Philosophical Shifts - Our History

40 years at RainCity! See where we started and travel forward in time to the present day. Stop and see when the new Triage opened, or when our name changed to RainCity Housing, or when then Vivian opened, or when we began working in Chilliwack.

We've seen a lot of growth over the last four decades. During that time, we’ve learned from countless individuals and caring communities that inform our work and strengthen our ability to welcome people into housing.

Click on any image to get a better look!


Triage Emergency Shelter

A Triage employee standing on front steps of the first Triage Shelter
Triage Emergency Shelter In 1982, Triage Emergency Shelter was opened at Main Street and Prior in Vancouver in a former Bank of Montreal building. The shelter was a program of St James Community Services Society and used a traditional model to temporary shelter with limited or no privacy afforded to people using the shelter.

Triage Emergency Services & Care Society

A review of the shelter in the late 1980’s determined a purpose-built shelter was required to better support people experiencing homelessness in Vancouver’s Downtown. A location was confirmed on Powell Street in the Downtown Eastside. At that time, St James Community Services Society had concerns about potential neighbour opposition to the proposed site so a separate non-profit was created to address any ‘not in my backyard’ controversy. Triage Emergency Services and Care Society was incorporated in 1990.


WindChimes Apartments

WindChimes Apartments at Heatley and Powell (Vancouver) opens in 1993 to provide permanent housing for people living with mental health challenges who have a history of experiencing homelessness.


Triage Shelter

In 1993 the purpose built Triage Shelter opens at 707 Powell Street (Vancouver) with 28 individual shelter rooms for people.


Client-Centred Approach

Client-Centred Approach is adopted. This approach is based on the philosophy that people tend to move naturally toward growth and healing and recognizes that each of us are expert in our own lives.


Harm Reduction

Harm Reduction philosophy is adopted in the spring of 2000, including a series of strategies to support people to use substances more safely, manage their use, and explore next steps.


Bridget Moran Place

Bridget Moran Place in partnership with Neighbourhood Housing Society commences. Our work focuses on supporting people living there. This partnership began in the summer of 2000 at the Oasis on East Hastings Street and moved to Bridget Moran Place on Powell Street in July 2001.


Princess Rooms

Princess Rooms was purchased through a Federal grant in the spring of 2001. We established a transitional housing program focused on providing a safe, supported housing environment for individuals with long histories of homelessness.


Strengths Model

The Strengths Model is adopted, which recognizes that if we focus on individual’s strengths, talents, knowledge, skills and experience, then people can more likely achieve their goals.


Pilot Project Funding for Princess Rooms

Private sector funding was received, making it possible to provide 24/7 support at Princess Rooms. This seed money enabled us to establish a pilot program for supported low-barrier housing.


Concurrent Disorders Outreach Team

Concurrent Disorders Outreach Team was established to develop ongoing relationships with people experiencing homelessness in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside that are living with mental health and substance use issues, and connect them to housing and other services (program ended in 2014).


The Vivian

The Vivian opens in November of 2004 thanks to a private donation, providing the first minimal barrier housing program in Vancouver specifically designed for women (trans and cis inclusive) who face systemic and individual barriers to adequate housing and health, personal and financial security.


Killarney Apartments

Killarney Apartments opens, our first housing and support program located outside of Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.


Homelessness Outreach Team

Homelessness Outreach Team begins working with people living on the streets to help them access community and government programs and assist them in securing stable housing (program ended in 2014).


Fraser Street Transitional Housing

Fraser Street Transitional Housing opens. This is our only alcohol and drug-free program and is our first program to have a Community Advisory Committee (CAC).


RainCity Housing and Support Society

On Feb 1, 2008, Triage changes its name to RainCity Housing and Support Society to reflect the growth of our programs and services.


The Shaldon Hotel

RainCity Housing takes over managing The Shaldon Hotel in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.


Winter Response Shelters

The first season operating two Winter Response Shelters in order to address the extreme weather conditions. We worked to create a strong community within two separate, large open spaces each providing shelter to approximately 40 people.


Housing First Assertive Community Treatment Team

As part of the At Home/Chez Soi national research demonstration project, RainCity is chosen to lead a Housing First Assertive Community Treatment Team in Vancouver.


The Lux

The Lux opens, providing 92 self-contained units with two separate housing programs: The Lux Transitional Housing Program and the Lux Apartments.


Harm Reduction Support Services

Harm Reduction Support Services program starts in Vancouver, providing needle exchange, pick-up, and opportunities for conversations about harm reduction and treatment (program ended in 2011)


The Dunsmuir

The Dunsmuir Community Program opened for a temporary period to provide housing and supports for a vibrant young adult population (program ended in 2013).


DTES Women’s Rock Camp

We hosted the first ever DTES Women’s Rock Camp.


Marguerite Ford Apartments

Marguerite Ford Apartments opens in the spring of 2013 welcoming 147 tenants to new housing near Olympic Village. This is a partnership with Sanford Housing Society.


NEWS Program

NEWS Program launches. The goal of NEWS is to create opportunities for community members and media creators to come together to create inclusive and supportive stories about mental health, as a way to address stigma associated with mental illness.


STOP Outreach

In the Fall of 2013 we launched the STOP Outreach Team that works with folks who have health issues and are homeless, under housed, or street involved in order to secure and maintain more permanent housing.



The Biltmore opens in February of 2014 . This housing program provides housing and support to 95 folks waiting to get into long term housing.


Open Your Heart

Open Your Heart Website is launched, with NEWS videos.


Our Bench campaign

Our Bench campaign gets world-wide attention, an awareness raising campaign we did with Spring Advertising.


