How Do You Double DTES Rental Profits? Rent Your Space To INSITE/ONSITE!

INSITE/ONSITE Clinic In Vancouver

I’ll start this article with a disclosure. First, I am 110% behind the concept of supervised injections sights. Having lived in London & Amsterdam where they have been successfully doing this for years, I can see the benefits of the concept. That said, after a personal experience, I am far from impressed with INSITE- and services in Vancouver’s Downtown East Side (DTES) are a comparatively a gong show…

It was at Occupy Vancouver, the day after the first overdose victim, when I contacted INSITE. I’d already spoken to the fire chief and Mayor Gregor Robertson’s office asking for help preventing a second occurrence. After no luck with them, I called INSITE to try to get someone to come to the camp and provide outreach services to the camp’s addicts.

After speaking to seven people, I finally got them to agree to send someone. Unfortunately, when they came, they brought some supplies but neglected to outreach to the people at risk. Someone died the next day.

Police at the scene of Occupy Vancouver’s second overdose…

Anyhow, I’ve spent a good amount of time researching Vancouver’s poverty pimp industry lately. I’ve been fascinated with the issue ever since back in December when I learned from Michael Geller that DTES HEAT Shelters (a mat on the floor offered during cold weather) earn a whopping $2,800 per/mat, per/month in funding!

So I was researching DTES funding when I came across some interesting information on the space Vancouver Coast Health rents on behalf of ONSITE- a residential detoxification centre that is a sister organization to the INSITE supervised injection centre. And, it looks like another cash cow for someone…

The building, at 137 East Hastings Street is run by a shell company named “93 Leasing Ltd.” owned by a man named Qwan Song Lee. Previously it was used as an SRO with 18 beds on the third floor, and the second floor was vacant.

Here’s a copy of the application the owner made to the City of Vancouver to convert the space:

If the 18 rooms were rented out at the highest rate of a typical SRO ($375, the highest amount welfare pays for housing), the owner was previously earning approximately $81,000 per year for the third floor. The second floor was vacant- and was not converted into individual units- but, to be generous, let’s assume it was also worth $81,000.

This would bring the total rental of the space to $162,000. He’d also have operating costs, and the occasional empty room. Running an SRO costs much more than renting out space- there has to be an on-site supervisor for example. In the best-case this would cost $30,000 per year.

So, one would imagine that it would have cost VCH less than $162,000 to rent the space- right? Well, no, in this case, VCH is paying a whopping $286,221.22! So, not only does the building owner have a lower operating cost, but he gets an additional $120,000 per year in rent! How did this happen?

Yet another story of the benefits of being in the poverty pimp industry folks…

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