TODAY: Federal inaction on homelessness and the opioid crisis is a crime! DTES activists declare MPs’ offices a crime scene

October 15, 2019, Unceded Territories — Neglect, corruption, poisoning and homelessness – federal inaction in the Downtown Eastside is a crime! Today, activists will declare a federal crime scene at MPs’ offices to draw attention to criminally negligent inaction on housing, homelessness and the opioid crisis.

How do we house 2,223 homeless people (an undercount) when the National Housing Program doesn’t even start building affordable housing till after 2020 and will only deliver about 400 units per year in Vancouver? How can we respond to a poisoned drug supply and overdose crisis so extreme that life expectancy has dropped in the Downtown Eastside, and still no major party supports a safe drug supply?

Vancouver has become a crime scene. Wide-spread corruption involving politicians and developers has resulted in death, misery, and physical suffering for those living in this community. There is no accountability. $360 million ($1 million a day) is being spent on 260 organizations in the DTES a year.

Homelessness and housing unaffordability are two of the fastest growing issues in Vancouver. The opioid overdose epidemic is a crisis. What is the federal government doing to provide appropriate funding and support?  There is no question that the biggest impacts of these crises are felt in the Downtown Eastside.

Overdose deaths have been described as “deaths of despair” because they often accompany poverty and socio-economic disadvantage, including lack of housing. In 2018, the World Health Agency released its “Housing and Health Guidelines” and stated, “The quality of housing has major implications for people’s health…The scientific evidence on the many links between housing and health has grown substantially in recent decades.”

We declare the lack of action on housing and the opioid crisis a federal crime of negligence! According to the Criminal Code, 219 (1) Everyone is criminally negligent who, in doing anything, or in omitting to do anything that it is his duty to do, shows reckless disregard for the lives or safety of other persons.

“Why is that three levels of government keep turning a blind eye? It’s obvious now, the homelessness. It’s not because of drugs. They turn to drugs so they can cope on the streets. I was homeless for two years before I was housed. We have nothing to be thankful for.” — Erica Grant, housing advocate.  

WHAT: Federal government inaction is a crime: We declare a crime scene

WHEN:  Tuesday, October 15th
  2:30 pm – Jenny Kwan campaign office, 1985 E Hastings St,
  2:30 pm – Hedy Fry campaign office, 961 Denman Street

WHO: Our Homes Can’t Wait, Carnegie Community Action Project, Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users

“This election, a light is going to be shined on certain things, and we are that light. There’s a crime of disparity and a crime of humanity. We shine the light away from the lights of plenty.” – Jack Lazariuk, Carnegie Community Action Project.

Demands

·              Invest at least $2 billion per year in the construction of new social housing including $.5 billion for Vancouver (33 times more than we got for modular housing last year)

·              3,000 units of shelter rate/social housing immediately. Our priority is to house tenants who are on social assistance and pension rates, currently being priced out of their community by gentrification.

·              Federal funding to replace the more than 321 lost shelter-rate units at the Regent and the Balmoral

·              Federal funding to achieve 100% shelter-rate, community-controlled housing at 58 West Hastings. We need 100% welfare and pension rate housing at 58 West Hastings because 1200 homeless people and 3000 SRO residents live in the DTES without decent, affordable housing

·              Federal funding for modular housing NOW for 150 people living at the tent city at Oppenheimer Park

·              Dedicate most of the funding provided in the National Housing Strategy to social housing, especially to renovate private units in poor condition and convert them into cooperatives or non-profit housing;

·              Guarantee all necessary funding for renovating and modernizing existing social housing, as well as for keeping poor tenants’ rents at below 30% of their income.

·              Support the call for a safe supply and a safe clean source of opioids to end overdose deaths that disproportionally impact those affected by poverty, colonization, trauma and racism

·              An end to the war on drugs, criminalization and the prohibition of some drugs. The black market created by prohibition only creates more violence and intensity of competition

                Lack of housing is a crime! – Your Inaction is killing us! – End the war on drugs!

We acknowledge that this action is taking place on the unceded and stolen Indigenous lands of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), səl’ilwətaɁɬ (Tsleil-Waututh), and Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish) territories.

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Media contacts:

Fiona York 604-251-6164

Elli Taylor 236-858-8645

Aiyanas Ormond 604-315-8766

About Our Homes Can’t Wait Coalition

Our Homes Can’t Wait is a coalition of groups that want more social housing in the Downtown Eastside. The Our Homes Can’t Wait campaign and the community vision for 58 W Hastings has so far been endorsed by Carnegie Community Action Project, Carnegie Community Centre Association, Gallery Gachet, Alliance Against Displacement, Carnegie African Descent Group, Vancouver IWW, COSCO Council of Senior Citizens’ Organizations of B.C., Union Gospel Mission, Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users, WAHRS – Western Aboriginal Harm Reduction Society, First United – Vancouver Downtown Eastside, Pivot Legal Society, Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre, Downtown Eastside Neighbourhood House, Chinatown Concern Group 唐人街關注組, Chinatown Action Group 華埠行動小組, Aboriginal Front Door, and Downtown Eastside SRO Collaborative.


Fiona York
CCAP Coordinator and Administrator
fiona@carnegieaction.org | 604-665-2105 | Carnegie Community Centre, 401 Main Street, Vancouver, BC V6A 2T7 Unceded Coast Salish Territories

The Carnegie Community Action Project is a project of the board of the Carnegie Community Centre Association. CCAP works mostly on housing, income, and land use issues in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver so that the area can remain a low income friendly community.