Jean Swanson

Articles by Jean Swanson

Why we have homelessness

You have to be old to remember this: we didn’t always have a lot of homelessness in Canada. (…)

The BC Liberal new-normal – A brief history of how we got in this mess

with Ivan Drury

In the two decades after World War 2, Canada and the United States, alongside Britain and other Western European countries, drew in enormous wealth from the profits and power from winning that war. (…)

Will fixed term leases erase 40 years of tenant organizing in the Downtown Eastside?

A boisterous crew was standing outside the Ross Hotel in Vancouver on New Years Day. (…)

Provincial housing money a drop in the bucket

The BC government says it’s the “largest single-year housing investment by any province in Canada,”  $500 million for about 2,900 housing units across BC. (…)

SWANSON - News conference outside Ross House organized by CCAPRoss House tenants fight evictions, rent increases

with Maria Wallstam

“The manager bullied me and said “sign or you leave,” Humberto Macias-Carracas told people at a news conference in front of the Ross House on Alexander St. on New Year’s day. (…)

ourhomescantwait_2Homes for All – Our Homes Can’t Wait (OHCW) Campaign Works for DTES Housing

So here’s the situation: Almost 1,000 homeless people have been counted in the Downtown Eastside (DTES) of Vancouver. (…)

sro-cartoon-dont-use-artist-name-under-the-cartoon-2Tenacious tenant undeterred by lack of enforcement action at Regent Hotel

The plot thickens at Vancouver’s notorious Regent Hotel. (…)

Homeless graphicFederal and provincial pittances respond to highest homeless count ever

ARGH!  Vancouver has the highest ever homeless count and no one with power seems to think it’s a problem!  It’s a problem that people who “don’t have a million” can’t afford to buy a house in Vancouver.  But people who are homeless?  (…)

fightforhousingRent Supplements Subsidize Landlords

How can governments maintain the scarcity of housing, keep renters in crisis, and subsidize people who don’t need subsidies with one simple program? The answer? Spend $750 million on rent supplements over the last 7 years. (…)

MCNAUGHT - gain comic0001Guaranteed Annual Income – the good, the bad, and the ugly

Imagine you’re a person with disabilities living on the BC welfare rate of $610 a month, paying $500 for rent. You get a part time job, earn $200, and declare it. This is completely legal, but then your welfare cheque stops for no reason. (…)

trickleFederal Budget Dashes Housing Hopes

A lot of people had high hopes for housing in the federal budget that was delivered on March 22.  The City of Vancouver asked for half a billion dollars to build housing on 20 city-owned lots. What did we get? (…)

2015hotelreport-1 copyVancouver’s Downtown Eastside could become condo heaven with homeless on the streets

A new report from the Carnegie Community Action Project (CCAP) says Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside (DTES) could become an area full of condos and market rental apartments with homeless people blanketing the streets unless all three levels of government take immediate action. (…)

morrison_city-hall-pantages-copyPeople at Downtown Eastside Town Hall meeting strategize to stop homeless crisis

A National Housing Crisis day, tent cities across the country, and identifying and working to get specific sites for social housing were all suggested as things we can do together to try to force the three levels of government to stop increasing homelessness. (…)

lionhotel“Our work is a warning to other landlords” – Tenants fight to improve living conditions in SROs

Mohammad Valayati doesn’t want the same thing to happen to the residents of the Lion Hotel that happened at the Clifton. (…)

Memorial March Committee news conference, January 12, 2016. L-R: Mabel Nipshank, Fay Blaney, Myrna Cranmer, Carol Martin, Junanita Desjarlais

Indigenous women want Federal Inquiry to consult with feminist groups as well as families

Indigenous women who have been organizing to end violence for decades want the federal inquiry into missing and murdered women to consult with feminist groups that work with Indigenous women as well as families of the missing and murdered women. (…)

srorallyVancouver homelessness forecast for 2016

with Maria Wallstam

Homelessness in Vancouver could increase by hundreds next year unless all levels of government act now. (…)

sra-bylaw_clifton-hotel-protest_greyVancouver’s new hotel bylaw – salvation or smokescreen?

Did Vancouver City Council make changes to its SRO hotel room bylaw that will help stop renovictions? Or did the July changes actually take away powers that the city could have used to prevent renovictions and rent increases? (…)

gachet-copyA Tale of Two Art Galleries

One costs $20 to get in. The other is free. One is backed by the rich. The other is revered by low-income Downtown Eastside (DTES) residents. (…)

pg5_bureaucraticlanguage_cov_greyBureaucratic language hides what’s really happening

Bureaucratic language hides what is really happening from ordinary people and often makes situations look way better than they are. (…)

sro_actionSRO renovictions break up communities

“I feel incredible. I’m very happy.” That’s what Mohammad Valayati told people at a news conference on June 19. (…)

Prime Minister Stephen Harper smiles during a question and answer period following a luncheon speech Friday, November 15, 2013 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson

Housing First or Housing Farce?

