Province purchases Howard Johnson Hotel and Buchan Hotel in Vancouver for affordable housing

THE Province, through BC Housing, has purchased the 110-room Howard Johnson Hotel at 1176 Granville Street as part of a long-term plan to build a mix of affordable homes for people in Vancouver.

“Housing is the foundation of people’s lives and of healthy, safe communities,” said Selina Robinson, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. “We’re taking action to build more affordable rental homes in Vancouver, as we continue to provide supportive housing and health care to people right now. There’s a real need for housing for people with different incomes, from young families to seniors, and we’ll be engaging with the community on how we can use this site to deliver urgently needed homes.”

In the interim, the Howard Johnson site will operate as temporary supportive housing while long-term plans are developed. BC Housing will connect with partners and the community to begin the conversation about how the site and the adjacent parking lot can be used to tackle the housing crisis and build a mix of homes for people in Vancouver.

“The purchase of these hotels holds great short- and long-term potential for providing much-needed safe and secure housing that goes beyond four walls and a bed,” said Shane Simpson, Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction. “We are working to develop a model of supportive housing that meets people’s needs with appropriate health, mental health and addictions supports, and creates opportunities to live a safer, healthier life as part of a community.”

The Province has also purchased the 63-room Buchan Hotel at 1906 Haro Street to provide housing with supports for women. The site is empty, and residents will begin moving into the Buchan in July.

Atira Women’s Resource Society will operate the housing at both hotels, which include wraparound supports where people have access to services such as meals, health care, addictions treatment and harm reduction, as well as storage for personal belongings. The sites also have 24/7 staffing to provide security to residents of the building and the surrounding neighbourhood.

“Atira is thrilled to be a partner in this essential housing,” said Janice Abbott, CEO, Atira Group. “Especially at this time, it’s even more important that we all come together to ensure people’s fundamental right to housing is honoured, while at the same time, ensuring that the health and well-being of everyone, including people traditionally marginalized by mainstream society, is paramount.”

BC Housing is setting up a new community dialogue group that will oversee the supportive housing’s integration within the community and will address any concerns raised by people in the neighbourhood.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has put into even-sharper focus our urgent need for housing, especially for our most vulnerable neighbours,” said Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart. “These hotel rooms will provide immediate safety and shelter while we work with the Province and the community to develop the long-term vision. Now, more than ever, we must come together to make sure all our neighbours are safe and supported, and I cannot thank the Government of B.C. enough for its leadership.”

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 more than 780 supportive homes that have been opened in Vancouver in the last two years.

In Vancouver, BC Housing and its partners are also operating various temporary housing options in hotels and shelter facilities to serve vulnerable people in Vancouver during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Province will continue to support people after the COVID-19 pandemic and these homes deliver on that commitment.

Quick Facts:

* The B.C. government provided approximately $55 million to purchase the Howard Johnson hotel and the neighboring development site.

* The B.C. government provided approximately $19.4 million to acquire the Buchan Hotel.

* The Province is working in partnership to build more than 3,500 new affordable homes for people with a range of incomes in Vancouver:
– housing for people with middle incomes: 135 homes

– housing for people with low to moderate incomes, including families, seniors and Indigenous peoples: 2,653 homes

– housing for women and children leaving violence: 73 homes

– housing for people experiencing or at risk of homelessness: 784 homes