Hatred and Support: News conference revealed examples of both

Vancouver, July 22, 2009: Housing Minister Rich Coleman should keep the shelter at 1442 Howe St. open. That was the main message of a news conference held on July 21 in the alley behind the shelter.

Some local condo residents have organized to try to get the shelter closed at the end of July. The decision is up to Coleman because the province funds the shelter.

The Carnegie Community Action Project organized the news conference to show that lots of people support keeping the shelter open and to reveal how hateful some of the opposition to the shelter has become.

wendy

Residents at the shelter have been harassed by some local condo owners and supported by others who brought cookies. The worst form of hate, however, descended on the shelter dwellers from the Granville Bridge above the shelter. It was a bag of feces with a note attached: “Just F*** off back to East Van where you all belong. Get the F*** out now. The bombing will continue. F*** off losers.”

Wendy Pedersen of the Carnegie Community Action Project (CCAP) said “We don’t know who did it, but it’s contributing to a climate of anxiety and a lynch mob mentality in the area.”

Fortunately J-Hock and Carter of Homeless Nation were on the spot to film the bag and note earlier in July. Shelter residents agreed to have a news conference about the hateful act but declined to call the police.

At the news conference Brenda Jamer, a condo owner who lives about a block from the shelter, told the media, “One of the main reasons why you haven’t heard from a lot of the residents in the area is that most of us haven’t noticed anything.  Very little has changed here.” Jamer also said that one of her neighbours who refused to sign a petition against the shelters was told, “I hope you get mugged.”

shitstorm

While they were organizing the news conference Wendy Pedersen and Jean Swanson of CCAP both talked to condo owners in the area of the shelter who said they were afraid to speak in favour of the shelter because of intimidation by the who are opposed to keeping it open.

People who spoke in favour of keeping the shelter open included Glyn Townsend of BC Persons with AIDS Society. Townsend said the shelter was needed because hotels in the Granville area that used to house low income people have all gone upscale. Many people who used to live in them have HIV and want to be close to St. Paul’s hospital. But with the hotels closing, they have nowhere to live that they can afford.

Teresa Diewert of Streams of Justice encouraged citizens to take time to understand why a person is forced to use a shelter. Often, she said, a homeless person’s story is tragic. “People need support and community. These shelters offer that to people,” Diewert said. Patricia Morris and David Lee spoke on behalf of Just Build It, an organization of condo and business owners in the Downtown Eastside who support social housing. Citywide Housing Coalition and Pivot Legal Society, as well as the West End Residents Association also sent representatives to support keeping the shelter open.


MEDIA

Downtown homeless shelter has its supporters
24 Hours Vancouver
July 21, 2009

Shelter Controversy
Tensions are running high near a heat shelter still open in False Creek
Global TV
Jul 21, 2009

Shelter supporters reluctant to speak

METRO VANCOUVER
July 22, 2009

Shelter’s opponents fear battle is over for them
Globe and Mail
July 22, 2009

Sleeping outside shelter’s door

Protests shut refuge, but homeless won’t go away
The Province
July 9, 2009

Opposition to Vancouver homeless shelter gets filthy
Bag of human waste hurled at downtown facility
CBC
July 21, 2009

Homeless shelter targeted by vandals as residents differ over effect on the neighbourhood
Vancouver Courier
July 21, 2009


Shelter Debate gets dirty
CKNW
July 21, 2009

community logos

Tuesday Morning Paragraph – Revitalization Without Displacement

unity-diane

Carnegie Community Action Project

401 Main Street, Vancouver, V6A 2T7

(604) 839-0379

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Dear Mayor & Council,


Is revitalization without displacement possible?

For years the city has been saying that its policy in the Downtown Eastside is “revitalization without displacement.” As a result, it has been encouraging market housing there. The market housing is outstripping new self-contained social housing 3:1 and having ripple effect on so many things that low income people in the community need and value. Land prices go up. New social housing becomes more expensive to build. Business taxes go up and neighbourhood serving businesses and social agencies can’t afford to serve the low-income community. Rents escalate in residential hotel rooms, the housing of last resort for really poor people (see CCAP’s hotel report[.pdf]). New businesses exclude low-income people with their prices and security guards. A new power structure dominated by the new residents who have more money evolves. Some new residents work to stop new housing and services for low income residents.

