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Hendrik Beune of AHA MEDIA attends “Homeless and Advocates Response to Impending Shelter Closures” at Northern Street Shelter, 240 Northern Street, Vancouver on Monday April 12, 2010

April 13, 2010 1 comment

Homeless and Advocates Respond to Impending Shelter Closures

Media Advisory – April 11, 2010

On Monday morning, homeless residents of the Northern Street shelter and housing advocates will announce a coordinated response to the upcoming closure of the HEAT shelters. A total of seven HEAT shelters, which housed more than 600 homeless individuals during the Olympics, are scheduled to begin closing on April 20, with the last shelter to close on April 31.

What: Coordinated response to shelter closures
When: 9am, Monday April 12, 2010
Where: Northern Street Shelter, 240 Northern Street, Vancouver
Who: Shelter residents and representatives from Citywide Housing Coalition, Downtown Neighbourhood Council, Carnegie Community Action Project, and Pivot Legal Society

According to homeless count statistics released earlier this week, the number of homeless in Vancouver has increased 12% from 2008, from 1576 to 1762. Until now, most homeless people have been able to find beds; the closure of the HEAT shelters will increase Vancouver’s street homeless population from approximately 400 to more than 1000.

Homeless will start Tent City to Demand Shelter

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The following is from

Red Tent 2010 – For a National Housing Strategy

For Immediate Release, April 12, 2010

Homeless representatives from the Aboriginal Central Shelter on Central Street announced their intention to start a tent city if their 100-bed shelter closes, on April 20.

“We’ll try to stay here otherwise we’re going to the parks,” says Stuart Fraser, a resident of the Central Shelter. “People with poor mental health should not be living on the street. The cost of decent housing is ridiculous.  It’s just wrong. “

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“We did our share, we worked, our relatives here in BC worked too and put their share in.  We should not be put aside because we’re 45-50 years old and have trouble getting work,” said Kari Koivu, a resident of the Central Shelter. “They put so much into the Olympics. We should at least have support to live at the poverty line.”

“The same thing happens again and again.  We all need this shelter,” says Dave, a resident of the Central shelter. “Shut it down and we go right back to sleeping outside. Like a circle that goes round and round.”

Members of the public are being asked to sponsor 100 red tents to go to Central shelter residents forced to live on City streets and Parks as a result of the shelter closure.  More than 600 people face living on the street if planned HEAT shelter closures proceed. A coalition of housing organizations is calling on government to keep the shelters open.

“Rich Coleman needs to stop trying to force the City to pay the bill, and go after the federal government,” said Rider Cooey, of the Citywide Housing Coalition. “The City has no money, and it’s the federal government’s withdrawal of funding for social housing that has created this situation.”

“By funding the shelters, the province could prove that they were not set up solely to hide the homeless for the Olympics,” said Wendy Pederson of the Carnegie Community Action Project. “It’s hideous to fight for shelters but unfortunately, these shelters are needed until incomes are raised and real social housing is built.”


“The provincial government knows that people will be forced to live on the street and in parks if these shelters close,” said John Richardson, of Pivot Legal Society. “If the decision is to have homeless people living outside, we are asking the public to defend their right to shelter by sponsoring a red tent or a red tarp.”

Under a December 2009 BC Court of Appeal decision, homeless individuals have a constitutional right to erect a tent on public land if shelters are full. It is the first appeal court decision to find that the “right to life” under section 7 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms includes the right to shelter. More than 70 homeless people were given permanent housing as a condition of closing the last tent city, during the Olympic Games.

The number of homeless in Vancouver has increased 12% from 2008, from 1576 to 1762. Until now, most homeless people have been able to find beds; the closure of the HEAT shelters will mean more than 1000 people will sleep on the streets of Vancouver.

For more information, contact:

Aboriginal Central Shelter 604-720-9761
Wendy Pederson, Carnegie Action Project (604) 839-0379
Rider Cooey, Citywide Housing Coalition (604) 872-1382
John Richardson, Pivot Legal Society (604) 417-6074

or visit www.redtents.org

CANADA’S RED TENT CAMPAIGN

BACKGROUND FACTS

Homelessness in Canada & British Columbia

  • Canada’s homeless population is somewhere between 200,000 and 300,000 people and 1.7 million residents across the country struggle with housing affordability issues.
  • There are between 10,500 and 15,000 homeless people in British Columbia.
    • A homeless person dies every 12 days in British Columbia.
    • The 2008 homelessness count identified 2,660 people who were homeless in the Metro Vancouver region.
    • Homelessness has more than doubled since the Olympics were awarded to Vancouver.
    • Roughly half of all Canadians live in fear of poverty, and 49 per cent polled believe they might be poverty stricken if they missed one or two pay cheques.
      • 73% of homeless aboriginal people are street homeless in Metro Vancouver.
      • 45% of homeless women in Metro Vancouver are aboriginal.

The High Cost of Homelessness

  • Government numbers show a cost of up to $6 billion a year to service a “core” homeless population of 150,000 people. That cost includes health care, criminal justice, social services and emergency shelter costs.
  • Canada is the only G-8 country in the world without a national housing strategy.

