Strathcona Residents Step Up Their Demands for Safe Housing for All

Following a lively early morning demonstration September 29, in which residents of Vancouver's Strathcona neighbourhood -- which includes a homeless camp in Strathcona Park -- lined the streets and carried signs through the crosswalks, the community is continuing to advocate for a solution to the housing crisis. There are currently over 300 people camped in the park.

An organizer of the demonstration, speaking to CTV News, made their aim clear: "Homeowners and renters and housed members of this community believe and want to fight for the rights of people who are unhoused in our community.... The camp has kept growing, the support services have not come along with it, and the politicians have continued to ignore it. Members who are staying in this park are not enemies of ours. People who are managing this camp are not enemies of ours. That is not the enemy. The enemy here is the politicians who aren't doing anything and seem to think it's just going to fade away."

Vancouver's housing crisis has being deepening for years and the pandemic has made things worse. The federal, provincial and municipal governments continue to 'study' the situation and accuse and blame one another, with no decisive action taken to solve the problem which will become even worse as winter approaches.

Besides the actions of the Strathcona Neighbourhood Movement which organized the September 29 demonstration, other community organizations are active in demanding housing for all. On its website the Strathcona Residents Association (SRA) notes that the provincial government is essentially shut down due to the election and that the federal government's Rapid Housing Initiative funds are months off at best, so the "ball is currently in the City's hands." In response to a report by city staff issued on October 2, Mayor Kennedy Stewart put forward a motion to allocate $30 million to purchase vacant apartment buildings, hotels and single room occupancy sites which the SRA points out will take months and do nothing to alleviate the immediate crisis. The SRA called on visitors to its website to apply to address  the October 8 city council meeting online and/or email city council to support a proposal from two councillors to convert the City's existing Winter Shelter sites into Disaster Relief/Navigation Centres as an immediate measure to provide safe housing before winter.

Residents are being encouraged to keep up the pressure on municipal, provincial and federal officials and for homeowners to join the tax resistance campaign by withholding property taxes to the City of Vancouver "by way of deferral, assessment appeal or other lawful means."

(Photos: TML)

This article was published in

Volume 50 Number 38 - October 10, 2020

Article Link:
Strathcona Residents Step Up Their Demands for Safe Housing for All - Roland Verrier


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