At the January 25 VTU General Meeting, members voted to sign a lease starting in February for a small office space in the Sun Wah building on Keefer Street in Chinatown.
Members broke out into groups prior to the vote to discuss pros and cons, and to brainstorm how to best make use of the space. Some of the first points brought up were about how being a homeless organization makes organizing more difficult without one place to store all our materials like banners, tabling kits, sign up sheets, etc. In addition, it was brought up how having an official space an address would add legitimacy to the VTU as an organization, which may instill the confidence needed for potential donors to take the next step and support us financially. Taking up physical space also makes us scarier to landlords and developers!
In terms of how we can use the space, members envisioned ways an office space could allow the VTU to grow as an organization and offer more support to tenants. Having a private space available for advocates to meet with tenants in distress is always useful, and it could also be a consistent place for working groups to meet. Someone else brought up the idea of increasing our volunteer capacity by creating volunteer drop-in hours, where new members or people who can't commit to regular volunteering through a working group or chapter can come and be assigned a task like data entry or phoning members. There is a large open space next to the office that could be used for general meetings or other events for a small fee.
The Sun Wah building is currently home to other community and arts organizations like the Downtown Eastside SRO Collaborative Society, Artscape, Centre A Gallery, and more. Members were excited by the prospect of networking and being close to other community organizations, but it was also brought up that we must be mindful of our presence in Chinatown and make sure our support is accessible to the local Chinese community.
Stay tuned for more pictures and information about the office, and if you have any questions, please send us an email at [email protected]
Since your tenants union is taking on a big new monthly expenditure, we need your support more than ever! If 67 members signed up for a $10 monthly sustainer donation, we'd never have to worry about paying rent, and we could work towards other goals like hiring staff! We appreciate our one-time donors but monthly sustainer donors allow us to budget more effectively and plan for the future. If you haven't renewed your dues for 2020 yet and you're planning to donate $60, why not spread it out into $5 monthly donations?