Housing First Principles: Videos and Workbook

Housing First Principles: our Videos and Workbook we officially launch our ‘Housing First: Principles to Practice’ toolkit, complete with animated videos, a Facilitator’s Guide and a Workbook.


Housing First LGBTQ2s* Youth Housing

Housing First LGBTQ2s* Youth Housing is established, supporting youth (ages 18-24) to find, get and keep housing and connect with a team member weekly. Here is David in his new apartment.


Surrey Housing First Intensive Case Management Team

Surrey Housing First Intensive Case Management Team starts with 35 rent supplements to help ensure people can have some choice about where they want to live.


The Budzey

The Budzey opens with 105 units of housing for women (trans* and cis), and 41 units for women led families.


Maple Ridge temporary shelter

Maple Ridge temporary shelter opens to provide shelter to 40 people from the community (program ended 2017).


3030 Gordon

3030 Gordon opens in Coquitlam on Dec 15, 2015, with 30 shelter units, 30 transitional housing unis, and dorms for 30 people during extreme weather.


Sunshine Coast Outreach Services

Sunshine Coast Outreach Services is established, working with about 50 individuals to assist them in securing housing.


Peer Services Department

Peer Services Department is established to support peer work throughout the organization and in partnership with Vancouver Coastal Health Authority.


Peer Witnessing Pilot

Peer Witnessing Pilot developed and implemented in 3 of our shelters in response to the public health crisis.


Sunshine Coast Temporary Shelter

Sunshine Coast Temprorary Shelter opens at St. Hilda’s Church in Sechelt the winter of 2016.


Maple Ridge Housing First Clinical Intensive Case Management Team

Maple Ridge Housing First Clinical Intensive Case Management Team begins work in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows.


Fraser Health Harm Reduction Program

Fraser Health Harm Reduction Program launches in Surrey and Maple Ridge.


Indigenous Cultural Services Department

Indigenous Cultural Services Department is established with a Cultural Safety Working Group (CSWG) supporting Indigenous Cultural Liaison workers and strengthening Indigenous cultural practices and supports throughout the organization.


Housing First Outreach Worker

Housing First Outreach Worker begins work at 3030 Gordon to support people to find housing throughout the community.


Peer Witnessing

Peer Witnessing work expanded to include 9 programs.


Sunshine Coast Shelter

Sunshine Coast Shelter gets a new home with 24 hour staff and an additional 5 spaces.


OPS at St Paul’s Hospital

RainCity partners with St Paul’s Hospital and VCH to open the first Overdose Prevention Site outside Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside in May, 2018.


Streetview campaign

Our Streetview campaign launches.


The Jubilee Rooms

The Jubilee Rooms is reopened in August 2018, now run by RainCity.


Gibsons Shelter Opens

RainCity begins operating the Winter Response Shelter in Gibsons in December 2018.


New Website

The new website is launched on the first day of Spring! March 20, 2019.


Alderbridge Modular Housing

Alderbridge Modular Housing is our first modular building to open. It’s located in Richmond, BC. April 15, 2019.


Yale Modular Housing

Yale Modular Housing, our second modular building to open and our first in Chilliwack, BC. April 28, 2019.


Hightide Modular Housing

Hightide Modular Housing, our third modular building and our first in Sechelt on the Sunshine Coast of BC. April 30, 2019.


Myths of Homelessness

On June 26 we launched our Myths of Homelessness series of short videos to help dispel the myths many people think are fact about homelessness.


Peer Con 2019!

On October 28 we hosted the first ever Peer Con, a big, bold, bright celebration of RainCity Housing’s Peer Workers and the transformative power of organizations led by People Who Use Drugs in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.


Trethewey Modular Housing

Trethewey Modular Housing is our fourth modular building to open and our second in Chilliwack, BC. Nov 15, 2019.


Green Timbers in Surrey Breaks Ground

On Nov 22 we broke ground for our first building in Surrey, BC at Green Timbers.


Kingsway Community Station Opens


A partnership with the City of Vancouver, the Kingsway Community Station opened at the end of May, 2020, has four washrooms and office space for women (trans, cis, gender diverse and two-spirit folks included) that are involved in sex work and are working in and around the Kingsway area. It’s staffed by Peer Workers who have an understanding of sex work either through lived experience or close allyship with the sex work community. NOTE: the site moved to Fraser in Kingsway later that year.


First Safe Consumption Site in Sechelt

An outdoor gazebo on the roof-top deck of our Sechelt shelter became the location of the Sunshine Coast’s first public safe consumption site. It began operating on July 23, 2020. Read the story here.


Our Overdose Prevention Site opens in Yaletown

We moved into Yaletown from St Paul’s Hospital to have more space and provide services to more people. The new location has been named the Thomus Donaghy Overdose Prevention Site. Thomus, a Peer Worker, died in July 2020. The artwork in the mural featuring Thomus was done by Vancouver Graffiti Artist Smokey D.


Gibsons Modular Opens

On March 10, 2021 we began moving tenants into this brand new modular housing project School in Gibsons, BC.

The exterior artwork is a collaboration between two Nations. The artists are Simon James, who is from the Kwakwa̱ka̱ʼwakw Nation, and his apprentice, elder Sheryl Rivers, who is from the Squamish Nation. 


Foxglove opens in Surrey

In April of 2022 people began moving into Foxglove, our first building located in Surrey. Foxglove has a 31 room shelter, 100 units off supported housing, and 34 of the people in the housing units have access to enhanced health supports. The photo is from the official opening event with all three levels of government in attendance.

We strive to keep this timeline and other areas of our website as up to date as possible. If you have any observations or ideas about this page or others on the website, please email Bill Briscall at