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.
- 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.
- 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.
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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.