CCAP’s take on the city’s 10 year Housing and Homelessness Strategy

The city passed the strategy without amendments on Thursday, July 28th.

Here is a link to the city’s strategy:

CCAP wrote and spoke to council.  We asked for 2 amendments.  This is what we said:

1) That the city lobbies senior governments fiercely for a national housing strategy that builds at least 20,000 units of social housing a year across the country; and that:

2) The city purchase at least 10 lots a year for social housing for low income people in the DTES so that SROs can be replaced in less than 40 or 50 years.

Rationale for the 1st amendment:

– there is no strong statement in this report about the need for senior governments to get back into building social housing for people who are poor

– 26.6 % of Vancouver residents are living under the Low-income cut off (LICO) line and need deep core social housing.

– about 70% of DTES residents are living under LICO.  Most have $1200 a month or less income.  That means they only have $375 a month to pay for rent.

The city’s strategy calls for 800 social housing units a year for 10 years is not too bad….but will these really be for low-income people?  The so called “social housing” at the Remand is renting for $750 a month.  That means you need $2,200 income a month to live there and not be in core need.   Some of the ”social housing” at Woodwards for families is $1599 a month. If the city is going to build 800 units a year for those with income at $1200 or less a month, then the city will need a major campaign to get money from the feds for this.

Instead there is a tone of resignation in this report.  There are references to P3s as a way to fund housing. How is the market going to deliver the amount of housing we need?  Get a grip!  If Vancouver doesn’t do this for us, we’ll never get the feds back into building public housing.

Rationale for the 2nd amendment:

It is very important that the city use sthis opportunity to change this report to include replacement of 5000 units of social housing for people who make $1200 a month or less in the DTES within 5 years and work on a campaign to get senior governments to contribute to that in addition to the 800 units a year across the city.  Other speakers from CCAP here today who live in hotels will tell you how horrible it is to live in these hell holes.

It’s good you are finally admitting that rent increases and conversions of SRO hotels are a problem – this is the first in four years that CCAP hasn’t had to spend time explaining this.  BUT, you are condemning DTES residents to 100 units a year of SRO replacement.  That means it will take around 50 years to replace our hotels.  The DTES will be stay tectonic until our housing is replaced.  It is unfair that condos are encouraged and our housing has to wait.  Condos, including so called affordable condos, cause higher land values, more speculation and rent increases in the hotels plus conversions.  Plus condos take up valuable space that could be used for social housing. Condos are outpacing social housing for people whose income is $1200 a month at a rate of 11:1.  DTES Housing Plan says seven times that condos and social housing should proceed apace. The rate of change is out of whack.

In conclusion: We’re not seeing this council’s commitment to replacing the SRO’s in the DTES.  This report does is pretty status quo in terms of the hotels.

This is your chance to make an amendment and a commitment to the 5000 people who are condemned to living in single rooms, most of them hell holes, at prices they cannot afford.  Tell them they are worth it.  Work to replace their housing in their community.