Covenant House's new $34 million youth shelter in downtown Vancouver opens

Jun 20 2022, 5:17 pm

A new and expanded homeless shelter specifically tailored for the unique needs of at-risk youth has now reached completion in downtown Vancouver.

Covenant House’s phase two expansion project at 1280 Seymour Street is a new 10-storey building with 40 new shelter units and various supporting amenities and services, including an art therapy room, classrooms, fitness facilities, and outdoor areas.

Most of the shelter units contain two beds — a total of about 80 beds — and capacity can be expanded in the future to allow up to 150 beds in this single building.

Several weeks earlier, a team of volunteers from the Vancouver office of Morgan Stanley assisted Covenant House staff and volunteers with getting the various interior spaces ready, including making beds and helping with furniture set-up.

covenant house vancouver 1280 Seymour Street

Morgan Stanley volunteers help set up the new Covenant House shelter at 1280 Seymour Street, Vancouver. (Covenant House Vancouver)

covenant house vancouver 1280 Seymour Street

Morgan Stanley volunteers help set up the new Covenant House shelter at 1280 Seymour Street, Vancouver. (Covenant House Vancouver)

covenant house vancouver 1280 Seymour Street

Fitness gym inside the new Covenant House shelter at 1280 Seymour Street, Vancouver. (Covenant House Vancouver)

This new $34-million facility is available for vulnerable youth between the ages of 16 and 24. Youth will be able to access the facility starting on July 5.

It is estimated about one-in-10 people experiencing homelessness in BC are youth under the age of 25, with 25% to 40% of this age group identifying as LGBTQ.

To fund the construction, Covenant House received $23.7 million from independent donations, $7.8 million from the federal government, and $2.5 million from the provincial government through BC Housing. Additionally, the provincial government is providing the facility with an annual subsidy of $475,000 for operating costs.

“Our new building is thoughtfully designed to meet the complex needs of youth, with spaces that will allow us to provide wrap-around supports that lead to transformative healing and growth,” said Krista Thompson, the CEO of Covenant House Vancouver.

“We are thrilled to welcome young people into our new building and stand ready to continue providing love and hope to them.”

covenant house vancouver 1280 Seymour Street

A typical two-bed shelter unit at the new Covenant House shelter at 1280 Seymour Street, Vancouver. (Sarah Kirby-Yung/Twitter)

covenant house vancouver 1280 Seymour Street

Rooftop patio at the new Covenant House shelter at 1280 Seymour Street, Vancouver. (Sarah Kirby-Yung/Twitter)

covenant house vancouver 1280 Seymour Street

Morgan Stanley volunteers help set up the new Covenant House shelter at 1280 Seymour Street, Vancouver. (Covenant House Vancouver)

covenant house vancouver 1280 Seymour Street

Morgan Stanley volunteers help set up the new Covenant House shelter at 1280 Seymour Street, Vancouver. (Covenant House Vancouver)

This follows Covenant House’s 2019 completion of its phase one project immediately across the street at 1302 Seymour Street, which provides 28 units for at-risk youth. The first phase, costing $15 million, also received $5 million from the provincial government, with the remainder covered by fundraising efforts.

A final and third phase will renovate Covenant House’s existing space at 326 West Pender Street near Victory Square.

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