Recently I had a great visit with Claudia Launhardt and her husband Nasser. They are doing some great work in the Downtown East Side (DTES) of Vancouver. In 2001 they purchased the Ivanhoe Hotel, a low income single room occupancy (SRO) building in the DTES. They are people of faith who have a great story to tell. It is evident that God is at work through them.
When the Launhardts bought the 125-room hotel, it was receiving up to 600 police visits a month. They worked hard to redeem it from its infamous reputation as the ‘devil’s playground.’ They renovated extensively, replacing the roof, the elevator, and the heater. With the help of TWU [Trinity Western University] students, they also painted and recarpeted to make the place more appealing for residents. “We want people to feel at home here and take pride in where they live,” Launhardt says.
Soon, the new owners found residents were as eager as they were to eliminate crack dealers and violent criminals from the hotel roster. “People came to us and said, ‘Don’t rent a room to this guy, he’s dealing drugs,'” Launhardt says. Slowly, with prayer and prudent management, the hotel was purged of its undesirable tenants.*
Today, the Ivanhoe requires no government subsidies and pays for itself as it cares for some of the most vulnerable of Vancouver’s residents. It is great to see people of faith making a difference. We need more brave followers of Jesus who will help transform the lives of the people of the DTES.
*”Room at the inn for Vancouver’s poor,” by Louise Rousseau, CanadianChristianity.com, reprinted from Trinity Western magazine, http://www.canadianchristianity.com/cgi-bin/na.cgi?nationalupdates/031204room