First-of-its-kind workers’ co-op offers housing to low-income earners in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside
Wendy Tredger lived for seven years on the first floor of the historic Keefer Rooms SRO in Chinatown, where her sleep was routinely interrupted by responding to the increasing number of overdoses caused by the toxic drug crisis.
“There was nobody on the front desk, so the paramedics would pull up below my window and yell, and I would run down (to the ground floor) to let them in. I don’t think that in the last year there was ever one night that there wasn’t at least one ambulance call,” said Tredger, 69.
Even though she had a job operating the front desk of a supportive housing building run by Atira Women’s Resource Society, Tredger could not move to a better place because Vancouver’s sky-high rents are unaffordable on the relatively low salaries non-profit agencies can pay.
After the Keefer burnt down in September, Tredger was offered a place in a new project in Gastown, subsidized by Atira. It’s a 31-room co-op for the agency’s staff where the rent is based on employees’ incomes. They live in proper apartments in a stable environment that’s near their work in the Downtown Eastside.
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