With the help of the Vancity Affordable Community Housing Program, Soroptimist International Vancouver is redeveloping their Soroptimist Apartment House as a “for women, by women” affordable housing space.
“When you help a woman, you help her whole family.”Carla Busnardo, board member of Soroptimist International Vancouver, leading the development committee
Soroptimist International Vancouver is dedicated to improving the lives of women and girls through programs leading to social and economic empowerment. For this organization, “soroptimist” is more than just a name: it means “best for women”. This group of professional women has been working to improve the lives of women and girls locally and internationally since 1926, and they do it in part by operating social housing that assists women in Vancouver.
The Soroptimist Apartment House (SAH) is just one example of this: it was built to provide vulnerable women with an affordable home more than 60 years ago. But in 2021, Soroptimist International Vancouver began their journey to redeveloping the land to serve even more women.
The original SAH, at 546 West 13th Avenue, was a 21-unit apartment building nearing the end of its life. As maintenance and improvement costs grew to exceed the replacement costs, Soroptimist began pursuing a 13-storey stylish redevelopment that would offer 135 units of long-term social housing for women in the workforce, senior women, single mothers, and their children.
First, Soroptimist participated in a feasibility assessment with the Urban Land Institute in 2017. It was during that process that Soroptimist, Vancity, and Purpose Driven Development joined forces, and the City of Vancouver began reviewing the rezoning application. Purpose Driven Development has the same focus in mind: they’re bringing together a team of women from different disciplines to deliver this project, making Soroptimist Apartment House a project for women, by women.
On top of serving a community of women, Soroptimist Apartment House was designed with functionality in mind: the project includes plenty of shared outdoor gather and amenity spaces, while indoor spaces feature large balconies and windows, each inspired by nature with the use of natural materials and neutral tones.
This 13-story, 135-unit housing project is set to break ground in August 2022 and include a combination of compact studios and 1, 2, and 3 bedroom units.