What is the Adams Decision?

-       The Adams decision, which arose from a housing protest in a park in Victoria, held that homeless people have a constitutional right, under section 7 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, to erect temporary shelter on public space if there is insufficient shelter space.

-       The consequence of the Adams decision is that municipalities in British Columbia must now respect the right of homeless people to erect temporary shelters on municipal property designated for public use.

What is the Red Tent Campaign?

-       The Red Tent campaign is about exercising the right to housing, as dictated by the Adams decision, during a time when billions of dollars are being spent on the Olympics and Olympic security.

-       The goal is to raise the visibility of homelessness through the international media that will be attending the 2010 Olympic Games, exposing the Federal Government of Canada’s deep lack of inaction and urging them to do fund a National Housing Strategy. 

-       Red Tent is an open-sourced campaign with a statement of unity that connects many different individuals and organizations working around housing issues.

-       The Red Tent campaign is endorsed by:

The Red Tent Campaign is modeled off the 2006 campaign by French anti-poverty organization Children of Don Quixote, which used Red tents as a symbol to draw attention to the plight of the homeless in Paris. The organization launched the campaign to coincide with a French national election. The tents were used as a visual reminder that there were over 100,000 people who were homeless in France and that shelter did not have adequate space available for all those in need and that shelters are not a substitute for long-term housing.  In the end the French government announced the creation of 27,000 new shelter beds across the country and introduced improvements to already existing shelters, they also guaranteed that a new law recognizing housing as a right would be passed.

-       For more information on Canada’s Red Tent Campaign visit: http://www.redtents.org

Now is the time for action

  • The Red Tent Campaign and our supporters are calling on the Federal Government of Canada to implement a fully funded National Housing Strategy to deal with the homelessness crisis in Canada.
  • Member of Parliament for Vancouver East, Libby Davies currently has a national housing strategy bill coming to parliament for third reading after parliament is reconvened after the 2010 Olympics.  For the full version of the Bill C-304 visit: http://www2.parl.gc.ca/HousePublications/Publication.aspx?Language=E&Parl=40&Ses=2&Mode=1&Pub=Bill&Doc=C-304_1&File=24
  • It has been 17 years since Canada has had a national affordable housing strategy. The former plan, which created 650,000 units providing housing for more than two million Canadians, was cancelled in 1993.

For more information, visit www.redtents.org

Video of Woman reporter who is a Tent City resident arrested by Psych-Police in Downtown Eastside (DTES) on March 19, 2010

March 20, 2010 3 comments

In this video, Diane Claveau, reporter and Tent City resident is pursued, SWARMED, handcuffed and ARRESTED by 8 Vancouver Police and Psychiatric workers on March 19, 2010

Immediate Release 20 March 2010

Contacts: Wendy Pedersen, 839-0379 Rider Cooey, 872-1382

Vancouver Tent City Woman Arrested, Held for Psychiatric Assessment

Diane Claveau, a reporter and tent city resident often quoted in the media, was arrested Friday night.  She was tied to a stretcher, and transported to St Paul’s Hospital for 48-hour “assessment.”

Fellow campers Rene, Marley, and Gillian were outraged, emphasizing that Claveau was quiet and polite, with a friendly and calming manner that had a positive influence on others in the tent city.   They speculated her apprehension under the mental health act was instigated by Concord Pacific, owner of the site.

Concord wants to build a controversial condo development at 58 West Hastings.  Homeless people and supporters have demanded for two years that the full-block sized site be used instead for social housing.  They’ve peacefully occupied the land since February 15.

On Wednesday, in response to a CoV directive, Concord’s contract employees teamed with housing agencies to sweep the site clear of campers and their sometimes makeshift camping gear.  Campers who weren’t present returned to find their possessions gone.

The housing agencies offered a variety of “housing” and inducements for campers to leave, and— despite campers’ fear that some housing would be pest-ridden SRO hotel rooms—  all campers were persuaded to leave the tent city by Wednesday night.

Except Claveau.  She stayed, insisting she wanted to pay rent for “real housing,” not for a pestilential SRO or an institutional cubicle.

She was effectively imprisoned for the night when Concord representatives chained the gates shut.  Friends passed her food and supplies over the 6-foot fence.  The Vancouver Fire Department—after a month of multiple campfires on this property—gained entry and poured water on her tiny fire.  A breach of the Fire Bylaw, they said.

By Friday, the fears of other campers about bedbugs and other pests had come true, and a few had returned to the campsite.   When the VPD appeared seeking Diane, the campers succeeded in delaying any action by demanding that Claveau be allowed to consult a lawyer.

After the lawyer (David Eby) arrived and determined the paperwork was in order, a squad of eight VPD and health unit officials pursued and cornered Diane at the western end of the site.  She shouted and fought, aided by three women friends, but all were overpowered by the police.  Her hands were cuffed behind her back and she was pushed and pulled across the vacant lot, onto a stretcher, and into an ambulance.

Three supporters drove to St Paul’s and called encouragement to Diane from the lobby, until until asked to leave.

Wendy Pedersen, 839-0379  Rider Cooey, 872-1382

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