Issue 3, Fall 2015


Cover art by Karen Ward



homeless-forecast-image-comic-city-housing-solution_debra-mcnaught-copy (1)

The “national” housing policy we need

By the Editors

Anti-homelessness housing advocates have been calling for a “national housing strategy” ever since the federal Liberals stopped regular funding for Canada’s national social housing program in 1993. With this election it seems the demand has carried upwards and has been seized on by three of the four major parties seeking office. But while the words of the slogan have caught on, its spirit is wandering elsewhere. (…)


Cities alone cannot solve the housing crisis and it is misleading to say they can

By Ivan Drury

While living in the Mission area in 2013 I regularly picked up hitchhikers travelling on Lougheed Highway in the first rural area beyond the suburbs of Vancouver. The men I met on the highway were on the edge of homelessness or already there. (…)


Fight for Dignity – Abbotsford Homeless Await Court Decision

By Dave Diewert

For 6 weeks this past summer, the Abbotsford chapter of the BC/Yukon Drug WaSurvivors and its team of lawyers have been in court. They are challenging the City of Abbotsford’s policies and treatment of homeless people, arguing that they violate the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. (…)


Landlords and developers continue to lobby for tax cuts

By Nathan Crompton

During this year’s federal elections we have been hearing again from BC’s pro-developer lobbyists. This time it’s the BC Rental Housing Coalition. The group is headed by the Urban Development Institute (UDI), BC’s largest developer coalition, as well as LandlordBC, the industry association representing owners and managers of rental housing in BC. (…)

fightforhousingThe Truth about Rent Subsidies: from British Columbia to the Section 8 program in the U.S.

By Sarah Sheridan, with a primer on Section 8 housing in the U.S. by Ivan Drury

In January of 2015 Housing Minister Rich Coleman wrote an article in The Georgia Straight stating, “Rental assistance is so effective we created the new Homeless Prevention Program to provide people at-risk of homelessness with rent supplements to help them stay in the private market.” But if rent subsidy programs are so “effective,” why is homelessness increasing? (…) (Article also includes a supplement on experience with rent supplements in the U.S.)


Homeless Counts for What?

By Scott Neufeld

Every year since 2010 the City of Vancouver has counted its homeless residents. Around four hundred volunteers are recruited, trained, and sent out to lie in wait at Vancouver shelters or hit the streets to follow predetermined routes in search of their homeless quarry. (…)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWho’s experiencing the real housing crisis? The homeless or young professionals?

By Ivan Drury

Are young professionals who can’t afford to buy a single-family home in a similar “housing crisis” to people who sleep on the street? When I did a Google News search in the early Fall of 2015 I found “housing crisis” + “homelessness” yields 1,550 results, while “housing crisis” + “ownership” produced 1,850 entries. (…)

DSC_8955Demo-victions in Metrotown and a new anti-displacement movement

By Dave Diewert

The housing crisis in BC has many faces. It is most starkly visible in the homeless camps that have caught media attention in Vancouver, Maple Ridge, Abbotsford, Victoria, and elsewhere, where tents, make-shift structures and people in need of shelter fill public spaces and force confrontations with local property owners and municipal governments. But housing vulnerability and the experience of displacement takes many other forms as well. (…)

P9191737Metrotown Demolitions Displace Communities

By Kaye Bedford

My particular circumstances upon arriving here were difficult to say the least.  I couldn’t afford a car and I was simply trying to work as hard as I could to stay afloat.  My saving grace in many aspects were the amenities that could be found within close proximity to where I lived.  More specifically, sharing a small apartment in Metrotown provided the positive circumstances to help me find stability. (…)


Maple Ridge homeless still need a tent city

By Ivan Drury with a poem by Tracy Scott

The Cliff Avenue tent city is only the visible tip of the iceberg of homelessness in Maple Ridge, where people live in temporary camps hidden from sight throughout and around the city. The difference between Cliff Avenue and other Maple Ridge homeless camps is that Mayor Nicole Read has, throughout the spring and summer, ordered police and bylaw officers to leave Cliff Avenue campers alone while other camps have suffered their harassment. (…)

justin-trudeau-hmmWhat happened to a National (Social) Housing Strategy?

By Sarah Sheridan

People across Canada are facing hours of sifting through newspaper articles, watching interviews, and following tweets from MPs in hopes of gaining clarity about their federal party platforms and promises about housing. Sometimes op-eds, press conferences, and news releases add to the confusion. (…)

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

By Jean Swanson

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? (…)

Regent Hotel, Vancouver, Downtown Eastside.Tales from the Regent

By Joey A

I live in an SRO (single room occupancy) hotel in the Downtown Eastside (DTES) of Vancouver, in what I devoutly hope is a temporary living arrangement. The Regent is rated the second-worst hotel in the city, surpassed only by its sister hotel, the Balmoral, located directly across the street and owned by the same scum-sucking landlord. (…)

srorallyVancouver homelessness forecast for 2016

By Jean Swanson and Maria Wallstam

Homelessness in Vancouver could increase by hundreds next year unless all levels of government act now. For the last two years Vancouver has had record high numbers of homeless people; in 2015 the count was 1,746, down 57 from the previous year but still up 146 from 2013. (…)

vandu-housing-marc-2014cMarching together for housing justice

By Karen Ward

The VANDU Housing March is happening in the week prior to the federal election. We hope to garner some attention in the city at large and reopen a pretty stagnant conversation about public housing and about the housing crisis more widely. (…)

foreign-investment_chinatown-mural-defaced_credit-to-ounodesign-copyBeyond the Foreign Investment Debate

