Non-residents said to be crowding housing facility on Johnson Street

published on August 17, 2017 by Katie DeRosa in Times Colonist

Former tent city residents living at 844 Johnson St. say even with rules requiring guests to sign in and restricting overnight stays, the building is crowded with non-residents, including some surreptitiously subletting rooms.

Portland Hotel Society, which manages the supportive housing complex on behalf of B.C. Housing, is fighting an order by the Residential Tenancy Branch to stop prohibiting overnight guests and forcing guests to sign in with ID.

Jade Boyd, a researcher at the B.C. Centre on Substance Use, has published her findings on surveillance in supportive housing. After talking to people in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, she found that video cameras, coercion, police presence and staff surveillance negatively affected the everyday lives of low-income residents.

“Our research has demonstrated that restrictive guest policies prevent access to family and community, create isolation, and are at odds with respectful and dignified housing that low-income people need and deserve,” Boyd said in a statement.

“These kinds of policies should be avoided, and the health and social well-being of residents should be prioritized.”

The tent city on the courthouse lawn was shut down in August 2016 after the province invested more than $26 million to buy four buildings to provide supportive housing — the former Central Care home on Johnson Street, Mount Edwards Court seniors home on Vancouver Street and the Super 8 and Tally Ho hotels on Douglas Street.

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