Official Opening of 1249 Howe Street

McLaren Housing Society's new Howe Street building, located at Howe and Davie Streets in downtown Vancouver, has been home to residents since 2013 but July 6th marked its official opening and ribbon cutting ceremony.  Terra provided development management services on the project, which provides 110 self-contained bachelor, one and two bedroom units for individuals and families who are HIV+, may have addiction and substance abuse issues and are homeless or at risk of homelessness.  There is 24/7 staffing on site and various programs are offered to residents including community meals, cooking skills and food safety sessions, workshop and life-skills programming including money management as well as recreational and social opportunities.  

Dignitaries speaking at the event included Wai Young, MP for Vancouver South, Rich Coleman, Minister Responsible for Housing, Kerry Jang, Vancouver City Councillor and Darren Kopetsky, Past Chair of McLaren Housing Society.

Wai Young opened the remarks, saying "this building is great news!"  1249 Howe Street is one of the 14 City Sites built in response to homelessness in the City of Vancouver.  Councillor Jang stated "these types of housing projects work ... they help people discover who they are".  He spoke about the increased number of young people on the street, adding "we still need more shelters.  We still need more housing because there is a whole new generation of homeless".

Rich Coleman reiterated the importance of projects like 1249 Howe Street, stating "these projects are about changing people's lives".  This is particularly true for people living with health challenges such as HIV.  As Darren Kopetsky stated "we believe housing is health".  This has certainly been the case for the three residents, Richard, Ann and Steven, who took the podium to address the gathering.

All three praised McLaren staff and the building for improving their lives.  Richard said "I have slowly turned things around, otherwise I don't know where I'd be today".  Ann enthusiastically agreed, saying "my health came back one hundred times since moving to McLaren Housing".