When you think of safe housing, a jail is not what comes to most people's minds. But converting a jail into affordable housing for low-income residents is exactly what the city of Vancouver, B.C. is doing. They are taking on a unique project that will provide safe, comfortable housing for low-income residents and at-risk youth in Downtown Eastside, one of Vancouver's oldest, historic neighborhoods, and one of the poorest in Canada.
96 brand new units
The former Vancouver jail in the Downtown Eastside will now provide 96 brand-new housing units. Thirty-seven of the units will be reserved for at-risk youth from ages 15-30 who participate in the BladeRunners program that provides them with basic training designed to help them enter the labor force. The remainder of the housing will be for at-risk women, low-income individuals, and those who are at risk for being homeless.
Will include amenities
The new housing program also includes a multi-purpose room, a courtyard with community garden, a lounge area and a place to store resident's bicycles. The seven-story building will contain brand new units on six floors with one floor devoted to office space. The entire project is part of the city's plan to help residents in the community's Downtown Eastside.
City officials believe the plan is good for building a stronger Downtown Eastside economy by combining affordable housing with job training for the area's most vulnerable residents. Meanwhile, other officials in other cities are wondering why they aren't doing the same with old run down buildings.
For more details about the BladeRunners program, visit www.bladerunners.info