City staff agree with CCAP report, but actions lacking

Vancouver city staff agrees with “many of the conclusions” of the Carnegie Community Action Project’s (CCAP) third annual hotel report, Pushed Out.

Brenda Prosken is the deputy general manager of the community services group at City Hall. She wrote a letter to CCAP organizer Wendy Pedersen. The letter says, “The preliminary results from our own survey of the low income stock reveal similar findings, including a steady increase in rents in the SROs and loss of units renting at welfare rates.”

CCAP’s report says that only 12% of the privately owned hotel rooms it surveyed rent for $375 or less, the welfare and disability shelter rate.

Prosken also said, “(W)e share your concern that no new housing is planned for after 2013.” “We agree that without replacement, continued loss of an aging SRO stock, together with rent increases, may lead to increased homelessness,” Prosken added.

Prosken also said, “We continue to review opportunities for site purchases in the DTES as a first step towards continued replacement of SROs.”

But Wendy Pedersen, CCAP organizer and co-author of Pushed Out, says the city needs to buy more lots in the Downtown Eastside now: “The city should buy at least five lots a year for the next ten years. If the city has lots, it will make it a lot easier to lobby for federal and provincial funds to build the housing,” she said. “Unfortunately, even though the staff say they want to buy land for housing in the DTES, City Council isn’t doing it.” Pedersen said new social housing for low income DTES residents is key to protecting the homes of low income people in the DTES and the good things about the community for low income people.

At an Oct. 20th meeting with City Hall staff who work in the DTES, CCAP presented a list of properties that the city could buy for social housing. But David McLellan, the manager of the community services group, said, “The cupboard is bare because of the Olympic Village.” “It’s still a high priority to keep an inventory of land in all neighbourhoods.”

“That means the city is still focusing on spreading DTES residents throughout the city, not on buying land in the DTES,” said Pedersen. McLellan did admit at the meeting that, “The need (for social housing) is stronger than what’s been provided.”

Pedersen says CCAP and other DTES groups will keep up the pressure on the city to acquire land for social housing.

Pick up a copy of CCAP’s hotel report, Pushed Out, in the CCAP office on the second floor of Carnegie.