CCAP’s take on the city’s 10 year Housing and Homelessness Strategy

The city passed the strategy without amendments on Thursday, July 28th.

Here is a link to the city’s strategy:

http://vancouver.ca/ctyclerk/cclerk/20110726/documents/rr1complete.pdf

CCAP wrote and spoke to council.  We asked for 2 amendments.  This is what we said:

1) That the city lobbies senior governments fiercely for a national housing strategy that builds at least 20,000 units of social housing a year across the country; and that:

2) The city purchase at least 10 lots a year for social housing for low income people in the DTES so that SROs can be replaced in less than 40 or 50 years.

Rationale for the 1st amendment:

- there is no strong statement in this report about the need for senior governments to get back into building social housing for people who are poor

- 26.6 % of Vancouver residents are living under the Low-income cut off (LICO) line and need deep core social housing.

- about 70% of DTES residents are living under LICO.  Most have $1200 a month or less income.  That means they only have $375 a month to pay for rent.

The city’s strategy calls for 800 social housing units a year for 10 years is not too bad….but will these really be for low-income people?  The so called “social housing” at the Remand is renting for $750 a month.  That means you need $2,200 income a month to live there and not be in core need.   Some of the ”social housing” at Woodwards for families is $1599 a month. If the city is going to build 800 units a year for those with income at $1200 or less a month, then the city will need a major campaign to get money from the feds for this.

Instead there is a tone of resignation in this report.  There are references to P3s as a way to fund housing. How is the market going to deliver the amount of housing we need?  Get a grip!  If Vancouver doesn’t do this for us, we’ll never get the feds back into building public housing.

Rationale for the 2nd amendment:

It is very important that the city use sthis opportunity to change this report to include replacement of 5000 units of social housing for people who make $1200 a month or less in the DTES within 5 years and work on a campaign to get senior governments to contribute to that in addition to the 800 units a year across the city.  Other speakers from CCAP here today who live in hotels will tell you how horrible it is to live in these hell holes.

It’s good you are finally admitting that rent increases and conversions of SRO hotels are a problem – this is the first in four years that CCAP hasn’t had to spend time explaining this.  BUT, you are condemning DTES residents to 100 units a year of SRO replacement.  That means it will take around 50 years to replace our hotels.  The DTES will be stay tectonic until our housing is replaced.  It is unfair that condos are encouraged and our housing has to wait.  Condos, including so called affordable condos, cause higher land values, more speculation and rent increases in the hotels plus conversions.  Plus condos take up valuable space that could be used for social housing. Condos are outpacing social housing for people whose income is $1200 a month at a rate of 11:1.  DTES Housing Plan says seven times that condos and social housing should proceed apace. The rate of change is out of whack.

In conclusion: We’re not seeing this council’s commitment to replacing the SRO’s in the DTES.  This report does is pretty status quo in terms of the hotels.

This is your chance to make an amendment and a commitment to the 5000 people who are condemned to living in single rooms, most of them hell holes, at prices they cannot afford.  Tell them they are worth it.  Work to replace their housing in their community.

Write a letter to stop Birmingham & Wood condos in Chinatown

Oh geez, here we go, the first condo project to come forward as a result of the city’s decision to increase the height in Chinatown.  This one with zero social housing, what a surprise.  The city approved a new “outright” height increase for Chinatown so no developers can build up to 9 stories here without a public hearing.  All condo projects in the DTES are contentious and deserve a hearing or should be stopped until the social housing needs of the low-income community are met.  Please write a letter to the city protesting this development.  The city needs to recognize that this proposal is contentious or it will be automatically approved by the Director of Planning:

219 East Georgia Street

DP application No:  DEDE414728

Birmingham and Wood Architects (http://www.bwarc.ca/contacts.html)

9 storeys

28 units

City wants comments before September 1, 2011.

