Soroptimist International Vancouver has been dedicated to improving the lives of women and girls through programs leading to social and economic empowerment since 1926, and they do it in part by operating social housing that assists women in Vancouver.
The Soroptimist Apartment House (SAH) is just one example: it was built to provide vulnerable women with an affordable home more than 60 years ago. But in 2021, Soroptimist International Vancouver began their journey to redeveloping the land to serve even more women.
"When you help a woman, you help her whole family."
- Carla Busnardo, board member of Soroptimist International Vancouver, leading the development committee.
The original SAH, at 546 West 13th Avenue, was a 21-unit apartment building nearing the end of its life. As maintenance and improvement costs grew to exceed the replacement costs, Soroptimist began pursuing a 13-storey stylish redevelopment that would offer 135 units of long-term social housing for women in the workforce, senior women, single mothers, and their children.
First, Soroptimist participated in a feasibility assessment with the Urban Land Institute in 2017. It was during that process that Soroptimist, Vancity, and Purpose Driven Development joined forces, and the City of Vancouver began reviewing the rezoning application. Purpose Driven Development has the same focus in mind: they’re bringing together a team of women from different disciplines to deliver this project, making Soroptimist Apartment House a project for women, by women.
This 13-story, 135-unit housing project is set to break ground in August 2022 and include a combination of compact studios and 1, 2, and 3 bedroom units.
“We do this because supporting community housing organizations, like the Soroptimist, is a smart and sustainable solution to the affordable housing challenges in our region,” says Andrea Harris, Vice President of Impact Strategy at Vancity.
"Our approach is to create solutions like the Affordable Housing Accelerator Fund to address pre-development costs, and work shoulder-to-shoulder with partners to make it happen. We're proud to jointly fund this project with the Vancity Community Foundation, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, and BC Housing," Andrea continues.
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