We’re opening new housing in Vancouver and Victoria to bring people in from the cold.

New projects across both cities are coming online pretty much together, which means we’re going to be able to offer new homes to 160 people ahead of the icy weather.

It’s safe to say that our new residents have between them experienced homelessness, shelter stays, encampments and the all-round misery of being adrift out in the elements. And now each has the stability and dignity of their own place.

Overall, it means PHS Community Services Society will go into the New Year operating 1,735 low-barrier units in 35 housing locations in both cities. Of these, 1,540 are housing and 195 are shelter spaces.

Here’s an overview of what’s new:

The Juniper

The Juniper in Victoria is a purpose-built 46-unit supportive housing facility. Each studio apartment has a private washroom, shower and kitchenette with a full-size fridge. Four of the units are wheelchair accessible.

The six-storey modular housing development was officially opened on Monday, Nov. 28, and immediately after we began helping people move into their new homes.

They are supported by round-the-clock Mental Health Workers and the provision of nutritious daily meals, cultural programing and medical care.

“We’re excited for the opening of these much-needed supportive housing units,” said Avery Taylor, Director of Victoria Operations.

“Being housed at The Juniper will hugely improve the lives of many vulnerable people.”

The PHS Victoria team transferred participants from our temporary Mount Tolmie shelter (which we no longer operate) and long-term Arbutus Shelter guests, along with people who have been waiting on the BC Housing supportive housing registry.

There will always be a need for sheltering, but it’s indicative of the sheer scale of the housing crisis when people become regulars at our shelters.

At the opening, BC Housing Minister Ravi Kahlon said: “The Juniper marks another step in our work to break the cycle of homelessness in Victoria and across the province.”

The Stanley

The next project is to move residents into The Stanley, which provides 80 units of supportive housing in Vancouver. The rooms are large and well lit, operating alongside market-rental condos and above ground-level retail uses.

“We are so pleased to be moving vulnerable people in from the cold and wet weather,” said PHS Chief Executive Officer Micheal Vonn.

“The Stanley is a wonderful building that will significantly improve the lives of the new residents and wider community.”

We’ve been operating a property called The Stanley at that location on and off since 2001. Built in 1899, it was an increasingly dilapidated SRO that was finally condemned in 2017.

When we moved out, we told residents they would have first refusal on the newbuild, and that’s exactly what we’re doing. Plenty of new faces will be moving in, also.

Developers were able to save the building’s historic façade, but within it’s a purpose-built supportive housing development.

As with all such ambitious construction projects it took longer than initially hoped, but we’re on track to have people housed for Christmas. Again, there will be the range of PHS supports.


Another project that opened in November, Offsite, is a bit of an outlier among PHS housing.

It’s a shared house providing independent living for five people leaving our Onsite stabilization and residential recovery program who would otherwise be precariously housed.

Thing is, no matter how well you progress through the residential Onsite program, graduating without having somewhere suitable to live would place you at an immediate risk of relapse. This is a housing crisis, and it’s unjust to expect people to return to homelessness.

Residents receive social work and other supports, although do not require 24/7 Mental Health Worker coverage.

Dovetail Annex

And back in September, we opened Dovetail Annex, providing 29 units of housing for people who have been living in shelters and the encampments on East Hastings St. and CRAB Park.

This is a one-story, 6,458 square-foot building that’s typically used by workers at logging or mining camps, with private rooms and shared washroom, laundry and kitchen spaces.

It fits in immediately alongside to our pre-existing modular housing at Margaret Mitchell Place, so we named it Dovetail.

“As we have already been operating housing at this location for several years, we are established in the neighbourhood and welcome the enhanced health supports that will assist us in building community connections and supports for residents of both buildings,” said Tanya Fader, former PHS Housing Director and currently Acting Director of Programs.