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Second HEAT shelter now closed

August 5th, 2009 · 13 Comments

This just out from city hall, where apparently some poor wretch is still employed to put out news releases while everyone else is on holiday.

Howe Street shelter closes two days early

The Howe Street shelter has closed two days ahead of schedule thanks to the availability and acceptance of alternate housing by shelter residents, Vancouver Deputy Mayor Geoff Meggs announced today.

“Over the past two days, staff from the City of Vancouver, BC Housing and RainCity Housing and Support Society worked closely with shelter residents to find suitable accommodations in other locations,” Meggs said. “The completion of renovation projects at several provincially owned single-room occupancy hotels has created new housing opportunities for shelter residents while the work to make Dunsmuir House ready for occupancy takes place.”

Last week the Province announced it would close the Howe Street shelter on August 7. The shelter was activated in December 2008 to provide Vancouver’s homeless citizens with shelter during the extremely cold winter.

The Province is leasing the 166-unit Dunsmuir House, at the corner of Richards and Dunsmuir, to provide a significantly higher number of more stable and affordable housing units. The City of Vancouver will provide $500,000 for renovations to the building before it opens to residents in September.

“Thanks to the tremendous efforts of BC Housing, and RainCity Housing and Support Society, we are very pleased that about 35 shelter users accepted alternate housing arrangements and are now settling into those locations,” Meggs said.  “Several remaining shelter users opted to make their own arrangements.

“The shelter was not permitted to accept new users so given the successful identification and acceptance of housing options for the majority of existing shelter users, the closure of the Howe Street shelter was timely.”

The shelter closed at 10 a.m. this morning.

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  • Mike Clarke

    And that would be different from the poor wretches like you and I who are also working? 🙂

    Hey Frances…I’ve added you!

    nw/city/ctv/peak mikey

  • Frances Bula

    But we’re not real people …. we’re journalists!!

    Ok, I’m going to take a look at where I’ve been added. How exciting.

  • Not Running for Mayor

    Hmm wonder why there is no mention that this building is owned by Holborn, the same Holborn which will most likely not be meeting it’s time-line commitments at Little Mountain.
    The rate seems pretty good, almost too good. There were rumours that the Eldorado site would be used a couple of months back when it too was a Holborn site.

  • Mary

    NRFM is on to the story here: the Holburn connection. This is meant to deflect attention from the fact that they aren’t moving ahead with developing the Little Mtn site after evicting all those low income families and seniors. How is it going to look during the Olympics when we have homeless, mentally ill people living on our streets when we had government housing that we closed on the promise of using the “profit” from developing the land to build more housing? Whose profit? Where is the promised housing? Why are we actually worse off now thatn we were before?

  • Frances Bula

    Well, I think it’s a bit much for a city update bulletin to give the provenance of various pieces of property.

    Those of you who saw my Globe story on the announcement about the shelter closing will have seen that I noted Dunsmuir House was a Holborn (note spelling for future posts) property and that Holborn is also supposed to be developing Little Mountain. I also had Coleman saying that his BC Housing staff pressed Holborn to give a good rate. He also told me that he thinks they agreed to because they were very aware of the business relationship they have with BC Housing on the Little Mountain property.

  • Not Running for Mayor

    Mary,
    Just wanted to clarify something. Holborn isn’t the one evicting the tenants at Little Mountain, that would be BC Housing. It was a condition of the sale that the site be turned over empty to Holborn (Can’t blame the developer for wanting that condition). The issue is normally this far along the developer would already be deep into the delvelopment permit process and they have not even begun that process. I have no idea what they are waiting for, they should have started the process months ago even if they don’t intend to build right away it’s good to have them in place so that when they do decide to go they could start immediately.

    Anyways Kudos to those involved that got the current rate at Dunsmuir House.

  • When the City and Province announced that the HEAT shelter was being closed in favour of this new site, it was stated that the monthly costs would be in the order of $570 a month, rather than…are you ready (from a news broadcast)…compared to the HEAT shelters that cost approximately $2,000 per person per month.

    I previously reported that the shelters appeared to be costing over $1,000 a month…but this is absolutely astounding to me.

    It begs the question how much the other three shelters (which we don’t hear too much about) are costing per month.

    I don’t know about you, but I find it preposterous that we are paying $1,000 to $2,000 per person per month to keep a homeless person in a shelter!

  • A. G. Tsakumis

    Happy to oblige Michael…

    The Station Street shelter is costing (please remain seated) $25 million for 80 units! That’s $300,000 per unit, at a per square foot basis of $920.00!!!

    I know developers in Yaletown that are building or completing for significantly less.

    And know that the City was “pushing for an earlier closure” according to one of my sources in the Ministry, because they did not want too many media covering the closure for the six o’clock news on the day for the scheduled door closing.

    Pathetic, all the way around.

    Many of these people being housed need drug treatment and mental health treatment BEFORE someone gives them cover within which to smoke crack or hallucinate.

    Shame on all levels of govt for not taking the less expensive, but permanent route, of knocking off all the povertarians feeding off the sick; killing all the NAOMI trials and Insite and not reopening Riverview and buidling two of three Jellinek Clinics (Google them) in this province.

  • not running for mayor

    Frances you seem to have a glitch I had posted a follow up to Mary which would’ve been post 6 and it showed up on my end although the counter for the comments remained at 5, now even the post is gone. Not sure if it’s gone or just somewhere in holding.

    $920psf is pretty steep for contruction costs. Heck if you really want to be shocked see the numbers for the renos to the Pennyslvian hotel (sp). I’m sure they will argue that building small units is more expensive (more kitchens/bathrooms per sf) and that they have to be of the most durable materials due to abuse and they have a point, but not nearly of this magnitude.

  • Frances Bula

    Sorry, Not Running – Don’t know why that happened but it’s up now

  • Frances Bula

    One more addition. Alex has posted that the Station Street site is costing $25 million and 920 per square foot in construction costs.

    As far as I know that’s not accurate. According to the website http://www.bchousing.org/news/news_releases/2009/07/28/5590_0907280909-977?pageNumber=2 Station St is costing $16.7m to build, and the city’s chipping in $4.9m in land and commercial unit subsidy. (That would mean the city is taking back the commercial units to lease.) As it’s a 41,000 sq ft building, that’s $408 per sq ft to build, or $528 if you include the land – which is an enormous distance from $920 per sq ft. Since it’s a mixed-use building, it’s hard to break out the residential unit costs from the commercial space, but even if you just assume it is $528 a SF, that works out to $270,000 a unit, plus retail, plus support spaces for staff, plus, I believe, a communal kitchen and several common areas for entertainment or peace and quiet.

  • Stephanie

    I don’t know why anyone’s surprised by the costs of the shelters. It’s well known that starving preventative services (income assistance, permament housing, health care,) creates wildly expensive costs down the road (shelters, emergency rooms, prisons). What I cannot wrap my head around is why governments routinely get away with portraying themselves as “fiscally responsible: when their budget priorities are so wasteful.

    Funny, too, how people will tut about the costs of the shelters, but they’ll pay up as long as poor people have to sleep on mats. Propose less costly, long-term housing solutions, and watch the complaints of “cadillac services” erupt.

    Our priorities are shot.

  • A. G. Tsakumis

    Sorry to be the bearer of bad news. New cost Frances: $25M, plus, plus. Wait for it…