UN observer: "Massive crisis" in Vancouver

Mike sends in this link to an interview in the Tyee with Miloon Kothari, the UN Special Rapporteur for Housing who recently visited Canada (including Vancouver). Here’s what he had to say about our town:

There is a deep homelessness problem here. I must say I was taken aback by the scale of the crisis here in the Downtown Eastside.

It’s glaringly apparent in Vancouver that for quite some time… successive governments have failed to create the housing that is necessary. You have a legacy of misguided government policy that has led to this massive crisis in housing and homelessness.

We didn’t hear this in other places. The decrepit nature of SROs, the conditions of the buildings that people are living in, very poor health…I was repeatedly struck by the contrast that I see because it is such a beautiful city, because there has been so much investment. It is striking that a few blocks from million-dollar condominiums, that there is such immense poverty.

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TheVanMan
TheVanMan
12 years ago

Patriotz said:The real cost of rental housing is in fact lower than it was 10 or 20 years ago.People are homeless because they have mental health, drug, alcohol, or other personal problems that keep them from functioning properly.To address homelessness, you have to address these root causes. It's a social problem, not an economic one. And yes that's going to cost money. But let's not pretend that spending taxpayers' money on housing is the cure. It's not. Quite the opposite, it just pumps up the housing market more and makes housing less affordable for everyone.I said:Maybe Patriotz is really living in a fish bowl. Words like this is simply shown an ignorant person with absolutely lack of facts!Take Hong Kong for instance.In Hong Kong, government housing is available since the early 1960s. They are 2 kinds, namely the first is… Read more »

vineland
vineland
12 years ago

The reason you will never get the drug addicted mentally ill person into a group home or Riverview: Rule number one – no drugs allowed in the building. Patient: bye-bye – straight back to the street. Can we force him/her into treatment? No! civil liberties will scream, cry and howl all the way to the supreme court, if need be – "Every street person has the right to rot, don't infringe on their right!!!"I just love the catch 22 we all get to live near. A person who is too mentally ill to live on their own, goes off and self-medicates with street drugs. Now the person, already ill, is in desperate need of detox, but, due to the drugs worsening their mental stability, they resist it (paranoia of doctors, believing they are living in a Castle, or whatever). If… Read more »

craigpbbrett
craigpbbrett
12 years ago

More affordable housing, increased social assistance and a continued open-air drug market. It's a perfect storm of government incompetence.

Warren
Warren
12 years ago

vanguy What tires me is the people, like Warren, who drive through the DTES and think they have all the answers on how to help these people.Don't put words in my mouth.I merely mentioned that some low income housing is coming, yet homeless advocates are now complaining about what they asked for earlier. You're advocating blanket spending with no concrete ideas.

patriotz
patriotz
12 years ago

The real problem in Vancouver is that we're Canada's dumping ground because the weather is pretty liveable year roundLet's not forget that Ralph Klein actually bragged about giving his less desirable citizens free bus tickets to BC.Now that there's a kindred government in Victoria, you don't hear this any more, but I wonder if the practice has really stopped.

VanGuy
VanGuy
12 years ago

Patriotz and Clarke are right. What tires me is the people, like Warren, who drive through the DTES and think they have all the answers on how to help these people. Give these people dignity first, and then help them with housing, drug addiction, mental issues. It is a massive undertaking and one that no politician in BC really wants to undertake. We are running a massive budget surplus, we are overspending on civil projects all over the province, yet we don't have the will to help those who need help the most. Everytime Carole Taylor congratulates herself and her colleagues for their sound fiscal management they should feel a deep shame that with all they think they have done for this province that we still have people lined up 40-60 deep at the Union Gospel Mission, every day.

Drachen
Drachen
12 years ago

The real problem in Vancouver is that we're Canada's dumping ground because the weather is pretty liveable year round. Canada refuses to help foot the bill and calls it a city problem, Vancouver politicians say they're not going to do it because it really is a country problem and the homeless are stuck in the middle.

ThumbsUp
ThumbsUp
12 years ago

Milan(miloon)Kothari's report may be old and just got published on this date.Because government have a plan in process.City have donated all dtes side hotel for the purpose,some of them are under construction, and they also have found responsible authority to take over as management in Vancouver.Two weeks ago law inforcement in Victoria took those homeless people by force to accomodate them in decent home.In victoria homeless counts are miner but in Vancouver lots.There was related article in the Vancouver Sun or Province for Victoria and Vancouver. I can not find that if anybody intrested and know how to. I have searched through 30 days archive but did not find those.

HADENOUGH
HADENOUGH
12 years ago

If everyone was given an aparment many people can't manage living on their own. Keeping their places clean, buying food etc. They can't manage day-to-day tasks that we take for granted.This all started with the closing down of institutions and putting them out on the street to fend for themselves.

Warren
Warren
12 years ago

I agree with most of the comments here. And, the government is (finally) doing something about it, with a number of projects coming. I really get pissed off when people from other places act like all of these homeless people are my problem.Don't get me started on how these people "deserve" homes on arguably the highest valued, most desired land in the GVRD.Some blog around here recently had a list of the social housing projects that have recently gotten underway after the City and Province bought up a bunch of land and are in the process of rebuilding social units. The numbers are not insignificant.But now of course "homeless advocates" are complaining about the planned size of these units, some as small as 250-300 square feet. Soon they'll be complaining about the lack of water views.

Deliverator
Deliverator
12 years ago

Reopen Riverview.

Clarke
Clarke
12 years ago

Patriotz is right. I honestly wish that all it took to solve homelessness here is simply giving the homeless free housing downtown, like many activists seem to advocate. The bulk of our homeless population have major substance abuse and mental health problems. These people do need housing, but probably in some sort of controlled group home setting where they would get lots of help in other areas too. Aside from the civil liberty issues in keeping people in these places, this sort of major intervention would cost lots of money. It would likely be less expensive for society over the long term, but that is a hard political argument to make.

patriotz
patriotz
12 years ago

Homelessness has nothing to do with the cost of housing. There are plenty of people working crap jobs for minimum wage or less in Vancouver and they aren't homeless (hint: Asians).The real cost of rental housing is in fact lower than it was 10 or 20 years ago. People are homeless because they have mental health, drug, alcohol, or other personal problems that keep them from functioning properly.To address homelessness, you have to address these root causes. It's a social problem, not an economic one. And yes that's going to cost money. But let's not pretend that spending taxpayers' money on housing is the cure. It's not. Quite the opposite, it just pumps up the housing market more and makes housing less affordable for everyone.

craigpbbrett
craigpbbrett
12 years ago

You'd think these people might consider moving. But I'm not an all-knowing bureaucrat at the UN so what do I know.

Swirlyman
Swirlyman
12 years ago

Well if it does, our new license plates still proudly proclaim that B.C. is "The Best Place On Earth"!We'll have to all go driving to the States to advertise that fact to the Americans…

Jade East
Jade East
12 years ago

I really hope this doesn't mess up our "bestest places ever" rankings for 2008.