Owner of American Hotel refutes Downtown Eastside rent concerns

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      One of the new owners of the American Hotel has refuted concerns that rents will rise as high as $775 a month after the single-room-accommodation building is renovated.

      “I guarantee you they won’t be $775,” Steven Lippman, partner of 928 Main Holdings Ltd., named after the address of the site, told the Straight by phone today (September 21). “That’s very wishful thinking.”

      At its planning and environment committee meeting on Wednesday (September 22), Vancouver city council will debate whether to issue a single-room-accommodation permit for the 928 Main Street property, which has sat empty since 2006. Its ground-floor pub has been empty since 2004, according to a city staff report.

      928 Main Holdings is looking to add three rooms to the 39 existing rooms, for a total of 42, with bathrooms in 38 of them. The owner will charge rents of $400 a month for 10 years in six of the rooms, reopen the pub, and reinvest in the building, according to the staff report, in return for issuance of the SRA permit. The permits prevent flipping of properties that could be used for low-income housing in the city.

      “The city is lauding this as a great project,” Downtown Eastside housing activist Wendy Pedersen, researcher and organizer for the Carnegie Community Action Project, said by phone. “The city worked really hard to negotiate a deal with them so that six rooms would be rented at $400 a month out of 42.”

      Pedersen said she had heard the $775 figure being floated around, noting that such a rent would require someone to make $31,000 a year to afford to live there “and not be in core need”.

      Having refuted the $775 claim, Lippman was initially hesitant to speculate on the rental rates.

      “I would say we will be charging between $550 and $650 or $660 a month—something like that,” Lippman said later. “I’m guessing now, but that’s approximately what it’s going to be, I figure.”

      Lippman shot back at criticism that rents will be too high, adding that “Carnegie had five years to buy the place and they didn’t”.

      Pedersen responded to Lippman’s comment by saying, “The city totally should have bought it.”

      She coauthored a Carnegie Community Action Project report, Pushed Out: Escalating Rents in the Downtown Eastside, which was released today.

      Pedersen said she’s calling on the Vision Vancouver-dominated city council to purchase five properties per year in the Downtown Eastside—not hotels—for social housing.




      Sep 22, 2010 at 10:20am

      Yes, I agree, the city should buy five properties per year in the Downtown Eastside. We definitely need to expand the area in which drug addicts can shoot up, alcoholics can pass out drunk and dealers can peddle their wares. NOT!!!


      Sep 22, 2010 at 2:18pm

      The City should buy the properties, tear them down, and sell the land to developers. The proceeds and development fees should go to social housing built away from the downtown core.

      Paulo Ribeiro

      Sep 24, 2010 at 1:03pm

      We have a homelessness crisis. We will always need some form of social housing for people with addiction problems or people who were homeless for long periods of time. Some of these people may exhibit behaviors that inspire disgust, revolt, pity, sadness, but these are human beings. We need housing for all kinds of people. As far as new social housing for seniors, the disabled and low income families, it would be more appropriate to build new housing outside the DTES. But for those who are addicted, who are attuned to the street scene, the DTES is where they already are. So we should be preserving as much social housing as possible. And keeping it affordable to them. Welfare only pays $375 a month for housing.

      As far as comments like kgv's, while it seems fashionable to some to go online with a fake name and bash the most vulnerable members of society most Canadians know deep down that really just cowardice and idiocy. Studies have shown, again and again, if you don't deal with these people, they will end up costing the system more in the long run. Allowing people to remain homeless is very costly and foolish. It's cheaper to house people, with some health supports, than allowing them to remain homeless, where, when they get sick, their health deteriorates rapidly and something like a simple flu, ends up requiring hospitalization, costing us way more money. (Read the BC governments own 2005 study on homelessness, hospital costs, etc).
      Also remember that a lot of these hard to house individuals had a pretty rough life dating back to childhood, a life where rape, sexual abuse, violence and neglect are commonplace. These are people who largely didn't get help at a time in their life when it could have a made a real difference. Some of them will never kick drugs and will never be employable. That's what happens when you let people fall through the cracks and they fall hard.

      If you have a heart and a brain, it's pretty obvious we need to end homelessness. All the work the city and Province have down in the last few years have greatly improved the city. 10 years ago, there was a lot more public disorder throughout the city. Housing people and getting them medical help, building detox and services, all that stuff is working. We just need to keep doing it.


      Sep 26, 2010 at 7:03pm

      There is a popular myth, a patronizing and parochial notion often perpetuated by poverty service providers: that implies that the poor and addicted and mentally ill want to be ghettoized and marginalized - because it's a form of "community".

      This convenient perspective goes along way to assuaging middle class guilt and white washing the NIMBY sentiment that epitomizes pretty much most of this city. But the fact is the DTES is an oppressive and exploitive environment that feeds despair and misery. Anyone who actually believes that condemning our weakest citizens to this fate is best for them is at best a fool or at worst of highly suspect motives.

