Vancouver council set to vote on grant for modular housing in Downtown Eastside

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      Vancouver city council is set to vote on a grant to support the construction of a 12-unit housing development in the Downtown Eastside made from former shipping containers.

      A report going before city council on Tuesday (April 17) recommends that a grant of up to $92,000 be approved toward the construction of the self-contained units at Jackson Avenue and Alexander Street.

      The development will consist of two, three-storey multiple dwelling buildings constructed from modified shipping containers. Half of the 12 self-contained units will house marginalized women, in connection with Atira Women’s Resource Society’s adjacent Imouto House program.

      Janice Abbott, the CEO of Atira, said the six units will house elder women from the community as part of an “inter-generation” component of the supportive housing project.

      “We’ll be looking for elder women tenants who are from community who are stable, and who are interested in mentoring, working with the young women at Imouto,” Abbott told the Straight by phone.

      Atira’s Imouto House program is designed for young women in the Downtown Eastside who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. The transitional housing program currently has about 13 tenants, said Abbott.

      The program drew opposition when it was initially proposed from some community members and organizations that argued young, vulnerable women should be housed outside the Downtown Eastside.

      Abbott noted the program was intended for women who are already living in the low-income community. She added the program has been “far more successful” than anticipated.

      “In the eight months since it’s been open, we’ve had two young women reunite with their families and go home to their home communities—women who had been down in the Downtown Eastside both of them for more than a year,” she said.

      Half of the 12 units in the new modular housing complex will be rented out at the shelter component of welfare, while the other half will be rented at just under market rent, likely to people that work in the community, according to Abbott.

      Vision Vancouver councillor Kerry Jang said while the building will be constructed from shipping containers, the units will be like regular suites.

      “They’ve used the shells and you know reconfigured them, moved them around a bit, to create actual units, and it looks very funky too,” he said.

      “It’s not a shipping container, it’s just walls that have been reconfigured, so it’s liveable—and that was a real key for us to support this…it’s got to feel like a home.”

      The development application for the 12-unit building was approved by the city’s development permit board on January 23, 2012.

      Mayor Gregor Robertson expressed his support for the project in a news release today (April 12).

      “This new housing project will provide safe, supportive housing that is desperately needed for some of our most marginalized women in Vancouver,” he said in the release. “This is the kind of creative housing partnership we need in Vancouver, and I’m hopeful that City Council will unanimously support it next week.”

      Depending on final approvals on the project, Abbott expects the modular housing units to be available by the summer.



      SPY vs SPY

      Apr 12, 2012 at 8:43pm

      So whats next, Metal Culverts, Wooden Shipping Crates, Construction Cardboard Cement Forming Tubes, Giant Tupper Ware Containers?

      People need to live in descent homes and just when did Canada become such an Impoverished Nation that we cannot afford to build a home for everyone?

      Lordy Sweet Jesus, this is the Institutionalization and Perpetuation of Poverty!


      Apr 13, 2012 at 11:40am

      i think it's a great idea to use recycled materials to develop smaller, eco-density housing. we have this North American super entitled "Big Gulp" mentality here, and the crazy notion that every family should have a two-storey fully detached house with front and back yards. and that every individual needs 1,000 square feet, their very own kitchen, private bath, and in-suite laundry. and a TV and a phone and a computer and a playstation and a car and a set of pots and pans and plates and mugs for every person alive. that's what we think the minimum standard of healthy living is.

      but this is just massive over-consumption people, and it's draining the world of space and natural resources. of course we're only going to wind up with major suburban sprawl and hi-rises that dwarf the mountains with an appetite like that.

      just visit Europe or Asia to see that people live much more efficiently in much smaller accommodations. we don't have all this NEED that we have been marketed to believe we do. when my parents were younger, people lived several to a room, even several to a bed.

      people are supposed to live communally, cooperatively. all this personal space just breeds a culture of separation and an "each person for themselves" mentality. i say let's live smaller, and closer together. it's good for our planet, good for our pocket books, and good for our collective human spirit.

