Mark Your Calendars – Second Annual Poverty Olympics Feb 8

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This family-friendly event will include a Torch Parade (starts at 380 E. Hastings at 12:30–come and join!), mascots Creepy the Cockroach, Itchy the Bedbug, and Chewy the Rat, Opening and Closing Ceremonies, events like Skating around Poverty and the Housing Hurdles, a special appearance by Mr. Con Dough. Cockroach Cake will be served. Free.  Sponsored by Raise the Rates, Carnegie Community Action Project, Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users, Power to Women, Streams of Justice, BC PWA, Downtown Eastside Neighbourhood House. For info or to get involved call 604 729-2380.

Please feel free to distribute information about this event far and wide, and check out the Poverty Olympics website at http://povertyolympics.ca. Hope to see you there!

City Staff Take Action on Jay Rooms and Rooms Open Up

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Good news about the Jay Rooms at Main and Cordova. The rooms above the old Vic’s Restaurant (soon to be another Waves Coffee Shop) are closed but about to open to women above the age of 45 who are having trouble living in the hotels.  CCAP is part of this good news story.  Read on to learn more.

Since March community residents have been noticing that the upstairs rooms were being used as offices, contrary to the Single Room Accommodation bylaw which requires that they be used as single room accommodation unless city council says otherwise.

In July, Matthew Matthew, president of the Carnegie Board, wrote to Barb Windsor of the city’s licensing department, saying that he suspected the rooms were being used illegally.  She did not get back to him.

On October 1, the agent for the owner of the building met with CCAP and said there were only 6 rooms, with another 6 closed by fire damage, and that it would cost $200,000 to make them all habitable as rooms.  He wanted CCAP to agree not to demand that the SRA bylaw be enforced, claiming that he might build some social housing (with condos) at some time in the future.

On Oct. 31 CCAP wrote an official email to the city saying we wanted the 12 rooms opened as single room accommodation and the bylaw enforced.  No answer.

In early December the new city council took office.  On Dec. 18 CCAP got an email from Windsor saying: “We recently carried out an inspection of the above premises and noted that the 12 rooms had been converted into office space, without permits and in violation of the Single Room Accommodation By-Law.”

“Notification has been sent to the owners of this violation and the file has been referred to the City Prosecutor to pursue laying charges.”

“Once I hear back from the Prosecutor with respect to the charges I will advise you.”

“It is also noted that they applied for an SRA Conversion permit on November 7th, 2008.”

On Jan. 3 CCAP got an email from Atira saying that it would open the 12 (not 6) rooms if it could raise $40,000 (not $200,000).  It is our understanding that the money to open these rooms has been found and that these rooms will be opened soon.

Earle Crowe moves into Pennsylvania

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“Welcome to our community.”  That’s how Earle Crowe began his talk to assorted politicians and community members at the opening of the Pennsylvania Hotel on Jan 7.

The newly renovated building, operated by the Portland Hotel Society, will provide 44 units of supportive housing at $375 a month rent.

Each unit has a bathroom and kitchenette.  It took years of cobbling together funds from numerous sources for the historic building to finally be renovated.

Earle told the crowd that he had been sleeping in a tent in CRAB Park for 3 years.  He said he didn’t like SRO because, “there’s no dignity in SRO’s.  You don’t have your own washroom.  [The one you do use] is plugged with shit.”  Earle is now a Pennsylvania resident.”  Now I can ask a friend to come over for a coffee or a beer.  We need more of these so everyone can get off the street,” said Early.

After thanking everyone who worked on the project, Earle concluded, “Skid row is a place in you mind, not in your city.”

Shelters or Homes, Which Cost the Most?

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It’s good that the city is opening up more shelters for homeless people.  No one should have to live on the street in winter or summer.

More should be opened up right now and governments should deal with some of the issues that make people not want to go to shelters:  the refusal to take pets, partners, and shopping carts, for example.

But when you look at the costs of shelters versus housing, the results are amazing.  According to a November news release from the Ministry of Housing and Social Development (welfare), the government budget for its Emergency Shelter Program is about $50 million in 2008.  This money funds 1500 emergency shelter beds.  Now let’s do the math:  $50 million divided by 1500 = $33,333.  Now divide the $33,333 by 365 days in a year, and you get $91.32.  That’s the cost of a shelter BED per day:  $91.32.