      Facts are Facts

      Sep 29, 2010 at 3:02pm

      Yeah the DTES is oppressive and exploitive not because of geography, but because the people there are underserved, historically neglected by the authorities, poor, mentally ill, developmentally challenged, addicted, homeless, inadequately housed, etc. So, if we don't preserve housing there, what do you suggest? We have 10,000 low income people living in the area, as well as 3,000 homeless who frequent it. Where else can we build 13,000 units of social housing in the city? How are going to move 13,000 people out of their neighborhood? It would be very expensive, requiring much more than the modest amount we currently spend on housing. And where do we put these building projects? The best thing would probably be to spread it out to prevent another ghetto from forming. Do you seriously think other neighborhoods in Vancouver will accept it? We are a nimby city. Honestly I have spoken with DTES residents who want to get out, who say they can't kick drugs while it so easily accessible to them. They would love the chance to live in bucolic Point Grey, or Kits, or other neighborhoods not blighted by neglect and epidemic third-world levels of disease as the DTES. But at the same time, they don't feel welcome. Many of these people are scarred for life. I don't think relocation out of the DTES is possible.
      If we say we won't do anything unless we have the perfect solution that defaults back to the status quo.
      I say, let's do something that can be accomplished. Buy those old SRO's. Get some nurses and doctors in there. Reach out to those in need and offer them education and health. Help these people live a little healthier. Help them get education, maybe finish high school. Make sure these people have services they need. And pour money into detox so there's no waiting lists. Fund the hell out of recovery programs and make them longer cause there's no way a hardcore entrenched addict can turn their life around in 10 days.
      And most of all, we have to stop the things happening that get people into that situation in the first place. We have to look at the level of education, development and opportunities available to first nations people, who are disproportionately marginalized. We have to put more social programs in place to help marginalized people: kids are raped, abused and neglected need our ongoing help. We need to give the poor, and other children at risk, the opportunities to engage in meaningful and healthy developmental activities such as education, arts, sports. We need psychiatric care and a real mental illness strategy for the Province. There's a whole complex mess of issues that were ignored for a long, long time which created this problem in the first place. We need to look at those underlying issues. We need to put much much higher levels of resources into preventing these problems in the first place.


      Oct 3, 2010 at 2:21pm

      You got to be kidding me.

      I totally agree with "RealityCheck" above. The 900 block of main already has 3 SRO's, and the newly developed one almost complete. That is a high concentration already in this block. You need to mix up the area more with other developments or you are going to infest problems in the area. I am a concerned tax payer in this area and live in the condo block right besides the American Hotel (at the Left Bank) and we are hoping the area gets cleaned up.

      Come on Gregor Robertson - the American Hotel needs to be torn down and not be a SRO. Sell it, rezone it and move the SRO to another area to mix with other communities.

      Also build SRO's that are livable too - I thought that is what you are trying to do with the four new SRO's being built now (2 on Pender, one on 1rst, and the 900 block main)?

      Don't let the American Hotel happen. Build better SRO's than patchwork on top of a torn down, Pharoah ant infested, rat infested, & mold infested property - that is what the American Hotel is!

      I love to see you, Gregor Robertson walk in the American Hotel and just take a big breath of mold - really, you are going to give them the ok to make that into a SRO? I can smell the spores when I walk my dog outside. Great, now the homeless will have health problems related to spores, good on the city doing doing more harm that will cost us even more.

      What happened to the pillar approach? (Strategic mixing of communities) Forgotten I think. Putting 4+ SRO's in one block is asking for trouble.

      I want my refund for paying taxes...where do I fill out the form?

      Seth Mak

      Jan 11, 2011 at 3:49am

      I used to go to the Old American before it was closed down. I saw a ton of awesome shows there. I hope when they reopen the hotel that they reopen the pub and get Wendy Thirteen to manage it. That would effectively restore the justice that was denied across the street at the Fauxbalt. I would love to live in one of the rooms with a bathroom whether it cost $400, $450 or $500. My own bathroom is worth the extra rent. I currently live in a studio with a kitchen and bathroom and I love it. I have to move this month so it would be nice to get in there if only it were to open in February. I want to know how to get in on the ground floor on that deal. sethm395@yahoo.co.uk if anyone can get me the info!

      Chris Ross

      Mar 8, 2012 at 7:50pm

      They are $775/month. I know someone who was in there briefly (paying $750/month for a small bachelor) but left because of the noise from the bar. He said it was not worth the price.

      Chris Brown

      Dec 1, 2012 at 4:17pm

      Well its now 2012 and I live in the building. My rent is 675 for one of the smaller units, I was shown a large unit the rent is currenty 750



      Dec 3, 2012 at 7:37pm

      I have to agree with Peterrr. A lot of people around here think it is important to help addicts remain addicts because supposedly that is what addicts want. Ha! If you think people want to remain addicts, then you have never been an addict. Encouraging addiction by giving out free needles might help your conscience, but it does NOTHING to solve the problem. What addicts want is real help and self dignity, but when you constantly tell them that they are weak and can't overcome their problems, so we'll help you in your addiction, then you are nothing but a cold, heartless enabler. You help people overcome their addictions by helping them to become stronger and self sufficent, not by helping them to wallow in their misery. Crazy idea I know, but obviously what has been tried in the past isn't working.