Statement from Mayor Robertson on meeting with “Our Homes Can’t Wait”

(That is -> this is the city’s version of what happened yesterday at the meeting at the Carnegie Centre.)

Yesterday, I met with representatives of the “Our Homes Can’t Wait” campaign in the Downtown Eastside to discuss issues of housing affordability and poverty in the neighbourhood. It was a good meeting with a clear articulation from residents about their frustrations with stagnant welfare rates, rising housing costs, and a dire need for renewal of decrepit SRO rooms in the neighbourhood. I was joined by Councillor Andrea Reimer and several senior members of our housing, planning and community services staff.

Several agreements came out of the meeting.

I committed to working with the community to bring forward a proposal for rezoning by June 2017 to build 100% subsidized social housing, at welfare and old-age pension rates, on the City-owned site at 58 West Hastings.

Collectively, we will work together over the coming months to advocate to the provincial and federal governments to urgently invest in housing so that we can deliver new homes affordable for people on social assistance.

We’re also re-stablishing the City’s SRO Task Force, to take next steps on addressing safety and affordability issues in low-income housing in the Downtown Eastside. We have invited representatives from “Our Homes Can’t Wait” to assist in ensuring representation on the Task Force from SRO tenants, alongside non-profits and other stakeholders.

We also discussed the growing concerns about the safety of the encampment at 58 West Hastings. Residents at the encampment committed to providing a liaison to meet on a daily basis with a designated City liaison to ensure health and safety issues are being addressed.

While our outreach staff are working to find housing for those in need, Vancouver’s homeless shelters are currently at capacity, which speaks to the level of crisis in Vancouver and throughout BC, as we see homeless camps across the province.

At the City, we will continue to use the tools we have to protect and build new housing, like offering 20 city-owned sites worth $250 million for affordable housing, as well as using injunctions to take negligent landlords to court to ensuring existing affordable housing is safe. We will also advocate for increased investments by the senior levels of government to support our most vulnerable residents, including a raise to welfare rates which have been frozen for nine years. All levels of government have a role to play and Vancouver City Hall will continue to do more than our share.

– Mayor Gregor Robertson

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58 W Hastings: We Declare

Day of Action for Housing Justice Declaration

9 July 2016

We are here, holding this space, to declare our solidarity, our collective struggle and our determination in taking this stand for housing justice!

Standing on these unceded Indigenous territories we recognize that the disproportionate number of Indigenous people who are homeless, inadequately housed, and displaced is a product of an ongoing process of colonization. Our solidarity extends to Indigenous struggles for land, sovereignty and self-determination across this land.

We demand that all levels of government respond to the housing crisis! We demand that the Federal Government put $5 billion per year into housing.  They can do this by dismantling the imperialist institutions of containment which only exist to protect the interests of the rich and the powerful against those of the poor, exploited and oppressed. Start by taking $1 billion each out of the military,  the prison system, the RCMP and other federal police agencies, immigration enforcement and detention and subsidies to Canadian mining companies guilty of gross human rights violations in countries around the world.

We are here, holding this space, because we refuse to sit idly by while our community members suffer the indignity of homelessness, the shelter system and unsafe, unhealthy, and inadequate housing!

We are here, holding this space, demanding that the City of Vancouver build 100% social housing at 58 W. Hastings.  We endorse the demands of Our Homes Can’t Wait for 10 sites of social housing at welfare rates, saving and improving SRO hotels, and rent control & a rent freeze now!

We are here to declare that we will fight for these demands!  We will not allow the City to develop 58 W. Hastings as a ‘social mix’ development completely inaccessible to people who need housing in this neighbourhood.  We will hold this space.  We will march in the streets.  We will not allow business as usual in this neighbourhood while our fellow community members suffer and die due to policies whose only real purpose is to further line the pockets of developers, big business and the already rich.  Housing is not a commodity, housing is a right!

Day of Action for Housing Justice

March in the Streets!
Raise Up the Tent Cities!
Occupy the Condos!

Demand that governments make affordable, secure and safe Housing for All a top priority!

July 9: Day of Action for Housing Justice

There is a crisis of homelessness, housing insecurity and displacement in working class & poor communities across the country. The Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users (VANDU), the International League of Peoples Struggle (ILPS) are initiating a day of action in towns and cities across Canada on Saturday July 9 to demand:

Federal Government: Spend $5 billion per year on non-market housing affordable, secure and safe housing for the people! Secure this money by cutting $1 billion dollars from each of the military budget, the prison budget, police, immigration enforcement and detention, and by ending subsidies to Canadian mining companies responsible for plunder and human rights abuses in other countries.

Provincial Governments: Rescind the new poor laws that criminalize the poor and homeless and replace them with rent control laws to eliminate speculation and profiteering off people’s basic need for housing.

Local Governments: Fund housing not police! Use city resources, including zoning and regulatory frameworks to eliminate real-estate speculation and profiteering and stop displacement of poor communities.

We also encourage local organizations and communities to make their own demands linked to local conditions and campaigns.

In making this call we recognize the racist and colonial nature of the Canadian State which results in disproportionate homelessness, housing insecurity and incarceration of Indigenous people. We stand in solidarity with Indigenous struggles for sovereignty, self-determination and justice across this land.