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Community Builders News
The Power of Many
by Marcie Good


December 2004
Vancouver Magazine

The lobby of the Dodson Hotel and Pub at 25 East Hastings shows evidence of a long and complicated past. The aged, tiled flooring is worn, revealing even older floor boards. Two doors on opposite walls are labeled with faded words from another era: “Ladies Parlour” and “Mens Parlour.”

The chairs grouped by the window are someone else’s cast-offs and the elevator creaks—but there are other signs here, and they seem more important. Construction workers are busy building a new front desk, and a secure door with a buzzer system has recently been installed. A neat little notice is posted on the wall behind the coffee percolator: “Please take only two pieces of toast. That way everyone can have some.” Above the hammering and the conversation of people coming and going, the sounds of someone playing the piano float in from the pub.

The first place Gordon Wiebe takes me is the basement, because, he tells me, the foundation is integral. It’s largely empty now; three truckloads of trash have been cleared out. “I’m sure someTone would want to tear this down and gentrify it,” he says, pointing to the dirty brick walls. He shows me one of the keg lines running up through the ceiling that had been dripping beer on the electrical box. “These are some of the nightmares we had to deal with.”

Wiebe, in his pressed Columbia shirt and glasses, looks out of place in a single-room occupancy hotel in the heart of the Downtown Eastside. But the former pastor of a Langley Pentecostal church actually lives here, with his wife. He and I emerge from the dark basement, moving up the staircases and through the newly lit halls, past a red-haired woman carrying a bucket and mop. He points out doorways battered from being kicked in so many times. “Haven’t we replaced your door yet?” he says to a female tenant. “What’s wrong with us?”

UNTIL IT WAS BOUGHT by wellintentioned real estate developers in April, the Dodson was not free from the problems of many nearby rooming houses: crime, poor—if not abusive— management, and living conditions that most of us would consider deplorable. Worthy organizations such as the Portland Hotel Society have done their best, but the SROs are still a civic crisis zone. (In August the city closed the Marr Hotel on Powell and has been active on SRO issues: they’ve passed a bylaw forcing developers to pony up $5,000 per room they convert into non-low-rent use, and have a onefor-one replacement policy in place.) And yet the 125 Downtown Eastside hotels, with about 5,093 rooms between them, provide something desperately needed by residents of Canada’s poorest neighbourhood: a roof. The Dodson is an attempt to give them more than that.

 

 
 
  Video

Harts Housing - a CBC "Think Vancouver" News spotlight on Hart Molthagen

It's Our Parallel Universe - a short video created by Community Builders
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Audio
Sounds Like Canada - a CBC radio interview with David Ash
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Malaria Claims 54
by Crystal & Gordon Wiebe
The village of Kapele, with its blue water and tall palm trees could be a tropical paradise, instead, it is a place of poverty and hardship.
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  Non Profit ousted from Downtown Eastide hotels
by Terry Donnelly: CBC News
CBC News has learned a non-profit society that has been repairing two rundown Downtown Eastside rooming houses is being evicted by the landlord.

Read More
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  Doing Well by Doing Good
Prepared for Human Resources and Social Development Canada (HRSDC) Homelessness Partnering Secretariat
Prepared by: John Burrett & Steve Pomeroy
Analysis of the Business Case for Private Sector Engagement in Homelessness
Read More
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71 Tenants on Downtown Eastside Facing Eviction
by Kristen Shane (from Embassy Magazine)
Opposition alleges political opportunism, but Oda says department is doing due diligence.
Read More
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Non-profit group take over hotels
by Wendy Stueck Globe and Mail
A tug-of-war over two rundown hotels on Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside has taken another twist, with a non-profit group back in charge of operations after having being kicked out in a dispute with the buildings’ owner.

Read More
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  From Slum to Safe Haven

by Glenn Bohn, the Vancouver Sun
The story of how Molthagen and Ash came to own a Downtown Eastside hotel is not as grim
as the biographies of the impoverished people who live there, but it's a fascinating one.
Read More
 
 

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