      I don't like eating fish heads

      Apr 13, 2012 at 11:55am

      and living in a boxcar is no place to accomodate a home. Small is okay, but make it from an already built home not a boxcar. I would worry about the materials that where used it wasn't like they where building these boxcars for people, well maybe in Asia and Germany. Human Rights do a collective spirit good and a boxcar is no place to call home. It would have been less expensive to convert an older home and break it down to single units. People have been recycling their homes from the get go as renovate, renovate hits home where Home Depo is concerned.

      I don't like eating fish heads

      Apr 13, 2012 at 12:19pm

      Railroads thrive on redundancy to maximize efficiency which was the reason they loved the boxcar so much. For many years BCs low income new home, the boxcar has carried everything from automobiles and paper to car parts and fresh produce, literally almost anything that would practically fit into the car’s empty, open spaces. Bet you can't say that about your four walls.


      Apr 13, 2012 at 2:20pm

      People who critisize this type of housing should go on line & look at some of the amazing homes which have been built with shipping containers. In Europe they have an entire apartment building made from them. The homes are used for remote areas, vacation homes, just great homes. Modern design can work wonders with these small space homes. You should look on line at Tiny Homes. These homes are well under 300 sq ft. & have everything you need. We need to stop looking at mega projects to house people. Frequently using small homes on infill areas can make a world of differance. In Seattle there is an entire community of Tiny Houses on a couple of lots. Most of these homes can be built for under $40K.

      the "laneway" homes which they started to build in Vancouver are expensive & large. The container homes & Tiny Homes make much more sense.

      Once they are given windows, a door, with bathroom & kitchen they look wonderful. There is a great savings in using these as the outer conponent for housing.


      Apr 13, 2012 at 5:30pm

      *How The Government Works*

      Bureaucrat 1: What should we do with these poor old women?

      Bureaucrat 2: I wish we could just stuff them in shipping containers.

      Bureaucrat 1: Ha! You might be on to something there.

      Bureaucrat 2: Oh come on, I was just joking, there's no way we could get away with that!

      Bureaucrat 1: No seriously, we'll call it green, let's fucking do this bro. But first we must golf.

      Bureaucrat 3: We're out of cocaine again.

      Point of Order

      Apr 13, 2012 at 5:33pm

      Everyone seems to think that there is one model of housing that's correct for everyone. If you ask people to define "Home" you get a completely different answer than if you ask them to define "House". I have often noticed that we get the concepts mixed up. "Homeless" people may not have homes, but more importantly in the immediate is the need for Housing. Given the choice between a cardboard box or a Warm, Dry, Small, Clean, Safe etc.. environment were one can sleep, eat and clean oneself... which would you pick? Personally, given that choice I'd live in the Shipping container thanks. Not everyone needs, wants or could live in a west side mansion. In fact, I suspect given that they may have spent enough time on the street that their sense of self-worth has been so beaten down, many homeless would feel uncomfortable in a westside mansion, but would understand the venacular of the Shipping container and thus would feel more comfortable.

      this isn't about a westside manson

      Apr 13, 2012 at 7:20pm

      This is spending good money after bad, sure if there is no place to sleep and there are empty crates or riding the cars but these are not homes but merely a shelter from the elements. BC is not so desperate and there is plenty of lumber. It will take a great deal more money to turn them into homes so why not start with homes. There is plenty of whole logs in BC going for bottom line prices to the China why not here?

      it is doable

      Apr 13, 2012 at 7:49pm

      Anyway, totally doable, but there are practical issues that are hard to deal with cheaply or easily. The big ones are heat and cold being a shipping container is a metal box that heats up like an oven in the sun, and gets nice and chilly in the cold. There is no room on the inside for insulation without making the boxcar even smaller so it really makes you wonder why go that route. People used boxcars because they had no place to live during war time but row houses where built so they could move on. I could understand the homeless taking shelter but spending money to convert boxcars you would be better off seeing if you could purchase Canada's submarines, it isn't like they are being used anyway and then you could pack them in like sardines.

      Save Vancouver

      Apr 14, 2012 at 4:55pm

      I hear they make some marvelous homes in Africa out of mud and cowshit. Maybe Mayor Robertson should look into that too.