Built as a hotel before World War l, the Dodson originally served travelers in British Columbia. In the 1930s, when Vancouver’s business core began moving uptown to Georgia Street, hotels and rooming houses like the Dodson became home to permanent low-income residents.
As heroin and cocaine use became prevalent in the community, some of the once-stately buildings became centers for organized crime and unsupported housing. As a result, the Dodson building deteriorated and long-term tenants became vulnerable to violence, neglect and untreated illnesses.
In 2004, in response to the growing humanitarian need in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, Hart and Anita Molthagen, together with David and Lise Ash, purchased the Dodson Rooms.
The building underwent major repairs from 2004 to 2006, while supportive housing management was introduced by Community Builders Group. Tenants did not lose their housing during the upgrade initiative.
In 2006, Hart and Anita released their share of the Dodson to David and Lise. The building was donated to the Dodson Foundation in 2009.