Carnegie Community Action Project (CCAP) Newsletter – Aug 1

Coast Salish Territories                                               Aug 1, 2011

DTES community works 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 House
28. 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

We’ve had a mini victory!

It’s day 27 since we shut down the unsafe demolition site at the Pantages. Thanks to the DTES Neighbourhood Council and CCAP, inspectors ordered the owner to put up mesh to protect residents of the Regent and Brandiz from contaminated dust, to put in better hoarding to protect pedestrians and to implement better safety equipment and procedures for the workers. The owner’s disregard for the safety of our community does not bode well for the future. Every day that goes by without demolition is one step closer to winning 100% social housing at that site.

Campaign for 100% social housing at Pantages site is growing!

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 above on this post.

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

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.

Stop condo project say DTES residents

For Immediate Release to all media:
(Vancouver Coast Salish Territory)

Stop condos in the Downtown Eastside (DTES) until we have decent housing for the low income residents who live there now. That was the message that low-income DTES residents and their supporters brought to Studio One Architects today at 11 am.

“Housing first for the people who need it,” said Anne Marie Monks, social housing resident who was recently homeless and board member of the DTES Neighbourhood Council. “The rich can buy somewhere else. They can go up to Whistler. DTES belongs to the people.”

“I only know one person who lives in a condo and she lives in Winnipeg. Their world is totally different than mine. We need social housing here, not condos,” said Sandra Pronteau, another social housing resident and member of the Carnegie Community Action Project.

Studio One Architects has submitted a development proposal to the city for 79 condos, 18 more condos that would be sold to a non-profit group, and commercial space on the bottom floor. The development would be at 138 E. Hastings, bringing gentrification to the heart of the DTES.

Forty (40) groups support a community resolution calling on the Pantages developer to sell his lots at this site to the city for the 2010 assessed value of $3.7 million. The resolution calls for 100% community controlled social housing at the Pantages site. Over 1100 additional people have signed a petition calling on the owner to sell the Pantages site to the city for the 2010 assessed value. At the action today DTES residents and groups called on the architects to withdraw their proposed development.

“Condos displace low income residents by pushing up land values and hotel rents,” said Fraser Stuart, SRO resident who was recently homeless and board member of the DTES Neighbourhood Council. “The city has promised that low income residents won’t be displaced but they are ignoring that promise. We still have hundreds of homeless people in our neighbourhood, and 5000 SROs that need to be replaced with decent housing low income people can afford.”

“We have a right and a responsibility to protect our neighbourhood from changing into a rich neighbourhood. Most people don’t know what is happening at these demolition sites and by the time they do, it will be too late,” said Kim Pacquette, social housing resident and member of the Carnegie Community Action Project.

Dave Diewert of the interfaith social justice group Streams of Justice said: “The utter disregard for the health and safety of workers, adjacent residents and pedestrians during demolition, and the architects’ poor-bashing rhetoric of social mix that accompanied the visual of Sequel 138 on their website, reveal the developer’s distain and contempt for the current residents of this community, and confirms the conviction that the project will only bring harm not benefit to the neighbourhood.”

“We have already stopped the demolition at the site,” said Beatrice Starr, of the Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre Power of Women. This community will use whatever ways we can to stop this project. It won’t be easy for the developer to put condos here.”

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.

This task force wouldn’t have happened without the work of CCAP and residents of the Wonder and Palace Hotels who, at a previous council meeting, spoke out at council and launched a class action suit against the landlords.