The city’s housing director came to council with a late report yesterday on a plan for interim housing — i.e. housing for the 500 or so people now in the emergency shelters the city set up in December and January that will give them a place to stay once the shelters shut down in June while waiting for more permanent housing (i.e. provincial government units) to become available in 2011 and thereafter.
I had heard previously that the city was only considering pre-fab housing for about 90 on a city lot, because — believe it or not — it’s relatively expensive for temporary housing. But now they’re looking at 190 units that would be placed on the sites of the old Drake Hotel on Powell and the old Old Continental Hotel on Granville. As well, the city and province are talking to try to find a building with another 100-something beds, and there’s a recommendation to lease Downtown Eastside hotels to accommodate another 200. All of this would take $13 million from the city and $12 million from private partners for capital costs, $27.5 million from the province for operating costs. Stay tuned on that one.
One question that keeps popping up into my head as I’ve been reporting on all this is: What about the 700 people who stay every night in Vancouver’s other shelters? As those who follow this issue know, the 500 new shelter beds got many people off the street who had been unwilling to use the standard ones — either because they had pets or shopping carts or drug problems or other problems with abiding by the rules in the standard shelters. But those standard shelters still house a lot of people every night — people who also don’t have any permanent housing.