Our Homes Can’t Wait is a campaign directed by Carnegie Community Action Project in the Downtown Eastside Neighbourhood of Vancouver. The campaign aims to build community power and influence city council to build low-income housing in a rapidly gentrifying neighbourhood.
SOLUTION #1: Build 10 sites of social housing at welfare shelter rates
This year saw record high homelessness in the Downtown Eastside, with 836 people living on the streets and in shelters. Despite the intensifying gentrification pressure and the worsening housing crisis, only a handful of new welfare rate social housing units will open in 2016. Most of these units are part of social mix developments, which contributes to gentrification and the loss of affordable SRO units.
To stem the tide of displacement and to end homelessness, we need at least 10 sites of social housing with about 100 to 150 units on each site. There are at least six sites in the Downtown Eastside that the City already owns and would be suitable for social housing. The City should use other city owned sites for the remaining four buildings or purchase new sites in the Downtown Eastside to meet the urgent need for housing.
SOLUTION #2: Save and improve SRO Hotels
We are rapidly losing affordable SRO units – the last stop before homelessness – as gentrification continues to push up rents. In the Downtown Eastside alone, over 300 affordable SRO rooms were lost in 2014. With new condos opening up across the Downtown Eastside we expect to lose hundreds more SRO units in the coming years. The existing SRO are inadequate, poorly maintained, bedbug, cockroach and rat infested. We need immediate action to protect SRO’s, bring them up to livable standards and make sure people on welfare can afford the rents.
SOLUTION #3: Rent control and rent freeze now!
Low-income people across the city and province are continuously evicted and displaced by rising rents, renovictions and demolitions of existing affordable housing. We need stronger protection of all existing affordable housing. We need to tie rent to the unit, instead of the tenant, that way landlords can’t increase rents between tenancies. We also need a rent freeze until welfare, pensions and minimum wages are increased a lot.
First Priority: 100% welfare rate housing at 58 W. Hastings
People at the two town hall meetings in January wanted to concentrate on one major goal in the campaign at first. This goal is to get 100% welfare rate housing at the city-owned site at 58 W. Hastings.