Our First Housing Project
Coast Mental Health’s first affordable rental housing project opened in 1974. We are so grateful to Jackie Hooper, who kindly brought the concept to Coast Mental Health’s attention and volunteered her time to see the project through to completion.
During the early 70s the deinstitutionalization of psychiatric hospitals were taking place nationally. There were also changes to the National Housing Act. The Act was amended to include provisions to support non-profits and cooperative housing. This would allow Coast Mental Health to apply for a low interest rate on a mortgage through the Canadian Mortgage Housing Corporation.
Jackie Hooper was an ex-patient of a psychiatric hospital in the early 70s. She understood the benefits of a shared experience as an important part of her recovery. Jackie’s hospital experience formed her vision for housing with supports.
One person with a clear vision – Jackie Hooper
Jackie shared her vision with Coast Mental Health, which was just starting up in 1972. As a grassroots non-profit, Coast offered ex-patients transportation, using a school bus nicknamed ‘Ruby.’ The bus helped people access Coast’s drop-in centre located between Fraser Street and St. Catharines Street (near East 18th Avenue, Vancouver).
|1972 – Ruby the bus provided ex-patients access to community services|
Members of the drop-in centre were people living in psychiatric boarding homes within the Vancouver community, but many clients lacked the skills to use public transportation and required worker encouragement to re-involve themselves in community life.
Ruby allowed approximately 30 ex-psychiatric patients to access daily supports to assist with their wellness. During this time, Jackie and her allies, learned a great deal from engaging with members of the drop-in centre. It became evident that support services and housing were required.
As a volunteer, Jackie collaborated with Coast Mental Health to find the resources to renovate a small 10-unit apartment building located in the West End; a first of its kind in community mental health services.
|1974 – Coast Mental Health’s first housing development – Sheraton Apartments.|
This was an innovative housing project, which demonstrated the social and economic value of mental health supports, ultimately encouraging future investments in community healthcare that many families rely on today.
Thank you Jackie Hooper
As a tribute to Jackie Hooper’s dedication and persistence in establishing Coast Mental Health’s first housing development, the building was renovated and renamed Hooper Apartments in 1997. This housing model became a central pillar of services for Coast Mental Health when it was re-incorporated in 1974.
|1997 – Sheraton Apartments was replaced by a 31-unit building and rename Hooper Apartments in recognition of Jackie Hooper’s vision and dedication to building the first housing with supports for people living with mental illness.|
In 2014, Jackie Hooper was awarded the Courage To Come Back Award . This award recognizes Jackie’s courage and determination in overcoming her own mental illness, while also honouring her contributions to supporting the mental health community.
“I got the idea of starting up an apartment block where other ex-mental patients could share, live in the same situation, and possibly have a lounge where they could have meals,” said Jackie. “I wanted it to be in the West End because people who were ex-patients might need ambulances and police cars sometimes. We wanted a neighbourhood where that wouldn’t be out of place.”
Fast forward fifty years, Coast Mental Health continue to establish long-term housing with mental health supports and daily programming to assist people living with mental health challenges. These essential daily supports ensure people living with mental illness continue to thrive in their communities.
Learn more about our three pillars of support.