B.C.'s first supportive housing project for trans and gender diverse people launches in Vancouver

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      A new civic housing project in Vancouver will prioritize the needs of trans and gender diverse tenants, and will be the first of its kind in British Columbia.

      The City of Vancouver announced today (February 18) that a 24-room single-room occupancy hotel (SRO) for trans, gender diverse, and two-spirit people will begin accepting residents.

      The city used revenue generated from the Empty Homes Tax to purchase Ross-Aoki House, located at 313 Alexander Street, for $3.8 million in July 2019, and appointed Atira Women’s Resource Society to operate the building, which is located in the Downtown Eastside and the former Japantown area.

      Ross House was a former Japanese rooming house built for Yonekichi Aoki, and reportedly dates back to 1906, first appearing in city directories in 1907.

      Retired architect Charles Haynes purchased and renovated the building in 2006 as a tribute to his 19-year-old son Ross who died of a drug overdose in 2000.

      Homelessness Services and Affordable Housing Programs managing director Celine Mauboules explained that the project is designed to provide residences for tenants from trans and queer communities who are facing challenges or barriers in finding safe, adequate, and culturally appropriate housing, and who are overrepresented among homeless populations.

      In a news release, Dr. Karina Zeidler, who serves trans and gender diverse people, explained how supportive housing projects like these can help to prevent negative impacts upon health.

      “Trans people face systemic discrimination and oppression, leading to increased rates of poverty and homelessness,” Zeidler stated. “Access to stable housing improves health outcomes and reduces barriers for those seeking gender-affirming medical and surgical interventions.”

      The city and Atira are also exploring how housing and service providers can meet the needs of members of these communities.

      Anyone interested in applying to live at the property can send an email to Atira.

      You can follow Craig Takeuchi on Twitter at @cinecraig or on Facebook.