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Olivia Skye [Applications now closed]

Olivia Skye @ 41 East Hastings Street

We have now closed applications for the 52 maximum shelter allowance units. We are planning a move-in date of February 1st, 2018. As we have received more than 340 applications for these 52 units, we will not be able to contact everyone who applied. We apologize for this. Everyone selected for an interview will be contacted by no later than December 15th and units offered to new tenants before December 30th, which gives you time to provide proper notification to your current landlord.  

About Olivia Skye?

Olivia Skye is named in honour of Marnie Crassweller, after her two daughters.
Located at 41 East Hastings Street in Vancouver, Olivia Skye is comprised of 198 studio and some junior one-bedroom suites, 52 of which (all studio) will rent at maximum shelter allowance to single women and women-headed couples, with a maximum of two occupants per unit. An additional 20 units will rent to women who are older and eligible to receive a Shelter Aid for Elderly Renters (SAFER) rent supplement.
Referrals will come primarily from women-only housing and single room occupancy hotels, where women are thinking of leaving or have given notice in order to live with a male partner (women can live with female partners in women-only housing).
The 52 units will be scattered across the 12 residential floors and each will contain finishes equal to all other units in the building, including stainless steel appliances, quartz counter tops, vinyl plank flooring and in-suite storage and laundry.
A common lounge, deck and fitness room will be available to all tenants.

Why the need for these units?

In Atira’s experience, a failed relationship is one significant factor leading to women’s experience of chronic homelessness and repeat use of shelters. When a relationship fails, it is almost always the woman who ends up having to leave the home, often for her own safety. Atira estimates that at any given time, eight of 10 women in its short-term shelters and transition houses, have been there before.

By housing women-headed couples, this project has the potential not only to prevent women’s repeat homelessness, but also to create double the vacancies (104) elsewhere in the system, freeing up rooms for others who are homeless and who are looking for supportive housing.

Tenanting Priorities

52 units will be targeted to women who are currently living in women-only supportive housing and who have demonstrated they are ready and want to move into independent housing and who wish to live with their male partners, as well as to single women ready to move on from supportive housing. Women in receipt of income assistance will be prioritized, as well as women on other forms of fixed incomes.
An additional 20 units set aside for women who are older and eligible to receive a SAFER rent supplement. More about SAFER rent supplements here:

When will Olivia Skye be ready for move in?

We are expecting move in date to be February 1st, 2018. We will provide updates on this website as we get closer to completion.

Building Art

Local artist Judy Chartrand was asked to create art for the 14 glass panels on the front façade of Olivia Skye, as well as for the glass canopy that will shelter people walking by. Judy’s statement is below.
I am an inner-city First Nations woman who grew up in the skids (DTES) since the age two. I am the fourth youngest of 13 children raised by a then single parent who spent 12 years of her formative years growing up in the harsh, loveless environment of an Indian Residential school.
When I was first approached about this project, I was asked to create something that “reflected the history of the neighbourhood,” from its original communities of Squamish, Tsleil-Waututh, and Musqueam peoples to its large Japanese and Chinese communities, who settled in nearby Japantown and Chinatown, its waves of immigrants, and Hogan’s Alley, Vancouver’s first neighbourhood that was home to a substantial, concentrated black population. In addition and because of its developer’s mission as a women’s anti-violence organization, I was asked to honour the resilience of the women who live in the Downtown Eastside, as well as the women we have lost.
I decided to use similar figures from the ancient Mimbres culture that I used on a Memorial Bowl and a large three-person banner that has been a part of the Women’s Memorial March for more than 20 years. I incorporated a medicine wheel because it represents the four directions, the four elements of life, the four medicines, the four seasons, the four states of wellbeing and the four colours of humans as well as the four stages of life. In addition to this, I created a word cloud to reinforce the presence of the people who lived in the margins of the then downtown Vancouver. The medicine wheel is about as indigenous as any symbol comes and it signifies health and healing.
The design with the women holding hands around the medicine wheel will be displayed in its entirety on a wall as you enter the building. The word cloud will be on the glass awning so that on a sunny day, the words will be projected as shadow onto the sidewalk, and at night through illumination. We hope that on any given day of living life in the DTES that someone receives comfort from the text. 
 The 14 large panels on the front of the building hold cropped and enlarged sections from the women figures around the medicine wheel. It’s contemporary and artistic as well as recognizable as figures that have been displayed at the annual women’s march. The cropping gives them an otherworldly movement across the surface of the building. I liken the female images as ancient Spirit Guides placed to watch over everyone.
I am honoured to have this opportunity to create work for a community that is dear to my heart. - Judy Chartrand

Community Partners and Funders

We have employed a number of inventive financing tools to bring this project to completion, including secondary financing, a Vendor Take Back mortgage, and commercial loans. We are partnering with the Cressey Development Group which is building the project and donating back the construction management fee, which amounts to an almost $1 million contribution. Capital grants are provided by the City of Vancouver, which also waived the development cost charges, Streetohome Foundation and Housing Partnership Canada. 60 units will be air parceled and sold to the provincial government, which will turn them over to Atira to operate at a nominal rent. Project development funding was provided by CMHC and Vancity Credit Union

Application Process

Applications are now closed.