Media Release – Housing Minister plans to force homeless into shelters – or jail

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For Immediate Release

Sept. 21, 2009

Forcing homeless into non-existent or cramped shelters is hypocritical and could be dangerous

The Housing Minister’s plan may force homeless people into shelters during cold, wet weather has numerous problems in addition to violating their civil rights. That’s the conclusion of the Carnegie Community Action Project after reading internal documents released to the public. “Just between April 1st and September 13th of 2009 almost 2000 people were turned away from the city’s HEAT shelters because they were full. And now 2 of them are closed,” said CCAP organizer Wendy Pedersen. “There aren’t enough shelter spaces for people to go to.”

“In addition,” said Pedersen, “If homeless people think they will be forced into shelters or jail for sleeping outside, they may decided to sleep in “out of the way places” that are more dangerous than sleeping where a lot of eyes are on the street. Women, especially, could be in more danger because of the proposed policy.”

“Some people have good reasons for not wanting to go to shelters,” added Pedersen. “When dozens of people sleep in one big room colds, flus and more serious diseases like pneumonia and TB are spread. Things get stolen.”

“If Housing Minister Coleman really wants to help homeless people, he should release funds to build more decent, self contained housing for them,” Pedersen concluded. “The province has a $250 million Housing Endowment Fund that it refuses to spend on social housing. This money is enough to put good housing on all 12 sites that the city has ready and waiting for funds from the provincial government.”

Background:

View Internal documents obtained and released by the BC Civil Liberties Association: http://ccapvancouver.wordpress.com/

Other Media:
BC government to jail the homeless

by Harsha Walia

Vancouver Sun

Sept 21, 2009

Media Release

mapping cover

September 16, 2009

Unlimited condo development could wipe out good things about Downtown Eastside (DTES)

Most of the things low-income residents, who make up 70% of the DTES population, like about the DTES could be wiped out if the city continues to allow unlimited condo development in the area. That’s the conclusion of a report on community mapping released today by the Carnegie Community Action Project.

The democratic mapping process involved over 200 residents at 18 DTES community hubs. Participants were asked to draw their most meaningful place in the DTES on a blank map. Then they were asked where the best housing and best place to get food and shop were. Everyone was asked why they chose the places they chose and extensive notes of their answers were taken.

The DTES is a real community where low-income people feel accepted. “We’re on no levels here and I don’t know anywhere else where that happens,” said one of the 200 participants. The mapping process also showed that DTES residents like being able to get the things they need without using a car or transit (which many can’t afford), and can volunteer and participate in numerous organizations to help others and themselves.

The DTES is also a place where people who live in some of the 5000 social housing units feel that they have a strong base and network of support, where the green spaces are greatly appreciated, and where there is a lot of empathy for people who are homeless or have health and addiction issues. And it is a place where many people who experience human rights violations work for social justice.

“Developers and politicians are always telling residents what is needed in this community,” said Wendy Pedersen, a DTES resident and one of the co-authors. “With this report it’s the residents who are saying what’s good about the community and what needs to be preserved.”

The mapping report challenges the unproven theory that only neighbourhoods that include rich and poor can be healthy. “Mixing rich and poor is already creating a clash, rather than a mix in the DTES,” said Pedersen. “Some condo residents are already organizing to keep out services and housing that low income people need,”

“More condo development will increase land prices and taxes, pushing out stores that cater to low income people and increasing hotel rents. Upscale businesses exclude residents with prices and security guards,” added Pedersen.

Mapping participants were also asked about unsafe and uncomfortable places in the DTES. These included gentrifying places where people felt excluded, like condos, Gastown and Tinseltown. Mappers also said they feared violence from a number of sources including police, non-resident drinkers, security guards, predators and drug dealers.

The mapping project is one phase of CCAP’s process of working with low income residents to develop a vision, some principles and strategies for achieving a safe, secure, affordable, and authentic low income neighbourhood in the DTES.

More Information on the report: 604-729-2380; 604-839-0379

CCAP Town Hall Meeting

Learn about CCAP’s community mapping

project that involved 200 low-income

Downtown Eastside residents.

Report available here: http://ccapvancouver.wordpress.com/ccap-reports/

Time: Tuesday, Sept 22 10:30 a.m.

Place: Carnegie Theatre, 401 Main

Ø What are the good things about the DTES?

Ø How will condos and gentrification affect them?

Ø What can we do about it?

Sponsored by the

Carnegie Community Action Project

 

Bulletin #3

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For Immediate Release
(Sent to over 800 international media contacts)

Olympic spending more important than homeless shelters or health and safety for sex workers in 2010 Olympic city

June 20, 2009, Vancouver, BC, Canada:  Funding for homeless shelters in Vancouver, Canada is running out on June 30th and shelter staff have been given their termination notices.  Funding for a van that supplies clean needles, condoms, and information on violent customers for sex workers has been ended.  But the City of Vancouver just spent $1.3 million extra to operate its Olympic Village office, $15 million extra to restore a heritage building in the Olympic Village, and a total of $21.9 million to ensure that “time sensitive” projects for the coming 2010 Olympics are finished in time.

Meanwhile, VANOC, the Vancouver Olympic organizing corporation, is planning to spend an extra $8.3 million to make the Olympic opening and closing ceremonies fancier.

“Our governments’ priorities are completely backwards,” said Wendy Pedersen of the Carnegie Community Action Project in Vancouver’s poorest neighbourhood.  We need money now to save lives of homeless people and sex workers.  But our governments think the 2010 Olympic Games are more important than the lives of people living on the street.

BACKGROUND

Who are we?

Poverty Olympics Bulletins are brought to you by the Carnegie Community Action Project (CCAP), a project of the 5000 member Carnegie Community Centre Association in the heart of Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.  To read previous bulletins please go to CCAP’s blog.  For information about the real Olympics, the Poverty Olympics, check out www.povertyolympics.ca.

Canadian media coverage

Shelters to Shut Down
Vancouver Courier
June 19, 2009

Van that helps sex workers in Downtown Eastside to shut down after today
The Georgia Straight
June 12, 2009

‘Blank cheque’: Vancouver’s Olympic village gets another $21.9 million from city hall
The Vancouver Sun
June 18, 2009

Previous International Bulletins by CCAP

2009 Poverty Olympics provides hilarious and serious preview for Vancouver Olympics 2010

Poor protest Olympic “street sweeps” and ticketing in 2010 Olympic city

Sign Petition to Keep Shelters OPEN

PIVOT Legal Society Petition