Skip to content

B.C. development delivers 135 housing units for women by women

The project features an all-female development team and will offer housing for senior women, women-led families and workforce women.
A rendering of the street-front view at 550 W 13 Avenue in Vancouver.

As new development projects pop up across Vancouver, one is standing out for its status of being built for women by women.

The 13-storey project will provide 135 units of different sizes for senior women, women-led families and workforce women, replacing the existing 21 units from the previous building, according to the federal government.

“The innovative part of this project, that makes it the first of its kind in North America, is that we’re delivering a project that’s going to provide affordable rental housing for women, by an all-woman team,” said Carla Guerrera, CEO and founder of Purpose Driven Development, in a November interview with Business in Vancouver.

She added that there are approximately 25 women on the development team and that not all of the construction positions are filled by women.

“Every single discipline that we hired on the project — from the land surveyor to the architect and all of the engineers — have all been women.”

A mix of organizations and government partnered on the project with Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, BC Housing, the City of Vancouver and Soroptimist International of Vancouver all playing various roles. Purpose Driven Development also provided development support.

The project aims to take a “gender-based look” at what women need in housing while also working to build capacity for women in the development and construction industry, according to Soroptimist.

“Our innovative project that we are building will empower women economically through holding a lease in their name and support stability and families in achieving financial independence. The connection between housing and well-being is known, and the Vancouver Soroptimists are further assisting women to be their best by providing more affordable housing,” said Carla Busnardo, a board member of Soroptimist International of Vancouver.

The site is located at West 13th Avenue and Cambie Street. The site area is 14,520 square feet and currently includes an aging two-storey rental building. The new project will feature a mix of units ranging in size from studios to three-bedroom suites, along with a shared garden and outdoor space, meeting and event space, parking and bicycle parking.

Previous tenants received relocation support through Soroptimist and BC Housing and have the opportunity to move into these new homes once they open.

“Our vision in leading this project was to demonstrate the leadership of women across design, development and construction … and really showcasing them and demonstrating their capabilities as a way of drawing more people into these fields,” said Guerrera.

The project has received a Female Frontiers Award by World Architect News and has attracted the interest of the U.S. State Department, Guerrera said.

Construction on the project is expected to be completed in 2026, according to the federal government.