Future bridge shelter

Bridging the gap between the streets and stable housing

A bridge shelter is a low-barrier site where those experiencing homelessness can have a place to stay as they “bridge” the space between living outside and the next step on their journey to permanent housing.

Example of a tension fabric shelter facility in another community.

Our progress

The City’s declaration of emergency in Nov. 2023 kicked off a series of efforts to address the growing complexity and severity of Vancouver’s homelessness crisis. Following the emergency declaration, the City adopted a Homelessness Emergency Action Plan that identifies the opening of a 150-bed bridge shelter, including an on-site, medication-assisted treatment program and other wrap-around services, as a critical tool in our overall response.

Funding to establish and operate the bridge shelter has not been secured. The City is researching funding options, including private philanthropic donations and interlocal partnerships. The ongoing state of emergency related to homelessness allows the City to accept philanthropic donations, but no such funding has been secured.

Why do we need a bridge shelter?

While Vancouver’s homelessness response strategies are working, the complexity and magnitude of homelessness in Vancouver continues to grow.

  • In late 2023, we doubled our temporary shelter capacity by opening two more supportive Safe Stay Communities
  • From Jan. 2023 to April 30, the City’s four Safe Stay Communities and Safe Park have provided lifesaving, supportive services and safe shelter to 679 unsheltered individuals and supported 109 transitions to stable housing

Despite this success, there are not enough shelter beds to house the more than 500 Vancouver residents who remain unsheltered. Without shelter, people have no place to go, and for the many who are experiencing addiction, these consequences can be deadly:

What services would be available in the bridge shelter?

The bridge shelter would provide 24/7 on-site support by service providers and a non-profit operator. To help with the critical needs of those seeking help, the shelter would also include 20-25 medical respite beds, substance use services/medication-assisted treatment and peer recovery support. To access bridge shelter services, individuals would be required to follow a code of conduct like existing Safe Stay/Safe Park communities.


  • Day-to-day support: Case management, housing assessments, peer-to-peer recovery support, food service, severe weather shelter
  • Medical Assisted Treatment Program: Treatment for addiction and mental/behavioral health support
  • Respite beds: Medical recovery beds for those experiencing addiction
  • Other services: Work opportunities, education, animal care/clinics, donated food distribution

How much would the bridge shelter cost?

Estimated costs

  • $16 million – to acquire property, develop the land and build the shelter
  • $6.5 million – annual operating and management cost in the first year. This cost would grow at the rate of inflation annually for the shelter’s 10-year lifespan

What would the bridge shelter look like?

The City is looking at a tension fabric structure to house the shelter because it offers power, climate control, weather protection, and faster construction time compared to a traditional shelter or reuse of an existing building. The physical space would provide 150 beds, a dining area, a community space, a warming kitchen and bathroom facilities. Photos of similar tension fabric shelters in other communities are shown below:

Where would the bridge shelter go?

Potential shelter sites have been identified, but acquiring a site cannot move forward without funding for ongoing operations.

These potential sites are:

  • located on or near a transit line
  • near services
  • appropriately zoned for this use
  • large enough to accommodate a 150-bed shelter

When the acquisition process moves forward, surrounding neighbors and businesses will be invited to share feedback, concerns and learn more about the shelter’s operations.

How long would the bridge shelter operate?

Given the magnitude of the homelessness crisis and deficit of income-based and permanent supportive housing, the City anticipates operating the bridge shelter for 10 years.