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Advocate shows ‘real’ DTES after Vancouver real estate TikTok goes viral

After a TikTok video went viral for showing a rental listing in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside neighbourhood, a housing advocate made a mock video showing what he calls "the real DTES experience" and housing issues. Angela Bower has the story.

After a TikTok video went viral for showing a rental listing in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside neighbourhood, a housing advocate made a mock video showing what he calls “the real DTES experience” and housing issues.

The original TikTok, made by Re Angle Co-owner Kristen Gill, showed a renovated Single Room Occupancy (SRO) hotel 200 sq ft apartment, rebranded as a “micro-suite” along Abbott Street at the Lotus Hotel going for an asking price of $2,000 per month.

Housing and safe supply advocate Trey Helton saw the video, and began working on a counter video that would “bring some awareness to some of the issues within the DTES.”



“We just wanted to touch on some things – lack of washroom facilities, overdoses, the fact that buildings are constantly burning down,” he told CityNews.

The video includes scenes of alleyways off East Hastings Street, and inside SRO rooms.

“This is the neighbourhood; Get that camera out of here, I’m pooing; This is the DTES! This is bear spray; This is a naloxone kit,” are just some of the situations the video highlights.

CityNews found a room for rent at the Lotus Hotel for almost $1,950 for 145 sq ft.

“I have a friend who lived and died in this building. He was a DTES artist he had some mental health issues. It was hard for him to find a place he liked to live in, and he had been here for a very long time,” Helton says of the Lotus.


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Without vacancy control on low-income housing, Helton fears finding housing will be more of a struggle.

“He was renting [this room] for $525 a month. Renovating it and renting it out to someone for $2,000 a month is just outrageous – it’s crazy,” he added.

Gill tells CityNews the video was made to highlight how challenging the Vancouver rental market is, and says she was not hired to make the video for the Lotus.

“The response was crazy, it was viral. I expected it would get some amount of attention — people did think I was hired to make the video because I am a marketing company, so I can see how the confusion started there,” she said.

Gill has since removed the video from TikTok.

In a statement to CityNews, the minister of housing claims that: “Vacancy control provides rent protection for existing units, but research shows that it inhibits the building of new rental housing units.”

“We are in a homelessness crisis right now. [Vancouver] is the most unaffordable city to live in in Canada. People are struggling,” Helton said.

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