and those at risk of becoming homeless.

This project is part of an innovative partnership with the Province of BC.

Under the terms of the partnership, the City is providing land, and the Province is funding construction.

Completed buildings are leased at nominal rents to non-profit operators for the next 60 years.

Read about this initiative in-depth

Recent developments with this initiative

These new units have provided homes for those who were homeless or at risk of being homeless, living in single room accommodations (SROs) or in other facilities such as long-term care.

Completed projects Total units Occupancy date
220 Princess Avenue 147 April 2015
111 Princess Avenue 139 November 2014
2465 Fraser Street 103 November 2014
1134 Burrard Street 141 March 2014
1237 Howe Street 110 August 2013
215 West 2nd Avenue 147 May 2013
1601 West 7th Avenue 62 July 2012
188 East 1st Avenue 129 May 2012
3595 West 17th Avenue 51 December 2011
1338 Seymour Street 105 June 2011
337 West Pender Street 96 May 2011
525 Abbott Street 108 May 2011
1005 Station Street 80 December 2010

Policy documents

The City developed an overall supportive housing strategy in 2007, which serves as the framework for this new housing initiative:

Background research

In assembling the proposal for new supportive housing, staff relied on key research documents produced by Vancouver Coastal Health.

Here are some of those documents:

How new supportive housing helps Vancouver

The 1,700 new units of supportive housing this initiative will add to the city inventory will help reduce the number of people living on the street. But our entire city benefits when we care for our most vulnerable citizens.

Studies show that there are many advantages to a strong supportive housing program, including:

  • A 32% decrease in emergency room visits, and a 57% decrease in hospital bed use
  • A reduction in symptoms of mental illness, such as schizophrenia and psychosis
  • Increased residential stability, with people staying in one place longer
  • Increased independence and empowerment

Choosing locations for supportive housing projects

Mental illness and addiction are problems that exist city-wide.

By placing supportive housing projects throughout Vancouver, residents benefit. They will be able to live close to their friends and family, be near their health care and other services, and live in the communities they are already familiar with.

Social housing in Vancouver

Since the mid-1990s, homelessness has been a growing problem across Canada. In Vancouver alone, there are now approximately 1,600 homeless people. 

But the number of affordable single room accomodations (SROs) in the city has been decreasing, due to building age, lack of revenue, a more difficult tenant profile, and competing uses (conversion to tourist hotels and demolition for condominium development). 

At the same time, gaps in the health care and social safety systems continue to contribute to the homeless problem.

To help lessen the pressures caused by a diminishing supply of affordable housing, Council has introduced regulations to control the loss of affordable market rental housing including SROs. 

  • In 2003, Council adopted the Single Room Accommodation (SRA) bylaw, which requires Council approval of a conversion or demolition of any SRA (which includes most of the SROs)
  • In 2007, Council adopted regulations to manage the rate of change in the purpose built (unstratified) market rental stock that require 1-1 replacement of the rental units for redevelopments of more than 5 units

While these regulations help control the loss of affordable rental housing, they are only a temporary solution.