Housing Justice Forum packs the house

Last Friday, about 150-200 crammed into the Women’s Centre (DEWC) to hear Carol Martin, Nisga’a Nation & Victim Services at DEWC, Anne Marie Monks and Kayla from Power of Women, Jean Swanson from CCAP and Nick Blomley from SFU talk about housing Justice.  If you didn’t go, here is a summary of what was said.

After an opening ceremony by Rita Blind of the Elders Council, Jean spoke about the need to build homes in the DTES to replace 5000 temporary rooms and for 1000 homeless people in the area.  She talked about the policy changes and then said “it doesn’t look good but we have 100 years of struggle and successes that we can take some inspiration from.  We are more united than ever before on needing housing, incomes and better services.”

Carol said “Governments are making us choose whether you are going to get fed or put a roof over your head.”  She told us about waking up and finding herself homeless because of the way her own people manage their housing.  She inspired us by saying we need to think about one big thing that we can all do together.

Anne Marie, elder and originally from Germany, told us about how she was assaulted, went into a coma and eventually became homeless, “but I’m still here and I’m starting to fight back…I found my voice thanks to the Women’s Centre.  She made everyone laugh when she said Sullivan was too scared to spend 1 day in her shoes.  This referred to the Power of Women’s suggestion to mayor and council that they do a housing swap with women at the centre. (It got national attention!)

Kayla told us that 30% of the DTES population is indigenous and struggling because of broken promises made to them.  She said we need to open our eyes and raise our voices because so many are falling through the cracks.

The last speaker, Nick, said developers lay claim to the DTES by saying “there is nobody living in the DTES.”  The Coast Salish, after 10,000 years of use, were displaced through similar forces expelling residents now.

Lots of good questions followed.  Thanks to the Power of Women for organizing this great event.