Housing for transgender, two-spirit people opens in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside

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02/21/2021

New housing for transgender, two-spirit and gender-diverse people is set to start accepting residents in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. Ross-Aoki House, a century-old 24-room hotel, was purchased by the City of Vancouver in 2019 for $3.8 million, using revenue from the Empty Homes Tax. The city has appointed Atira, a non-profit society that runs several other housing projects in the city, to manage the building. “As a person who has worked in the DTES for 17 years and is trans themselves, I’m pretty excited about it,” said Aaron Munro, a director with Atira who is overseeing the project. Munro said the rates of death and violence for transgender, two-spirit and gender diverse people on the street are high, and this housing will ideally make people safer. “I really see this as an opportunity to right a lot of wrongs that have happened and still happen to these courageous people.” Munro realizes, however, that this isn’t a blanket solution to LGBTQ homelessness in the DTES. He said instead it’s a place to start learning about how advocates can create more safe and inclusive housing in the neighbourhood. “We do have an opportunity to build a model along with the people who are living in the building and staff who also have shared lived experience,” he said.

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