what’s new

Using Google Streetview to show what’s changed, and what can be done!

Today we’ve launched our campaign vancouverstreetview.ca, an interactive site where you can see how homelessness has increased in the Greater Vancouver Area.

The technology allows users to toggle between Google Street View images taken in the last four years and see how the number of people identifying as homeless has increased across Metro Vancouver. The initiative launched this week as modular housing becomes available for those living on the street in one of the campaign’s highlighted areas, 135A Street in Surrey.

The City of Vancouver’s latest homeless count found an increase of 2% since last year, marking a 21% increase in those identifying as homeless since 2014. The most recent stats from Metro Vancouver show a similar story, with a 30% increase in homelessness between 2014 and 2017, as determined during last year’s Metro Vancouver Homeless Count.

“After almost 15 years in this field it’s become clear that the longer we leave people outside, the more ill they become. This makes it more difficult for people to transition back inside, and there’s more trauma they have to work through once they do. We need to act quickly and respectfully stop this from happening to any more of our neighbours,” says Aaron Munro, our Associate Director, explaining the importance of people coming back inside.

Researchers say the actual numbers can be up to three times as high as the 24 hour Vancouver count, due to people staying with relatives, couch surfing or just being really hard to find. This year’s Vancouver count also found that more than half of Vancouver’s homeless population have been homeless for less than a year.

Aaron Munro continues, “The Google Street View images in our campaign, much like the homeless counts, are just snapshots in time of a much larger issue. The campaign images show homelessness in the Greater Vancouver Area is changing our cities, but that there is a solution in providing affordable and social housing, and we need to show our support around it. People who are supported in housing by RainCity have access to supports and live in places that are safer and more secure than remaining homeless.”

We hope our “Vancouver Street View” campaign will get people to contact their local municipality to show their support for social housing in their neighbourhood.

Will you write to your municipality?


3030 Gordon is OPEN!!

All the rumors are true! Thanks to the amazing crew at Ventana Construction, the building was completed on time, which means that this week we were able to begin moving folks from the mat shelter currently set up at the Alliance Church directly into our shelter!

The Tri-Cities News had a tour before we opened and you can read their wonderful article here.

If you want to know more about how to contact the shelter, refer people that are interested in the transitional housing side of the building, or the building’s role as an Extreme Weather Response Shelter in the future, jump over to
our 3030 Gordon page.

Thank you to so many people – the City of Coquitlam, BC Housing, the Tri-Cities Homelessness and Housing Task Group, and most importantly the hundreds of volunteers – that have all stayed on task to ensure this project became a reality! Not an easy feat in this day and age.

Please check back here in the future for more information about the program itself and ways that volunteers can participate in making a difference to the folks accessing the shelter and housing in this brand new building.

Once again – thank you, thank you, thank you, Tri-Cites, for the warm welcome! And all the best of the season to everyone!

3030 Gordon Ave October 2015 Update!


Well, not yet, obviously, but this is the entrance to the building from the inside. Still some work to be done…


The office and main floor.

Here’s where folks will check in with staff, work together on future housing plans, or just talk about the latest Jays game. That last point might sound trivial, but having lighthearted conversations is one of the first steps towards building trust and respect with people who have come inside, and that trust can be built on, leading to more important conversations about concrete and life altering plans.

Three meals a day will be provided to the folks staying at the shelter. Food in one’s belly is highly under rated – it not only makes one healthy, it improves the mood. Ever been ‘hangry’?

Walk this way

Apparently these signs are all the rage in Europe right now, so we had to have them. A kinder, gentler exit sign, don’t you think?

The shelter rooms will all have a stainless steel sink and windows letting in the glorious Tri-City sunshine.

At night these fancy lights take over. The round button-looking thing at the end is a motion sensor that has three output levels, from light up my life, down to nightlight.

Easier access

Here are some early views of a wheelchair accessible suite (they’ll be three) pictured above, and a not-wheelchair accessible suite pictured below. All the transitional housing suites are located on the left or east side of the building and the shelter rooms are on the right.

Too hot for bedbugs

Ever heard of a bedbug sauna? We hadn’t either until the little critters became a problem. Now a larger number of the new buildings being funded by BC Housing have them as part of the build, including this one. All of a person’s belongings are placed in the sauna, the heat is turned up to 64 degrees Celsius, and the items are left there for about 24 hours. We’ve found it really effective at three of our newer buildings.

Back outside

The fence surrounding the east, south and west sides of the property, is almost complete. The siding is, too. As you can see, we’re getting even closer to a finished building and those folks at Ventana are doing an amazing job. In the next update we hope to have pictures of finished rooms and maybe even a finished office.

