The Balmoral Hotel was in the news a lot this past year after the Downtown Eastside building was declared unsafe and dozens of tenants were forced to move out on short notice.
The headlines put a spotlight on the deplorable conditions that low-income tenants endured inside the Balmoral. But before too long, the hotel was left vacant and the newspapers moved on to other topics. There however remain hundreds of Downtown Eastside residents who today still live in crumbling single-room occupancy (SRO) hotels that are just like the Balmoral.
Directly across the street is the Regent Hotel. It’s owned by the same family, the Sahotas, holds roughly the same number of tenants, and has fallen into a similar state of disrepair.
Sansitny Ruth, a local photographer, recently contacted the Straight with a series of images he captured inside the Regent.
“I'm offering a glimpse into the lives of those in our community who many choose not to associate with,” Ruth said. “I'll leave the take away to the viewer. To quote William Blake ‘As a man is, so he sees’.”
On Ruth’s website, which showcases a number of photojournalism projects, he provides some additional details on the images from the Regent.
"SROs house Vancouver's most vulnerable populations, which include those on welfare and those who commonly struggle with addictions, illness, and/or other mental disabilities,” it reads.
“This account was taken during the management of Ludvik Skalicky, a Downtown Eastside local and activist, attempting to repair this residence where inhabitants could at least maintain their rights and freedoms,” it continues. “These photographs reflect the ongoing struggle for humane living conditions for those who are left in the shadows of a ‘world-class city’.”More