By Maria Wallstam and Nathan Crompton

The latest development is a growing number of Vancouverites rallying around the call for “more data” on foreign investment. But when it comes to the housing crisis, is data on foreign investment the most pressing problem? Does it even make sense to distinguish between local and foreign capital? (…)


Death by Cops on the Rise in BC

By Dave Diewert

Despite new training programs, police are killing people at increasing rates in BC. Over the past 12 months there have been 16 known police-involved deaths in BC. All of the victims were men, and many were under 30 years old (…)

swuav-pic-for-volcano-copySex work laws criminalize a necessary community of women

By Sex Workers United Against Violence (SWUAV)

What this study demonstrated is something that we and others who have been working in peer-led organizations have known for years: sex workers experience better health and safety when they are able to work in community with one another, rather than in isolation. (…)

in-defence-drug-dealers-screenshot-ctv-news-report-copyEnd the War on Drug Dealers

By Dionne Molloy

On July 16, 2015, the Victoria Police Department issued warrants for 16 suspected drug dealers accused of preying on people who use shelters in Victoria. The result of a 6-week undercover sting in Our Place and Rock Bay Landing shelters saw a combined total of nineteen counts of trafficking issued to these suspects who were also identified by police as gang affiliated. The sting and media following the incident made a distinction between the “deserving” and “undeserving” poor. (…)

fentanylFentanyl: its deadly effects don’t discriminate, but they expose social discrimination

By Phoenix Winter

I was struck by the news coverage of the deaths from Fentanyl. When people in the Downtown Eastside (DTES) overdose, there is barely any coverage, and we don’t know people’s names. But when a couple in North Vancouver died from a Fentanyl overdose in July, the media said, “They came from a good family.” Don’t people in the DTES also come from good families? (…)

neverhome-copyCanada’s Refugee Crisis

By Sozan Savehilaghi

Over the past month the plight of refugees has been gaining attention in mainstream and social media. When the bodies of the Kurdi family were found on Turkish shores as they tried to reach Greece by boat, it seemed the tragedy and injustice faced by the 60 million global refugees finally had faces and stories beyond just statistics – albeit too late for Alan, Ghalib and their mother Rehanna Kurdi, as well as the countless others we have lost. (…)

neverhome_exploitandexpend“Never Home” report reveals the truth about migration to Canada

By Harold Lavender

The NeverHome multi-media website ( produced by No One is Illegal is an invaluable and timely resource. More than 50 people put in over 1000 hours to produce this creative and detailed account of the Harper government’s extremely harsh changes to immigration and refugee policy. (…)

greece-bank-of-berlin-copyYou can’t vote against the free market: Lessons from the Greek struggle against austerity

By Ivan Drury

This was almost the summer that the army of austerity got turned back at the Greek gates. Had they won, the lessons from Greece could have been: a powerful social movement can open space in parliamentary politics for the return of social democracy, which can reverse the damage neoliberals have done to the social safety net over the last thirty years (…)

shakedownstaptsThe Challenge Is Whether To Squat Or Deal

By Kym Hines

Micro Housing was brought to L’kwungen Territory as a result of Bobby Arbess approaching me with the idea as a member of the Committee To End Homelessness Victoria (CTEHV). (…)

gachet-copyA Tale of Two Art Galleries

By Jean Swanson

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. One got $50 million from the province, $23 million from donors, and about $200 worth of land and foregone taxes from the city. The other got its funding cut by Vancouver Coastal Health. (…)

right-to-remain-evite_adWorking Towards an Open, Tolerant Society: Closing Thoughts on Phase 1 of the Right to Remain Project

By Herb Varley

Canada likes to present itself to the world in a certain way. The image of Canada is often that of an open, tolerant, society; one that anyone can come to and thrive in, just as long as they work hard. One thing that we have learned over the course of the “Right to Remain” project is that this image of Canada is largely a work of fiction. (…)

train-copyLearning to Live on Shared Territory: Report and reflections on the “Train of Thought” cultural exchange tour

By Savannah Waling, with a story from Priscillia Tait

The Train of Thought was the culmination of ten years of planning, but it felt like a first step on a much longer journey. (…)

floodthesystemTime to Flood the System

By Sean Phipps

Another year and another climate conference. This December, 196 countries will meet in Paris to address the ongoing climate crisis, as they have done for the last 21 years. Twenty-one years of failed agreements, sky-rocketing emissions, and rising temperatures. What makes them think this year will be any different? (…)

wheelofmisfortune2-copyWheel of Misfortune to spin at October’s SRO Tenant Convention

By Arnold Nokohoot

The second annual SRO Tenant Convention is coming up on Sunday October 18th, 10am-5pm at the Vancouver Japanese Language Hall at 487 Alexander Street. This year’s convention promises to be even more spectacular than last year’s event, with lots of exciting activities throughout the day, delicious food, and lots of door and cash prizes of $100, $50, $25 to be won. (…)


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