The thirty tiny apartments at 18 West Hastings Street are ideally located for young professionals who otherwise couldn’t afford to live downtown in notoriously expensive Vancouver, Canada. On the flipside, this new residential complex is located in a downtown neighborhood known for low incomes and high crime rates.
When the building opened on December 19, the designers revealed the transformation from sketchy hotel to high-end housing complex. Politicians and supporters of the project cite it as part of Vancouver’s affordable housing strategy and claim creating mixed income neighborhoods is the best way to improve the area.
However, the renovation caused a stir among housing activists in the area who claim it is a clear sign of the classist gentrification occurring in the poorer parts of downtown Vancouver. Opponents of the new building fear it is a tactic to force out existing residents rather than providing the social services that the neighborhood needs. They cite the West Hastings building is one of the first major signs of gentrification in the downtown eastside.
In late 2009 the downturn in the economy dramatically changed the overall substance of 30+ year business professional, Brenda Curtiss’s life.
In her words, “Even though I had always dreamed about and somewhat planned for the day I could be ‘free’ to full-time in a small RV or camper van, the need to do so financially, seemed to suddenly be thrust upon me when the once thriving Tax Planning Firm I managed for years, had to close due to the economic downturn.
I had bought a 2000 Astro High-Top Conversion Van with my meager savings and started my full-time vandwelling journey in it at a membership vacation community in the scenic North GA Mountains where I had bought memberships in better times.
When I started out I was on shore power (electric hook-up) the majority of the time and not very well equipped without it. It was a beautifully scenic area, but after I had explored it extensively, and entertained family and friends who came to visit throughout the year (staying in the cabins there) the excitement began to wane and the nomadic side of me that had always longed to explore God’s amazing artistry began to rise up in me once again.
Photos Courtesy of Brenda Curtiss
By the end of 2010 I was ready to hit the road to travel across the USA in my little campervan! Some good friends helped me get a good battery system set up and further ready my van to live more self-sustainably.
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