CCAP’s response to Vancouver Sun Op-Ed on cooperation and homelessness in the DTES

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CCAP’s Response

Dear Sir:  Re:  “Lack of cooperation means homelessness likely to persist”.  

Gregor Robertson, Rich Coleman, and the social agencies could smother each other in kisses and compliments and we’d still have a homeless crisis. While it’s hard to knock co-operation, what we really need is money and policy change.
We need money to raise welfare rates so people have more than $375 to pay for rent and more than $235 for everything else.  Who do you know who rents a decent place for $375?
We need money for social housing.  With over 10,000 people on the BC Housing wait list, all the co-operation in the world can’t squeeze people into units that don’t exist.  While the public thinks that a lot of social housing is being built, it is mostly the same old units being announced, re-announced and then bragged about. Only about 150 units a year for the whole province are planned over the next 5 years, not nearly enough to get homeless people off the streets.  The province doesn’t need to go into debt to do this.  It could raise taxes on the 1% and other upper income earners to the level they were in the early 2000s.

We also need the Residential Tenancy Act changed so landlords can’t raise rents as much as they like when people leave.  In a tight rental market like Vancouver’s, this is an incentive for them to evict and even pay people to leave.  And we need the city to slow down the gentrification that is pushing up property values and rents, making it impossible for people to afford to live in the city. These policy changes wouldn’t cost taxpayers anything.

I remember when we had almost no homelessness in Vancouver and it was when welfare had a lot more purchasing power and governments were building almost 800 units a year of social housing in the city alone. So its not impossible and it wouldn’t require a communist plot to end homelessness.