By Darren Fleet
Government and advocacy organizations went head to head on housing issues during Homelessness Action Week, Oct. 15 to Oct. 21. Below are three major events that took place during the week.
* The provincial government were first to weight in, announcing Oct. 12 that it would spend an additional $41 million on housing initiatives.
“Today’s announcement is a significant step forward,” said Vancouver City Councillor Kim Capri about the initiatives via the City’s official website.
The funding will go toward 24-hour shelter beds, increased outreach services, increased rental subsidies and a fast track zoning plan for city land to be developed for housing.
* The Anti-Poverty Committee (APC) planned to squat in a building in Burns block of the Downtown Eastside Oct. 14. Their plans were thwarted when police arrested six APC associates the night before and guarded other potential buildings in the area. Two hundred protesters marched to the city jail to protest the arrests. Police headquarters were locked down with chains during regular hours in advance of the march. More than 50 officers monitored the procession.
“We’re not fighting for inches,” said APC leader David Cunningham, “We’re fighting for housing.”
* A tent city, organized by Streams of Justice, was set up Oct. 15 at 950 Main St. in a vacant site slated for social housing over five years ago. Rain and foul weather battered the 15-person settlement all week long.
“We want to see tent cities legalized. If you cannot build us housing, give us a park,” Rose Henry, a one time homeless person, told UN representative Miloon Kothari.
Police arrived at the tent city early that morning but let the group stay pending a court decision. The tent city was taken down voluntarily Oct. 21 at the end of Homelessness Action Week.
Pivot Legal Society has launched a constitutional challenge to Vancouver City by-laws banning unauthorized use of city property.
Take the Homelessness Action week quiz: How much do you know about homelessness?