British Columbia

Downtown Eastside charitable non-profit facing eviction

A charitable non-profit agency, supporting residents on Vancouver's Downtown Eastside for the last 16 years, is being forced to find another location to operate, after receiving an eviction notice in April.

'There's a need for a place of safety and a calm space for people to process those traumas in their life'

Elizabeth Detcher takes part in a group dinner at Jacob's Well. (CBC)

A charitable non-profit agency, supporting residents on Vancouver's Downtown Eastside for the last 16 years, is being forced to find another location to operate, after receiving an eviction notice in April.

The co-director of Jacob's Well, Silas Krabbe, says he isn't sure how they'll be able to afford rent at another location, 

"We're looking at a market rate of double what we're currently paying". 

The faith based charity provides support and community activities to members of the Downtown Eastside, but Krabbe says, more importantly, it gives people a sense of belonging.

"So there's a need for human connection and being validated", said Krabbe.  "Someone you know can hear about your bad day or your good day or hear about what has happened in your week."

Toll of opioid epidemic felt

The need for their services, Krabbe says, has grown along with the opioid epidemic, as many of their patrons have lost people they know. 

According to the the B.C. Coroners Service, since last November, 620 people in B.C. have died of suspected drug overdoses.

Jacob's Well, a charitable non-profit support agency on Vancouver's Downtown Eastside, will soon have to find a new place to operate after receiving an eviction notice.

Elizabeth Detcher has been going to Jacob's Well for three years and says the deaths have had a tremendous impact on the community and on her personally.

"I know 13 people that overdosed down on Hastings," said Detcher. 

"When I walk by Hastings (Street), if I see someone on the ground, I stop and look and tell them to come to Jacob's Well. I just want to make sure they're OK."

Detecher is worried more people will end up on the street if Jacob's Well isn't able to find a new space to move to. 

What will happen to building? 

Krabbe does not know who purchased the building, and a City of Vancouver records search does not yet show who the new owner is.  

A development permit has not been filed, but there are indications the area is in transition. There's a development application posted on the property two doors down, and, within the same block, there is a new building going up. 

Jacob's Well would like to stay on the DTES and is looking for a storefront location and is also raising money to help facilitate a move.

The City of Vancouver says it has been contacted by the organization but couldn't say what, if anything, can be done. It says discussions are ongoing.

The group has to be out by September 2017.

About the Author

Brenna Rose

@BrennaRoseTV

Brenna Rose is a reporter and anchor who reported across western Canada before making her way to CBC Vancouver in 2015.

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