Council approves plans to re-open 66 upgraded and desperately-needed rooms in Downtown Eastside

Council today approved plans to upgrade and reopen two long-shut Downtown Eastside hotels, restoring 66 desperately-needed rooms to the city’s low-cost housing stock.

One is the soon-to-be renovated American Hotel, a 928 Main St., a formerly notorious den of crime and misery. New owners will complete an upgrade to bring 42 rooms back into service, six of them at the welfare rate of $375 a month, the rest at a very low market rent.

Also coming back online is the Pender Hotel, at 31 West Pender, where the Vancouver Native Housing Society will operate upgraded 24 rooms at the welfare housing rate.

Credit is due to Councillor Kerry Jang for his continuing efforts to bring cheap housing back onstream.

For the record, the American Hotel decision was opposed by Wendy Pedersen, of the Carnegie Centre Action Project, who disagrees that the rooms could be counted in the city’s SRO totals because many are at market rents. The alternative, Jang replied, was almost certainly demolition and construction of new condos.