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Province buying three more Vancouver properties to house people experiencing homelessness

Among them the century-old Patricia Hotel near Hastings and Main
A room inside the Patricia Hotel on East Hastings Street in Vancouver. The Province of B.C. has purchased the property to convert units into housing for people experiencing homelessness, including those sleeping at Strathcona Park

The Province of British Columbia says its purchase of three additional properties will be key in having enough spaces for all unhoused people currently sleeping outside at Vancouver's Strathcona Park.

The Attorney General and Ministry Responsible for Housing announced Thursday, April 1, the purchase of the following properties: 

  • 403 E. Hastings St., Patricia Hotel – 195 units
  • 956 Main St. – 22 units
  • 1012 Main St. – 32 units

The government is spending $75.5 million on the purchases: $63.8 million for the Patricia Hotel and parking lot; $4.9 million for the hotel at 956 Main St.; and $6.8 million for the hotel at 1012 Main St.

"These purchases are part of the Province’s ongoing actions to provide housing for people experiencing or at risk of homelessness and build on the nearly 1,000 supportive homes that have opened in Vancouver over the last three years," notes a media release from the ministry.

The Patricia Hotel and the two Main Street properties join the other properties in Vancouver recently acquired to provide living quarters for the unhoused. 

The Ramada Hotel at 435 W. Pender St. will provide 80 permanent supportive homes for people experiencing homelessness, including those living at Strathcona Park, while properties at 1025 Granville St. and 103 E. Hastings St. were being leased by the Province to provide 108 spaces for people who have needed a safe place to self-isolate during the pandemic. 

Together, the six buildings mean 340 permanent supportive homes and indoor spaces for people experiencing homelessness in the city.

How soon will rooms be available?

The Patricia Hotel will have immediate openings. 100 permanent homes with wraparound supports for people experiencing homelessness will be available by the end of the month, and "BC Housing will work with current long-term tenants to ensure they have appropriate accommodation as the building transitions to supportive housing," assures the ministry.

Prior to the purchase, the Patricia Hotel was a long-standing family-operated budget hotel. 

Daryl Nelson, whose family has owned the now 108-year-old Patricia Hotel for more than 20 years, took his frustrations to the Vancouver Police Board in July 2019 in an effort to get some action on the escalating mayhem in the neighbourhood at the time.

In the past, Nelson said, service, cleanliness and pricing could overcome the negatives of the neighbourhood, which is part of Strathcona. That was no longer the case, he said in 2019, when many unhoused people were living in tents in nearby Oppenheimer Park and crime in the neighbourhood had seen an uptick. Unfortunately for the Patricia Hotel, the COVID-19 pandemic meant a lack of tourists and increasing woes in the neighbourhood.

The properties on Main Street currently have a total of 14 vacant units that will house people who are ready to leave shelters, opening those shelter spaces for people living outside. Existing tenants will not be displaced. BC Housing is reaching out to non-profit housing providers to explore additional support services for these buildings.

Having these six properties "will help us reach our target of opening up enough dignified inside spaces for everyone currently living outdoors at Strathcona Park by the end of April,” said David Eby, Attorney General and Minister Responsible for Housing. “Street homelessness and encampments aren’t working for anyone in Vancouver – not for people who have been living outside over the winter in unsafe conditions without access to supports, and not for their neighbours who live nearby.”

With files from Mike Howell