Send comments to:

mandy.so@vancouver.ca, brent.toderian@vancouver.ca, mayorandcouncil@vancouver.ca

jburton@bwarc.ca (architect)

Phone city for more info:  Mandy 604-871-6080 or Tony 604-873-7783

Points you could make:

  • more condos will cause gentrification, pushing up rents in neighbouring SROs and pushing low income residents out;
  • more condos encourage upscale business where low income residents are excluded by price and security guards;
  • it is inappropriate to allow more condos in the neighbourhood before a local area plan and social impact study have been   completed;
  • this development won’t improve anything for the low income community

Letter against Sequel 138 condos

http://www.canada.com/vancouversun/news/westcoastnews/story.html?id=c683845f-3c70-4108-939c-d3bae910af62

Paul Taylor, Carnegie Newsletter editor wrote this letter to the Sun in response to the Sequel 138 condos planned for the 100 block.  Many are up in arms over this.

Consider writing a letter too:  You can email your letter (maximum 200 words) to sunletters@png.canwest.com

Editor:    Skin deep and people say, “Look: they’re building social housing in the downtown eastside.”    It reads as though it’s a done deal; could go ahead as soon as November; a dead zone for a new crowd of artistic pioneers and staff at not-for-profits to begin again from the ground up… and the most idiotic plan of the developer is to sell 18 condos to a local non-profit.

The block is home to over 400 individuals who have to live in 100 sq ft rooms, share a bathroom with 60 others and exist on less than $600 a month.

It houses the Carnegie Community Centre and Insite, North America’s only supervised injection facility.

The lowest price of $227,000 is impossible for 95% of current residents, and will only lead to another zone of exclusion in the neighbourhood and increased homelessness as neighbouring buildings raise rents.

The poor-bashing denies the humanity and worth of current residents and proposes the automatic fix of bringing wealthier people to show these scum how good people live.

Balanced reporting is integral to journalism. This kind of classist bias isn’t worthy of a garbage can.

Pantages has to be 100% social housing and local residents need safe, affordable, decent housing before any more wealthy people even think about moving here.

PaulR  Taylor

Editor Carnegie Newsletter

 

City Council sets up Task Force on SRO Maintenance

On July 14 City Council voted to set up a Task Force on maintenance standards in hotels.  The motion came two weeks after the Carnegie Community Action Project, DTES Neighbourhood Council, VANDU and tenants of the Wonder and Palace Hotels spoke to council about deplorable conditions in those two buildings and others.

At the Council meeting DNC volunteer Richard Marquez, who has been helping Wonder tenants find decent housing, spoke about the Code Enforcement Outreach Program in San Francisco.  With that program hotel tenants get stipends to work with community groups and city property use inspectors to keep building maintenance standards up to par.

Al Fowler, a former Wonder Rooms tenant, told Council that tenants should be on the Task Force and about how hard it is to find an affordable place to stay.

Jean Swanson of CCAP put forward recommendations of the DNC, CCAP and VANDU that the Task Force should include these groups:  Power of Women, DNC, VANDU, CCAP, Western Aboriginal Harm Reduction, TRAC, Aboriginal Front Door, Pivot,

Native Health, and SRO tenants.  She also said that it should recommend procedures, policies and bylaws the city will implement to upgrade living standards in SROs.  Councillor Ellen Woodsworth amended the motion to include these points and they were accepted.

So….soon we should have a Task Force on SRO maintenance and maybe it could have some good results.

Council also passed another resolution on the same day to set up a working group with a number of professional groups and “other stakeholders” to address alleged abuses at the Wonder and Palace Hotels.

Vivienne  Bessette of VANDU told Council that the methadone treatment system has failed because no consumer groups have been there to talk about the abuses.  “If the [working group] doesn’t include users it could do more harm than good.”  She added, “VANDU is expert in addictions.  Doctors are not always experts in addiction.”

Charlie Boyle of the BC Association of People on Methadone also argued that methadone users should be included in the methadone working group.

Dave Murray said there were 2000 Downtown Eastside residents on methadone and 11,000 in the province.  He said that VANDU and BC APOM have to be on the working group.  This time, however, the motion was not changed to add in the two groups.  Although Councillor Kerry Jang said in his remarks that they would be consulted.  So, the city is now going to have a working group on methadone maintenance abuses that is dominated by professionals and where user groups will hopefully be consulted. ~js

This task force wouldn’t have happened without the work of Ivan Drury of CCAP, volunteers like Richard Marquez and residents of the Wonder and Palace Hotels who, at a previous council meeting, spoke out at council despite threat of eviction and launched a class action suit against the landlords.

