[Update 17-Dec-2011, 11 am] This page is to compile concise information about affordable housing and homelessness. Both  are among the top issues in Vancouver today. The re-elected mayor and councillors have made major promises. Facts are often blurred and messages spun. Media reports are often incorrect. On the main page we will add and update the essential facts from various sources, including informants who know the facts on the ground.  Comments are open for people to add more information.


[From Rider Cooey, December 16, 2011]


Ric Matthews wrote this (http://thetyee.ca/Opinion/2011/12/16/First-United-Shelter/) for the Tyee today, responding to Coleman.

Here are excerpts from Matthews’ article:

Comments in a recent Globe and Mail article (http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/british-columbia/bc-politics/controversial-vancouver-shelter-being-phased-out/article2259139/) suggest that up to 40 per cent of the people currently sleeping at First United have housing that is being paid for elsewhere. This number [has no] basis in documented fact, and does not deal with the deeper issues of the neighbourhood.

BC Housing is not paying twice for anyone at First United. They are not even paying [once]. Minister Coleman has consistently announced that HEAT shelters cost around $100 per person each night. As the first place opened under the HEAT program, First United has never received funding remotely close to that amount. For the first three winters it operated as a place of refuge, First United received $24 per person per night. The number of spaces funded was 200. Since April 2011, we have received $40 per person per night.

Again, that is for 200 people. Any additional people, including those in that 20 per cent with housing elsewhere, have been funded by our donor base. We have been subsidizing the province by providing space and services at a fraction of any other shelter provider in Vancouver.

[From Rider Cooey, December 9, 2011]

> Despite recent night time temperatures and reports of black ice, I’ve received no Extreme Weather Alert that would open temporary volunteer-run shelters.
> HEAT Shelter: The Howe St shelter is full. Operated by RainCity.
> The new Marble Arch “interim shelter” isn’t open yet.
> The new shelter in the former St Joseph’s nurses residence is almost ready. Operated by St James Community Services.

The attached Courier story gives a good review of shelter-types and government spin.

[Source: RainCity, December 6, 2011, morning]
Howe Street Shelter opened Monday at 3pm. 1442 Howe Street, entrance in alley off Pacific Street between Howe and Granville Street. Open until spring, 24-7, three meals a day, staff on site to do referrals, VCH clinic hours, 40 people maximum, Co-ed, trans and gender variant people more than welcome, safe rooms for women, pets welcome, storage space, mat program, no curfew, showers.

Temporary cellphone at 604 506 2923, or manager cell at 604 375 9130.

From Irene Jaakson, Vancouver Extreme Weather Response Co-ordinator:
Hello, I have been designated under the Assistance to Shelter Act as the Community Representative for Vancouver, British Columbia. On December 2nd I issued an Extreme Weather Alert (EWA) for Vancouver, BC. There is no longer a need for the EWA to remain in effect and, as such, I am issuing a cancellation of an EWA. It would be appreciated if the police department in receipt of this email acknowledged receipt of this message to me only – no other recipients need to apply. Thanks again for your assistance.

[From Rider Cooey, December 2, 2011]

We’re in the midst of several days of freezing temps. That activates the Extreme Weather Response (EWR) ‘system.’ But homeless people depend on quality information… walk many blocks to a shelter that’s not open. It’s one reason they get crazy-mad, reject social workers, reject assistance.

Irene says each day of an EWR she checks with the temporary emergency shelters to see who can open and when. It means the alerts are daily and can’t really be scheduled. Volunteer staff, and the shelters themselves, aren’t always available.

[From Rider Cooey, 12 Noon, Monday, 5 December 2011]

News reports are persistently wrong:

(Quoted from Vancouver Sun)
> The two low-barrier shelters did not “open” on the weekend.
> When they do, they’ll have plastic mats on the floor– not “beds.”
> The City, not Coleman, will open the shelters, probably through RainCity Housing.
> Coleman merely said on Friday the ministry will fund operating costs; he did not “open” anything.
> Not known yet when the two blds will open: Howe St may open first. St Joseph’s former nurses. residence will probably take longer to prepare.

Comment from the street: People are still being turned away from First United and have had nowhere to go except the usual shelters–if they’re not full. So the short-term EWR emergency-shelter opening is being continued for a fifth day in a row, subject to the listed limitations.

See below.

Vancouver’s Extreme Weather Alert currently in place is continuing to include Monday, December 5th. Extra shelter spaces will be available at the following locations:

St. Mark’s Extreme Weather Shelter (1805 Larch St)
This facility can accommodate up to 25 people. Opens at 9:30 pm- Intake closes at 11:00 pm. Hot meal on intake. Carts stored inside.

10th Avenue Alliance Church (10th & Ontario)
Can accommodate up to 25 people. Open 10:00 pm to 7:00 am

First Baptist Church (969 Burrard St)
During extreme weather the facility opens between 9:00 pm and 7:00 am. Up to 35 people can be sheltered in the gym. People are provided with blankets and mats to sleep on and food and beverages are provided in the evening and in the morning.

Covenant House (575 Drake St)
Will provide overnight accommodation on folding cots for up to 12 youths (16-24 yrs). Registration between 9:00 and 10:30 pm. An evening hot meal and breakfast are provided.

Back up sites:

The Salvation Army Harbour Light (119 East Cordova St.)
Can accommodate up to 50 people. People receive mats, pillows and blankets. Coffee and a snack are provided in the morning. This shelter will only open if there is sufficient overflow from Harbour Light’s year-round and CWW shelters.

The Salvation Army Belkin House (555 Homer St.)
Can accommodate 13 men and 7 women. Opens after other shelters full after 11:00 pm. Breakfast is served at 7:30 am.

One thought on “Housing/Homelessness

  1. December 20, 2011
    Big coverage tonight by all three tv networks, including CBC National, of the Burns Block renoviction-to-micro-rentals protest.

    Each channel used some background about Burns Block rooms formerly renting at welfare rate, then interviews with new tenants, then Kerry Jang whining on behalf of the Vision City Council that he’s “in the middle”– a pathetic victim trying for a rich/middle/poor “balance.”

    As though he and Vision City Council haven’t been actively gentrifying the DTES (postal codes V6A & V6B), especially since 2005: 31 condo buildings, 4.4 per year, totaling 3948 units.

    The coverage (all media) effectively conveyed the main point:
    Housing in the Burns Block was affordable for poor people, and fairly decent until the new owner/developer let it rundown and the Fire Dept closed it on a day’s notice in 2006. Fifty people were on the street. Old tenants gone, dead; new tenants now pay $800-$900 a month.

    This low-level gentrification was, of course, made possible over some years — during which the landlord, buyer, architect, developer, CoV planners, and Vision council all conspired to neglect and empty what was affordable housing, then sell and renovate it for higher-income renters. It was, in effect, a slow-motion renoviction.

    Like the Pantages, this is now the favoured technique of expulsion and gentrification: “It was a wreck, empty, and nobody lived there… when work started.” Ignoring that it was tenanted and could have become a less trendy development, but affordable by people with welfare- and disability-level incomes.

    Rider Cooey

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