The FYI on the CAC

The Community Advisory Committee, or CAC, had its first meeting earlier this month. We were able to get all partners and community member types represented. If this is still something you are interested in and you either a) haven’t contacted me – that would be Bill Briscall – or b) emailed and/or called and I didn’t get back to you, please email me (again), at bbriscall@raincityhousing.org and I will respond to discuss next steps. The next CAC meeting will be Wednesday, Nov 4.

Stay tuned!


Are you a superhero?

The theme for Vancouver’s Pride this year is Gender Superheroes and for the first time at RainCity, a specific program (both tenants and staff) put together our Parade entry – our LGBTQ2S* Housing for Youth! The amazing folks living at and involved in this project are inspiring, courageous, strong, and really, really funny; all the ingredients needed for a superhero!

It wasn’t always the case. Hundreds and thousands of people may be cheering them on as they march by, but it was often a single person that made a difference and inspired them, or made a complicated life make sense, maybe for the first time. Mentors can be superheroes in disguise. They might have taken off the cape or tossed the tights, but their experience and wisdom are their super powers, and they will never fade.

We need superheroes!

Does this sound like you? Sharing your lived experience and the not so simple fact that you survived is something worth sharing. The youth living at and involved with our LGBTQ2S* project need to become part of communities where they fell safe and heard. If you think this is something you want to do, read more about our mentorship program.

David is someone who benefited from our program. Read what he had to say.

And Aaron Munro, Team Lead for this project, spoke to CBC TV earlier this week about the need for LGBTQ2S* housing for youth. Watch what he had to say.

It’s taken a while for RainCity Housing to get this project off the ground, and the Vancouver Foundation was the first funder to promise funding and they stuck around until we were able to get the rest – Thank you!

So as you’re marching, or cheering, or celebrating all that’s important to you this Pride, remember the heroes, the superheroes that the youth have become, and the mentors that are helping them get there.

3030 Gordon Ave July 2015 Update!

Hey, it’s been a while. Let’s get to it…

Safety gear required!

After the last 3030 Gordon Working Group meeting, we had a tour – inside and out – of the building. RainCity’s Property Manager George Simpson (with his arm raised) was our host and as you’ll see, the completion of the building is growing by leaps and bounds. And we had to wear the gear: hardhats, high visibility vest, and steel toe gumboots.


Safe from trains

Then we headed to the back of the property, where the south(ish) wall is going up. It’s sort of cool, as it’s a prefab tongue and grove assembly that connects at each post.

Wall behind 3030 Gordon

On the exterior wall of the building facing the train tracks, the cladding has already begun to be applied. It’s a two tone scheme that’s hard to make out in shade.

Cladding on 3030 Gordon

But the sun did make everything a little more beautiful. And really hot in all our safety gear!

Sunny behind 3030 Gordon


Inside and dry(walled)

Once inside we were able to really see the speed of the contractor Ventana’s process. The rooms on the top two floors are already being drywalled in. This room is one of the amenity spaces (one of three) where we’ll be able to bring an additional 30 folks inside during extreme weather.

Amenity drywawlled 3030 Gordon

And here is one of the rooms on the top floor, already painted a serene yellow with the moldings starting to go in.

painted room at 3030 gordon

Will we see you at the CAC?

One of the next steps is to arrange a date for the first CAC (Community Advisory Committee) meeting. If you’ve already emailed us expressing interest, you’ll be getting an email before the end of August with details about the meeting and the role of the CAC. But it’s not too late to let us know you’re interested. Just email Bill Briscall, bbriscall@raincityhousing.org and let him know.

Enjoy the summer sun but don’t get too much of it. And be sure to check out what other great things are happening at RainCity like our newly opened building, the Budzey, or just head over to Facebook.

The DTES just got a little better.

We are so excited to announce that women and families have begun moving into our newest building, the Budzey. Both unique to the Downtown Eastside and to RainCity Housing, the Budzey has 105 units of housing for women (trans* and cis), and 41 units for women led families. Below is a view of the north shore mountains from the rooftop patio of the Budzey.

Why provide housing for women and women with children?

Because of some powerful statistics:

  • Women experience higher rates of poverty and isolation than men (Census 2006);
  • Women account for 56% of Canadians with low incomes;
  • One in five families with children is led by a single woman; and
  • 42% of those families experience housing affordability problems.

What will happen there?

“We want to develop this project using a gender and diversity lens that will allow a healthy, vibrant community to flourish, that will be safe for all.” Amelia Ridgway, Acting associate Director explains. Staff focus on activities that strengthen the community. Some of the provided services will be:

  • Access to childcare and child care related support services;
  • Liaising with community services and partners;
  • A peer based programming within the building;
  • Community kitchen nights for women and family; and
  • A parent resource centre and a youth recreation program.

Why is it called the Budzey Building?