Low income residents in social housing may not be physically displaced. But they become emotionally and financially displaced as the community hubs they depended on diminish and as stores become more expensive. Neighbours exist in isolation from each other or in conflict (see Kafuffle at the Dominion Hotel). Low-income residents who aren’t in social housing find there is no place they can afford and are physically displaced. Revitalization without displacement is really gentrification, especially when senior governments refuse to fund adequate amounts of new social housing to prevent displacement.

There is a better way. Stay tuned for CCAP’s mapping report later this month. It will give the city reasons to build on the strengths of the existing DTES community. And it will provide ammunition in the form of residents’ words and insights to help work for a safe, healthy, inclusive low-income community in the DTES.

This is the last Tuesday morning paragraph for the summer. Have a great summer everyone.

Wendy and Jean

Archive of previous paragraphs:

Social Innovation

Sharing

We care about each other

To stop social exclusion

This area is like a stronghold

Acceptance

DTES problems will not change by throwing richer people into the mix

Build On Current Assets

Does social housing “enable” bad behaviour?

Is the DTES a ghetto?

Social Mix or Gentrification?

Tuesday Morning Paragraph – Social Mix or Gentrification?

unity-diane

Carnegie Community Action Project

401 Main Street, Vancouver, V6A 2T7

(604) 839-0379

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Dear Mayor & Council,


Social mix or gentrification?

Our eyes popped open last week when we looked at this map on the Salient Group’s website, put there to lure buyers for its Gastown Paris Block condos whose prices start at $380,000. CCAP has just finished a community mapping process with low-income DTES residents, where residents drew sites that were meaningful to them on a blank “map”. They also drew the best housing and best places to get food and shop. Talk about two different worlds!

The Salient maps are for the western end of the DTES where over 70% of residents have low incomes, according to Statistics Canada. Salient has one map that shows 28 new developments. On this map there are only three sites that low-income mappers mapped: Woodward’s, Tinseltown, and Portside Park. But the low-income mappers put the new Woodward’s and Tinseltown in the unsafe, uncomfortable category and they called Portside Park by its community name, CRAB Park. CRAB stands for Create a Real Available Beach, the name of the group that squatted on the site of the park to get it turned into a real park.

Portside is the official name, an insult to the low-income community who fought for the park. The other Salient map seems to be mostly businesses serving upscale residents.

Sun Yat Sen Gardens and Save On Meats (which is now closed) are on both the second Salient map and the low-income residents’ maps.

Both are sites of genuine social mixing. But that’s all. The Salient maps and the CCAP maps show that gentrification in the DTES is not creating a “social mix” but what the academics call “social tectonics.”

Where two groups exist in the same space and don’t mix, or when they do mix, the mixing is conflictual. Many of CCAP’s mappers named Gastown as an unsafe or uncomfortable place because its businesses excluded them with prices or security guards who harass them.

Stay tuned for CCAP’s mapping report to be released hopefully by the end of this month.

Archive of previous paragraphs:

Social Innovation

Sharing

We care about each other

To stop social exclusion

This area is like a stronghold

Acceptance

DTES problems will not change by throwing richer people into the mix

Build On Current Assets

Does social housing “enable” bad behaviour?

Is the DTES a ghetto?

Tuesday Morning Paragraph – Is The DTES A Ghetto?

unity-diane

Carnegie Community Action Project

401 Main Street, Vancouver, V6A 2T7

(604) 839-0379

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Dear Mayor & Council,


Is the Downtown Eastside a ghetto?

Some people say the DTES will be a ghetto if it doesn’t have more condos so richer people will live there. A ghetto is a slum area occupied by a segregated group. But the DTES has many assets: a great sense of community; social services for people who need them; places where people can gather, socialize and create for free; a feeling of acceptance of all residents; and a rare sense of authenticity. The DTES has many community groups that local residents participate in and control.

Allowing condos to overwhelm the neighbourhood will damage or eliminate these many assets. There are already many examples of condo owners trying to get rid of or prevent low-income services or people in their immediate vicinity. Low income people will feel looked down on in their own community. Upscale stores catering to condo owners will constantly remind them of their poverty. Rents and prices will increase as businesses start serving people with more money. Condo owners, with many more resources than the low-income residents, will start up their own groups to push for their own interests.

Yes, the DTES has problems and they need to be solved. But let’s stabilize the existing community with all of its assets before destroying a place where low income people feel safe and accepted. Some people call it a ghetto. Residents call it a community.

Archive of previous paragraphs:

Social Innovation

Sharing

We care about each other

To stop social exclusion

This area is like a stronghold

Acceptance

DTES problems will not change by throwing richer people into the mix

Build On Current Assets

Does social housing “enable” bad behaviour?