Community rejects the city’s plan for 58 West Hastings, paints their own vision

We need more social housing at welfare & pension rents and we need it at 58 W. Hastings. That was the message from about 200 Downtown Eastside residents and friends at a Paint-in held on May 21 at the community garden across from Army Navy on Hastings St.

Our Homes Can’t Wait organized the community paint-in, which featured Chinese steam buns and bannock, music by the Carnival band and speeches by local residents who painted the wall of the Portland Hotel which faces the garden.

“Social housing here, now,” one person painted. “End violence against women in Sahota Hotels,” and “House the homeless rst” were some of the other messages on the wall. “Are they [the government] going to meet the needs of the community or not,” asked Wilson Liang, a DTES resident and one of the speakers. “They know what the needs are.”

“Government owns this land,” said Martin Steward of the Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users (VANDU). “We need a ordable housing for everybody, housing to support people who have low incomes.”

Gilles Cyreene of the CCAP explained that we have virtually a “zero vacancy rate and landlords giggling all the way to the golf course” while low income people “anticipate moving to cardboard boxes.”

The Paint-in was part of the Our Homes Can’t Wait campaign, which has already been endorsed by groups representing over 100,000 people. The Campaign calls for governments to build 100% welfare/pension rate housing on 10 city owned sites in the DTES, a rent freeze, preserving and improv- ing the SROs until needed social housing is built, and putting the community vision for housing at 58 W. Hastings in place.

Thanks to the Carnival Band, Culture Saves Lives (for letting us use the wall), and to ev- eryone who came out to send the message that we need more social housing at shelter rate!