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Recycled Shipping Containers Repurposed into Social Housing in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside

STH-Webmaster   |   July 18, 2011

Streetohome Foundation announces their partnership with Atira Women’s Resource Society in the innovative construction and recycling of shipping containers for social housing!

Streetohome will contribute $120,000 to assist with construction and completion of the project located at 120 Jackson Street. Imouto, meaning little sister in Japanese, is located in the heart of Japantown in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. Imouto Housing for Young Women is a two-phase housing program for young women aged 16 to 24 who are who are homeless or at risk of homelessness or living in unsafe/precarious housing.

“Streetohome Foundation is keenly aware of the housing challenges facing young women who are on the streets and vulnerable,” says Dick Vollet, CEO of Streetohome Foundation. “Youth are a priority population for Streetohome support, and we’re very pleased to be involved in a project with Atira, who have a strong history of success and experience in this area.”

Phase one is the renovation of a heritage building and will house 16 young women and two house moms, with support services provided by Atira and a number of partner organizations. It will be temporary transition housing where young women can stay for up to 12 months.

Phase two is a second stage housing program with six, self contained units made from recycled shipping containers, the purpose of which will be continued supportive housing for the young women who are not ready to live completely independently.

The project will consist of 12 self-contained dwelling units that will be built in two, two units per floor, three storey building configuration. The housing units will be partially constructed off-site and then installed and completed in the lot adjacent to the heritage building.

The shipping containers will be modified to provide 320 sq.ft self-contained dwelling units. This concept may have the potential to become a landmark affordable housing solution for both the non-market and market housing sectors.

This is the first attempt to use modified shipping containers in an incorporated municipality within Canada for the purpose of providing permanent, multi-unit social housing. The project will be rudimentary in its design and concept in an effort to manage technical constraints and to simplify municipal approvals such as zoning and building permitting.

“Atira is thrilled to be partnering with Streetohome Foundation on such an innovative and important project. Imouto Housing for Young Women has the potential to change the way we look at housing in Vancouver as well as improve immediately the quality of living and offer life altering choices to some of the most vulnerable women already living in our community” says Janice Abbot, CEO of Atira Women’s Resource Society

The units will have a cost of approximately $85,000 per unit (excluding land) where traditional, concrete buildings have a cost of around $250,000 per unit. Other partners include BC Hydro, Real Estate Foundation of BC and MC Quarters.

For more information on Imouto Housing please visit www.atira.bc.ca/120Jackson


Janice Abbott, Atira
[email protected]


Caithlin Scarpelli, Atira
[email protected]
604.531.9143 ext. 21


Nicole Adams, Streetohome Foundation
[email protected]
604.629.2711 ex 103