The federal government’s idea of Housing First is to subsidize landlords, not build housing for homeless people. (…)

pg16_traceymorrison_grey“We are human beings with heart and potential” – A message from Indigenous drug users to the medical profession

Interview with Tracey Morrison

The Volcano interviewed Tracey Morrison, President of Western Aboriginal Harm Reduction Society in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside neighbourhood. WAHRS is a group of current and former illicit drug and/or alcohol users. (…)

bc-housing-selloff_coleman_greyWill junking public ownership of BC Housing make things better for low income people?

with Harold Lavender

The BC Government is selling about 350 parcels of land and 9 public housing buildings that it owns and operates. (…)

srabylaw_clifton-hotel_24hourspic_greyOne last chance to save the SRO Hotels

with DJ Larkin

Vancouver’s Single Room Accommodation (SRA) Bylaw has been in place for over 11 years and has proven ineffective at protecting affordable housing. (…)

welfare-phone_grey1-866 YOU LOSE – Welfare puts people on hold

I’m imagining a discussion happening in the BC government between Premier Christy Clark and Social Development Minister Michelle Stilwell: (…)

oppenheimer-copyHomelessness is Still a Huge Problem

The homeless count for this year was the highest it’s ever been: 1803 homeless people in Vancouver, and 2,777 in the Metro Vancouver area. (…)

outhoodourplanDTES Local Area Plan – What did we get? What did we lose?

with Harold Lavender

Vancouver has approved the DTES Local Area Plan. What will be its positive and negative effects? Was it worth the three-year effort put in by low-income reps to work with the City? (…)

homelesscampfirstunitedandgoreNo new social housing from the Province – 3 community views

with Harold Lavender and Andrea Craddock

We need 10,000 units of social housing a year and this spring Rich Coleman, the guy in charge of BC’s social housing, says, “We don’t build ‘social housing’ any more.” (…)

dtes-base-map-1How a definition can displace a community – defining ‘social housing’ in the DTES planning process

On March 12th we need to go to city council and fight for a definition of social housing. (…)

victoria-copyWe want an Aboriginal Healing and Wellness Centre…. Now!

Many members of the Downtown Eastside Local Area Planning Committee are calling for the City and Vancouver Coastal Health to build an Aboriginal Healing and Wellness Centre in the Downtown Eastside (DTES), and to do it quickly. (…)


Condos flood into Oppenheimer area while City stalls on planning process

While the City stalls on the Local Area Planning Process (LAPP), the heart of the DTES community is being taken over by condo and market housing developments. (…)

P6119083Storm Brewing – Local Area Plan and the Future of the DTES

with Harold Lavender

The fight over the future of the DTES is heating up. A DTES Local Area Plan that could last up to thirty years will be presented to City Council for a vote, probably in March. (…)

dtessocialjusticezonesignDo we want a Social Justice Zone in the Downtown Eastside?

All over the world, low income areas are being gentrified and low income and vulnerable people pushed out of their neighbourhoods. (…)

khelsilemIdle? Know More!  Learning about Indigenous Sovereignty and Land-based Resurgence

Three hundred people packed into a large room at the main Vancouver Public Library and another 1200 watched on Facebook. (…)

balmoralregentEmerging (Mis)Directions – Proposals for DTES Plan fails low-income residents

with Tamara Herman

850 homeless people.  Four thousand living in crummy SROs.  Over 400 rooms lost last year to rent increases at $425 or more. (…)

hungerstrikewithpricedpushpolicedoutsign“Now, more than ever, we need unity and solidarity.” DTES hunger strike campaign wraps up and looks ahead

Over 125 Downtown Eastside residents packed into the Carnegie Theatre on May 26th for a celebration and feast in honour of (formerly) Homeless Dave’s hunger strike. (…)

artpalacevancouverartgalleryHomes or an art palace? Which would you choose?

City council is happy with a new deal to give $22 million worth of land to a non-profit developer to build about 350 units of rental housing on four sites in South Vancouver. (…)

asiahotel-copyGood news for Asia hotel residents

ATIRA women’s resource society will be the new manager of the Asia Hotel on Pender St. owned by the Mah Society. (…)

plaque_olaf-solheim-plaque_colorDTES Historic Plaque Gone Missing

A historical plaque that was supposed to have been put on a light pole near the Patricia Hotel at Dunlevy and Hastings is MISSING. (…)

new-picket-picture-copyMyths and Facts About the Downtown Eastside and Pidgin

with Diane Wood

Myth:  Diners will learn more about the DTES by dining in fancy restaurants that the locals can’t afford. (…)

picket_1We need homes

The City and Province are trying to create the impression that lots of housing for low-income people is being built in the Downtown Eastside. (…)

2012_ccap_report_woodwards_mapsHow do we know that gentrification is pushing up hotel rents?

In 2005, before Woodward’s was developed into 536 condo and 125 social housing units for singles, there were 8 hotels with 404 rooms within a block of Woodward’s. (…)

budosborn_photo-by-tami_2Questions and answers about the Pidgin Picket

Question:  Why are you protecting drug users/ misery? Answer:  Drug users are human beings with dignity.  They deserve to have their health issues addressed in effective ways.  A fancy restaurant won’t help drug users. (…)

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