Lorna Budzey was a resident of Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside for many years. She became known to RainCity Housing at their first shelter, Triage, and was one of first people to challenge the organization to be inclusive and welcoming to everyone that we work with. She experienced many travesties throughout her life, but was always vibrant, charismatic and had an amazing sense of humour. Lorna died in the summer of 2000.

Like what’s taking place at the Budzey? Donate directly to that program right now!


3030 Gordon Ave May 2015 Update!

Welcome back! The official event in April went off without a hitch, and we just squeezed in all the speakers before the first train went by. Many guests came to show their support of the project, including all three Mayors from the Tri-Cities. Sean and Bill also presented a delegation to Port Moody Mayor and Council at the end of April, which was well received.

From left to right are: Douglas Horne, MLA for Coquitlam – Burke Mountain; Linda Reimer, MLA for Port Moody – Coquitlam; Mayor of Coquitlam Richard Stewart; Sean Spear, Associate Director at RainCity Housing; the Hon. James Moore, MP for Port Moody – Westwood – Port Coquitlam, and the Chair of RainCity Housing’s Board, Stacey Morrison.

So fast!

The windows are in and the roof is on. This is a big hurdle in a primarily wood structure, as it’s easier (and more pleasant) working in dry environment. You won’t see as much upward structural progress from the outside, but inside the contractors are making it beautiful.

Door to door is done!

Dwayne and Bill finished their visits to the surrounding residents and businesses. Many folks weren’t home, but those that were took time to talk about the new project. Some had concerns, others felt it was greatly needed, but everyone they talked to appreciated having a chance to share their thoughts. We look forward to hearing more from our neighbours and having their valued input on our Community Advisory Committee, or CAC for short.

Still want to get involved?

We have a number of people interested in being on the CAC (you know who you are!), but are always looking for people as members or alternates, as well as folks that want to receive the minutes, but are unable to be at meetings. Just email Bill at bbriscall@raincityhousing.org to let him know what you’re interested in.

Look for the next update over the summer!


It’s now even easier to donate to RainCity!

We’ve just launched our direct donation page and we really like it. Why? Because it’s not only super easy for you to use, but now each donation goes directly into our accounts on the same day! That means the money can make changes for folks faster than ever before. Plus, you’ll get your tax receipt within minutes (maybe even seconds) after you make the donation.

So spread the news! If you’ve never donated to RainCity before, now’s the perfect time. Or tomorrow. Or next month. Or whenever you want – it’s that easy!

3030 Gordon Almost April 2015 Update!

Here! We! Go! Dwayne and Bill continue going door to door and will be finishing up by the middle of April, spending most of that time in PoCo. More folks have signed up for either updates, to receive minutes from the CAC (Community Advisory Committee), or become a member of the CAC. We’re really happy that you’re showing your support and interest in the project this way. Makes us feel welcomed to the community – thank you!

Up, up, up!

The building is now at its full height and it should be completely roofed in by the end of April. Here are some recent pics:

It’s time to get official!

Next Wednesday, April 8 at 10:30am, all levels of government are coming together at 3030 Gordon Avenue in Coquitlam to recognize the amazing progress of the building, and also recognize the community and the political will that made it happen in the first place. It will be a short but sweet affair, with media to boot. And there’ll be doughnuts. Mmmmm – doughnuts!!!

Want to get more involved?

Even if Bill and Dwayne didn’t drop by for a visit with their info, you can still stay in touch by emailing Bill at bbriscall@raincityhousing.org and letting him know how you’d like to receive info or updates.

Look for the next update in May!

3030 Gordon Ave February 2015 Update!

Hello and welcome to our second 3030 Gordon Ave update. We’ve been busy. The building is a little bigger and the neighbours know us a little better.

Door to Door (to door, to door…)

Over the last three weeks our Communications Manager, Bill Briscall and Dwayne from Hope For Freedom (see the photo below – Bill is the one holding the “information“) have been going door to door providing information about the building, RainCity Housing, and ways to get more involved. So far they’ve been to over 140 households, 80 businesses, and have spoken with over 50 residents. They still have more to do, so be on the lookout for Dwayne and Bill’s smiling faces!

We’re getting emails from people wanting to receive updates and already have a few people that wish to be on the Community Advisory Committee (CAC). There’s more info about the CAC here.

Port Coquitlam Council

On Monday, Feb 23, Associate Director Sean Spear and Communications Manager Bill Briscall presented a delegation to Port Coquitlam’s Mayor and Council. It’s important to have the City of Port Coquitlam’s support, as while the 3030 Gordon is in Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam is only a block away. Mayor Moore and Council raised some great points about working cohesively with groups like Hope For Freedom, and thanked us for the update.

Still lots of time to be a part of it!

You can sign up to receive updates on this project via email any time by emailing Bill Briscall at bbriscall@raincityhousing.org or you can let him know if you are thinking of becoming a member of the CAC.

Stay tuned for the next update!