Write a letter against Sequel 138 condos at Pantages

So far 40 groups have signed a community resolution calling for 100% social housing and no condos at 138 E. Hastings.  See the list of the groups on page 1 of this newsletter.  These are the groups that are organizing the campaign for 100% social housing:  Aboriginal Front Door, Carnegie Community Action Project, DTES Neighbourhood Council, DTES Power of Women Group, Gallery Gachet, Streams of Justice, Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users.

Worthington Properties has proposed to build 79 condos and 18 social housing units at the site.  They want the bottom floor to be an art space run by a group that includes David Duprey who is involved with the Rickshaw.

The Director of Planning may try to ok the project as soon as August or September.  But planners have told the Carnegie Action Project that if the project is “contentious,” it may go to the appointed Development Permit Board instead.  This would take a bit longer and the Development Permit Board hears members of the public.

So far the actions taken to preserve the site for 100% social housing include painting the building with the community’s vision for the site, shutting down the demolition of the buildings on the site because it was being done unsafely, forming a coalition to organize the campaign, getting groups to endorse the community resolution to stop the condos and build 100% social housing, and getting petitions signed by neighbourhood residents (so far about 1200 signatures have been collected).

The coalition also organized a news conference with about 40 supporters at the office of Studio One architects, the architect for the condo project.

Right now the coalition is urging everyone concerned to email

alice.kwan@vancouver.ca, brent.toderian@vancouver.ca, scott.barker@vancouver.ca and mayorandcouncil@vancouver.ca .

Writing the letter is simple and only takes a few minutes!
- State your firm opposition to the developer’s proposal for 79 condos at
138 E. Hastings.
- State the low income community in the DTES is against this project and
condo development
- List some of the reasons for opposition, for example:                   

  • People in the DTES need social housing and can’t afford condos;
  • Condos cause gentrification which pushes up rents in hotels and brings in businesses that exclude low income residents with high prices and security guards
  • Condos in the 100 block of E. Hastings are especially bad because nearly 400 SRO residents live in that block and could be pushed out if gentrification pushes up their rents;
  • Building more social housing as well as defending and preserving our DTES community are more important – and more life saving – than letting developers make millions in the DTES.

For more information, check out this website:

 http://dtesnotfordevelopers.wordpress.com/aboutpantages/

More actions are planned for August and September. ~js

40 groups endorse campaign to stop condos at Pantages and to get 100% social housing

These groups have endorsed the community resolution calling for 100% social housing at the Pantages site:

Coalition organizers:

Aboriginal Front Door
Carnegie Community Action Project 
DTES Neighbourhood Council
DTES Power of Women Group 
Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users
Gallery Gachet
Streams of Justice
 
Endorsers:
1. Indigenous Action Movement
2. Latin-American Collective – Vancouver
3. ACCESS (Association of Chinese Canadians for Equality and Solidarity Society)
4. Harmony of Nations Drum Group
5. Longhouse Ministry Church
6. PHS Community Services Society
7. Lookout Emergency Aid Society
8. Citywide Housing Coalition
9. Purple Thistle
10. Pivot Legal Society
11. Vancouver Catholic Worker
12. Teaching Support Staff Union Social Justice Committee
13. Mosaic @ the Space
14. DTES Neighbourhood Helpers Project
15. Council of Senior Citizens Organization of BC
16. First United Church
17. Oppenheimer Park Ladies Tea Party
18. Vancouver Rape Relief & Women’s Shelter
19. Vancouver Transgender Day of Remembrance Society
20. Spartacus Books
21. Carnegie Community Centre Association
22. Interfaith Institute for Justice, Peace and Social Movements
23. Women Elders In Action Society
24. Vancouver Action
25. St. James’ Anglican Church Social Justice Group
26. End Prohibition Committee
27. DTES Neighbourhood House28. Jacob’s Well
29. PACE Society
30. Impact on Communities Coalition
31. Jen’s Kitchen
32. Western Aboriginal Harm Reduction Society
33. Solidarity Notes Labour Choir