Last year CCAP learned that developers could build a new 400 sq. ft self contained apartment for a rent of about $1200 a month or $40 a day.  Let’s see now, if the government spent $40 a day for a unit of good, new housing for a homeless person, it could afford an additional $50 a DAY on support services before the good housing and support would cost more than a shelter bed.  So yes, we need those temporary shelters because the housing isn’t built yet, but why isn’t the government rolling out a housing construction program with health supports so it can SAVE BIG BUCKS?

 

Bank pulls funding on luxury DTES condos

Yipee!  Yaletown is not moving east as quickly as we thought.

The infamous V6A condo project who’s giant hole graces Union Street between Main and Gore, has stalled thanks to the global market crash.

According to an article dated Sunday November 16, 2008 in the Province Newspaper, this condo project had its funding pulled by a bank.

We can’t get too excited.  This is only one stalled condo project.  At a rate of 3 condos to every 1 social housing unit under development between 2005-2010, our neighbourhood may soon be overwhelmed.  New condos and the new stores that come along with them, mean rents will continue to spiral upwards.  Say hello to more poor bashing and more “NIMBY’s” (people who don’t want to live near people with “problems.”)   We need more safe, secure homes like the 5000 social housing homes we have already where people can nurture themselves, their friends and family and put down roots and contribute to the community.

Goodbye a poem by Diane Wood sums up our situation

Say goodbye 2 th DTES as we know it

The yuppies buyin condos don’t wanna see us
Don’t wanna know about sandwich & souplines
When they shop at Nestors
Don’t care what a great paira shoes U scored at the 1st United
While they’re buyin a leather jacket 4 their dog
Won’t B looking 4 a dollar bag at Sunrise, or in any dumpsters
Don’t wanna know where 2 get a free haircut when they’re shoppin 4 a wig And they flinch when they see us

Th people who made this community what it is
Doin what we do
In broad daylight.

LILAHC to meet with DTES businesses and condo owners

You may remember we wrote about the Low-Income Land Use and Housing Coalition (LILAHC) back in August 08.  If not, here’s a little update on who they are and what they are up to.

LILAHC members live, volunteer and work in the DTES and have 100% allegiance to low-income people of the area.  The complete list of who is in this group can be found in the Aug 1 issue of this newsletter (found in the Carnegie Library) or on the ccap blog:  capvancouver@wordpress.com.

CCAP started LILAHC when we realized a vision for the DTES was needed and that we needed the support and wisdom of many others to make it happen.

Right now CCAP (with LILAHC’s support) is mapping with low-income residents as the second stage of visioning.  Another thing we are doing is planning a meeting with housing providers, businesses, revitalization groups and condo owners.  We want to discuss issues arising from our visioning process such as health, housing, incomes, small business survival, drug use, towers, income mix and safety.

Is it possible that we could find common ground with groups like Business Improvement Associations?  Well, maybe.  We suspect everyone wants a safe and healthy neighbourhood.  Preliminary conversions with a few business reps indicated to us that they may be keen on getting more new housing in the area if that will help get people off the streets.

Strathcona Residents Association call most of the Oppenheimer Area (core DTES) "Strathcona". Boundaries of these sub-areas will likely be a hot discussion topic.

Strathcona Residents Association call most of the Oppenheimer Area (core DTES) "Strathcona". Boundaries of these sub-areas will likely be a hot discussion topic.

Here are some more reasons why we decided this meeting was important.  We hope it will help us get ready if council decides we need to plan for the long term future of the area.  Also, we need to prepare for the city’s Height Review in the DTES and for the review of zoning in the Oppenheimer area, both scheduled to happen in 2009.  Lastly, we think it’s a good idea if resident-driven groups convene discussions about the DTES instead of always relying on city hall or outsiders to do it for us.  Convening the meeting may give us more opportunity to keep the format and the outcomes low-income friendly.

We hope the discussions will be successful.  But it’s just an experiment.  If it’s not useful for low-income residents, then we aren’t obliged to keep it going.

Here are a few clips out of the invitation that we sent out that will give you a sense of the tone we hope for at the meeting.

“We are also hoping that folks who attend the meetings will bring their sense of inquisitiveness and be respectful of all points of view, even those they disagree with.”

“Thanks very much and we hope to see you at the first meeting, which could be exciting, and, at the very least, interesting!!”

We’ll keep you posted in the Newsletter on the progress of this group.  Wish us luck. ~WP