Photo by Bigstock.
Services for vulnerable Downtown Eastside renters and survival sex workers will continue and even expand thanks to two new grants from the City of Vancouver.
On May 28, the city approved a $400,000 grant to WISH for expanding their office spaces at 330 Alexander St. and $8,000 for the Residential Tenancy Branch to remain open at Aboriginal Community Career Employment Services Society (ACCESS) at 390 Main St.
“Council is strongly committed to protecting vulnerable residents in the Downtown Eastside and supporting low-income renters,” said Mayor Gregor Robertson in a press release. “These two grants reflect the city’s continued resolve to improve safety for women in the Downtown Eastside and help address challenges with affordable rental housing.”
WISH already offers services for about 400 vulnerable sex workers at 330 Alexander St., but will be moving their administrative services, currently located on West Pender, to other offices in the city-owned building. The move means the non-profit organization will no longer be paying rent and can put more money towards programming.
“We don’t pay rent to the city for that building, we have a long-term lease on it. They’ve been really generous with us,” said Kate Gibson, executive director of WISH, adding they have a lease until 2018 and the option of two five-year renewals.
“It just makes us that much more secure and sustainable.”
The grant is in addition to another $50,000 grant the city provides for WISH’s Mobile Access Project van, providing services to survival sex workers on the streets. The city press release notes financial support for WISH fulfills some of the recommendations of the city’s Sex Trade Task Force and the Missing Women Commission of Inquiry.
The $8,000 for the Residential Tenancy Branch (RTB) at 390 Main St. will help continue a six-year partnership between RTB and ACCESS to serve residents of the Downtown Eastside. The money will come from the City’s Street Homelessness budget.