evolution of a caring philosophy

The mission of RainCity Housing is to advance social equity by building upon the strengths of our community and of each individual. Through innovative practices we provide housing and support, promote health and facilitate hope, opportunity and change for people living with mental illness, addictions and other challenges.

A major shift in the philosophy of the organization in 1999 led RainCity Housing to seek out best practices from all over the world and adapt them to the unique needs of our own community. We are committed to always doing better – to improve and build on what works best – to cast the net wide for new ideas that help us to continue to be a leader in providing solutions to end homelessness. Here are some of the milestones along our journey to achieve our vision of a home for every person:


  • The Triage Emergency Shelter opens at Main Street and Prior, founded as a program of the St. James Community Services Society.


  • Triage Emergency Services & Care Society incorporates and becomes an independent non-profit organization.


  • Construction of WindChimes Apartments at Heatley and Powell to provide permanent, long-term housing for chronically homeless men and women.
  • New building for Triage Shelter completed at 707 Powell Street.
  • Community Financial Administration Program commences to assist the homeless community in managing their money.
  • Community Medication Program commences to facilitate client management of their medications.
  • Community Meal Program begins at the Triage Shelter, currently providing over 60,000 meals annually to the homeless community.


  • Client-Centred Approach adopted. This non-directive approach is based on the philosophy that people tend to move naturally    toward growth and healing if provided the right supports, and have the capacity to find their own answers. It’s not about “fixing”people, it’s about helping them settle into a meaningful life.


  • Organizational adoption of Harm Reduction philosophy, acknowledging that harm is inherent in many behaviours. We work to raise awareness to assist individuals to recognize and reduce potential harm in their lives.
  • Bridget Moran Place partnership with Neighbourhood Housing Society commences (located at 668 Powell). This housing is for people requiring less support to maintain their home.


  • Federal grant received for purchase of the Princess Rooms (located at Princess and Powell). Process begins of creating our first low-barrier Housing First program for the most at-risk, chronically homeless men and women in the community.


  • Private sector funding received for Princess Rooms to provide 24/7 support. This provided seed money for a cutting edge pilot program of low-barrier housing that attracted government funding.
  • Organization adopts Strengths Model to better serve clients, helping them to recognize and use their strengths, their talents, knowledge, skills and experience, in order to help them achieve their goals and experience an improved quality of life.


  • First fundraiser luncheon which evolves to become the annual Shining a Light on Homelessness event.


  • Concurrent Disorders Outreach Team initiated to develop ongoing relationships with chronically homeless people in the Downtown Eastside who are living with mental illness and addiction, helping break the cycle of homelessness, instability and poor health.
  • Private sector funding received to purchase rooming house at 512 East Cordova Street and operate a demonstration project. The Vivian opens in November, providing housing specifically for women, recognizing the unique challenges faced by at-risk, chronically homeless women. This is the first housing and support program of its kind in Vancouver.
  • Vancouver Coastal Health funds Princess Rooms to provide ongoing 24-hour support for clients.


  • Killarney Apartments opens in May, our first housing and support program located outside of the Downtown Eastside (at Elliott and 51st Avenue).
  • Homelessness Outreach Team begins working with homeless people living on the streets to help them access community and government programs that will assist them in securing stable housing.
  • Fire at the Vivian, the 24 women residents are relocated into other housing programs.
  • Grant received to purchase a van and a car for staff to take clients on outings such as to medical appointments, moving their belongings, and grocery shopping.


  • The Fraser Street facility (located at 39th and Fraser) opens in August. This unique facility is the first and only of its kind in western Canada, specializing in providing 24/7 supported housing for people with mental illness and addictions who have chosen to live substance-free.
  • Vivian reconstruction completed and re-opens in July, thanks to a grant from BC Housing and generous support from many donors.
  • MacLean Park opens in November, providing support for 20 adults living in the Chinatown area (located at Keefer and Gore).


  • Triage changes its name to RainCity Housing and Support Society to reflect the growth of our programs and services.
  • In September RainCity Housing takes over managing The Shaldon Hotel, providing 24 hour staff.
  • RainCity Housing opens a low barrier temporary shelter (December) in response to the extreme weather conditions. Pets and shopping carts are welcome.


  • In February a second low barrier temporary shelter is opened in response to the extreme weather conditions.
  • Chosen to play lead in developing a Housing First Assertive Community Treatment team, part of a Demonstration Project set up by the Mental Health Commission of Canada.
  • The Lux opens in April, providing 92 self-contained units and two separate housing programs:The Lux Transitional Housing Program and the Lux Apartments for more independent individuals.
  • Harm Reduction Support Services provides needle exchange and pick-up.
  • The Dunsmuir Community Program provides a forum for individuals to become more involved in their community.