Vancouver - SRO Renewal Initiative

Project Overview

The SRO Renewal Initiative (SRI) was created to renovate 13 single-room-occupancy (SROs) hotels in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, Chinatown, and Gastown areas. The project helped address the issue of homelessness in Vancouver and preserve affordable housing. These renovated units now provide safe and affordable accommodations for approximately 900 individuals at risk of homelessness.

Exterior of Tamura residences
Exterior of SRO Gastown Hotel
Date of Completion
February 2017 (Renovation)
About the Project

Between 2007 and 2009, the Province purchased 13 aging SROs to preserve affordable housing in the City of Vancouver for the most vulnerable citizens. There were many challenges during the four-year renovation process. Some of the buildings were almost 100 years old and all are municipal heritage sites--four are designated national historic sites. They required extensive structural, plumbing, electrical renovations, and seismic upgrades.

BC Housing worked with SRO operators during the renovation process to help provide alternate accommodation and supports for all residents. No residents were displaced as a result.

The project delivered:

  • Long-term, supportive housing and an improved quality of life for residents living in the housing units.
  • Updated amenities, such as cooking and washroom facilities, dependable heat, and hot-water availability.
  • Seismic upgrades made in consultation, collaboration and agreement with the City of Vancouver and consultant engineers, greatly improving building safety.
  • Restored heritage value and appearance of these century-old buildings, contributing to the revitalization of historic Vancouver neighbourhoods.

Construction finished on Tamura House in February 2017, bringing to a close the renovation phase of the SRO Renewal Initiative project.

The buildings have been turned over to non-profit societies, with agreements to manage them for the next 15 years. In addition, the Province will provide funding for a 15-year maintenance agreement, which includes providing building lifecycle and facility maintenance services for the 13 SROs.

The SRO Renewal Initiative Series

This case study series (released in 2018 and available on our research library) highlights what worked, challenges, lessons learned, and outcomes regarding several key components of the SRO Renewal Initiative.

Research Library

Project Timeline
Partners & Funding

Partners & Funding

The Province invested $147 million in this initiative, under a public-private partnership. This included $29.1 million from the Government of Canada through the P3 Canada Fund.

P3 Partners:

  • BC Housing (Province of British Columbia)
  • Government of Canada (Funding Partner)
  • Forum Equity Partners (Funding Partner)
  • Ameresco Canada (Design-Builder)
  • Black & MacDonald (Facility Maintenance Provider)
News Updates

March 24, 2017

Affordable housing, heritage preservation SRO completion legacy

VANCOUVER – The construction phase of the Single Room Occupancy (SRO) Renewal Initiative is now complete and all 13 of the renovated single-room-occupant buildings are fully operational.


February 27, 2015

Historic Gastown Hotel officially re-opens in Vancouver

VANCOUVER – After 17 months of renovation, the governments of Canada and B.C., along with community partners, announced the official re-opening of the Gastown Hotel today.

October 10, 2013

Major renovations make low-income homes more energy efficient

Major changes are in the works for 13 of the single room occupancy hotels BC Housing owns in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside community.

January 10, 2013

Agreement will revitalize 13 Downtown Eastside hotels

VANCOUVER – Renovations for 13 provincially owned Single Room Occupancy (SRO) hotels in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside will begin now that the project agreement has been signed with Habitat Housing Initiative (HHI).

October 26, 2012

Renovation project moves ahead on Downtown Eastside

VANCOUVER – Habitat Housing Initiative has been selected as the preferred proponent to renovate and restore 13 provincially owned Single Room Occupancy (SRO) hotels in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.

March 2, 2012

Partnership to renovate hotels in Downtown Eastside

VANCOUVER – The Government of Canada and the Province of British Columbia today announced a public-private partnership to renovate and restore 13 provincially owned Single Room Occupancy hotels in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside to provide access to clean and safe social housing.

October 14, 2009

B.C., Canada partner to renew social housing

VANCOUVER – The Governments of Canada and British Columbia announced today 101 renovation and retrofit projects totalling approximately $177 million, which is cost-shared under the Housing Renovation Partnership, a jointly funded program to renovate and retrofit social housing over the next two years creating an estimated 1,130 jobs.

February 4, 2009

$14.5m SRO hotel opens for Downtown Eastside women

VANCOUVER – Women who are homeless or at risk of homelessness will have access to more supportive housing thanks to $14.5 million provided by the provincial and federal governments to purchase, renovate and operate Rainier Hotel, which officially reopened today.

January 30, 2009

Province acquires 15 properties to expand housing

VANCOUVER – An investment of $34 million to purchase or lease 15 new properties to create and protect social housing will increase the number of locations acquired by the Province by 50 per cent, bringing the total number to 45, Premier Gordon Campbell announced today.

October 19, 2008

Unique partnership formed at government SRO hotels

VANCOUVER – The Province is partnering with the Vancouver Police Department (VPD) and the non-profit operators of the 17 government-owned single room occupancy (SRO) hotels in Vancouver to enhance communications and clearly establish procedures to ensure safe, secure and supportive housing.

March 28, 2008

B.C. protects additional Downtown Eastside SRO hotel

VANCOUVER – The Province is purchasing the 110-unit Tamura House at 398 Powell St. from the St. James Community Services Society for $2.4 million, equal to the balance of the mortgage, to protect affordable housing stock in Vancouver for those most in need.

February 14, 2008

Province buys six hotels to expand and protect housing

VANCOUVER – The Province is purchasing another six single room occupancy (SRO) hotels with 330 units in Vancouver to reduce homelessness and help protect affordable housing stock for those most in need, Premier Gordon Campbell announced today.

May 4, 2007

Vancouver hotel purchase prices available

VANCOUVER – The Province announced the purchase of 10 Single Room Occupancy (SRO) hotels with 595 rooms in Vancouver on April 3, 2007. These hotels were purchased to preserve and upgrade an important source of affordable housing stock in Vancouver for people at risk of homelessness.