The homelessness situation in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside is out of control mostly because people do not have their basic needs met. Here is a brief rundown of recent events:

  • Two SRO hotels (Vogue and Lucky Lodge) evicted their long term vulnerable residents
  • Fires have made at least four SRO hotels uninhabitable, and two people were killed in one fire
  • Hundreds of people are tenting on Hastings St. without basic sanitation and washrooms, and promised washrooms haven't materialized
  • A leaflet was distributed, threatening to torch all the tents and their residents as well as Insite
  • Tensions are rising between housed and unhoused residents
  • The city is threatening to make the tenters on Hastings move to nowhere

COPE is calling for immediate short, medium and long term actions to deal with this multi-level crisis.

In the short term:

  • Immediately provide washrooms for tenters on the street.
  • Close off some side streets and/or find a space like a parking lot where people who are tenting on Hastings can go and be, and where we can provide washrooms, water, electricity and basic sanitation, overdose prevention and cultural programming. 
  • Fund peers to organize and maintain these safer places.
  • Provide real safe supply that anyone who uses street drugs can access so they don't die.

Medium term:

  • All three levels of government start acquiring hotels and/or any empty apartment buildings that can be offered immediately to unhoused people for dignified housing. 
  • If none or insufficient numbers are for sale, immediately acquire a site or sites for tiny house villages, and either buy or build tiny houses for unsheltered people so they can at least be dry and have a door to lock by winter. Provincial and federal governments should pay for this but if they won't the City should.

Long term:

  • Plan for thousands of new units of dignified new housing, with a timeline for when we will actually have enough so no one has to be unhoused. Senior government should pay for this with the City providing the land. 
  • The province needs to raise welfare and disability rates to meet the real cost of living.

Read COPE's full statement here.

We, the undersigned, call on all levels of government to take these immediate short, medium and long term actions to deal with the multi-level homelessness crisis in the Downtown Eastside and across Vancouver.

335 signatures so far. Help us get to 500