COPE Councilor Ellen Woodsworth speaking on COPE Housing Solutions for Vancouver Downtown Eastside (DTES)

COPE Councilor Ellen Woodsworth committed today to slow gentrification in the Downtown Eastside, a process that is pushing out local residents through unaffordable rent and rising food costs. In front of the controversial Pantages Theatre site, Woodsworth announced COPE’s plan to ensure property in the Downtown Eastside is devoted to affordable housing for the low-income community.

“The hundred block of Hastings is not a place for high end condos,” said Woodsworth. “The Downtown Eastside can count on COPE to make certain that housing developed in the neighbourhood provides for the current local residents.”

COPE committed to calling for a condominium development moratorium in the Downtown Eastside until sufficient low-income housing is in place. COPE will also strengthen the anti-conversion by-law by defining ‘affordability’ as being affordable to those on Government Assistance. This will ensure that residents of the area are not forced to leave their homes because of increasing rent.

“The Downtown Eastside community is well organised and they have set specific priorities for how the City plans their vital neighbourhood,” said Woodsworth. “COPE remains committed to listening to neighbourhoods, and this neighbouhood is speaking loud, and clear.”

Woodsworth highlighted the demands of local community groups, including the resident-based Downtown Eastside Neighbourhood Council, calling on the City of Vancouver to identify 10 locations to be designated as future sites for low-income housing. COPE also commits to providing greater security and safety for residents of Single Occupancy (SRO) hotels.

“Our city staff need more resources to help enforce standards of maintenance by-laws. This is crucial in order to protect our city’s most vulnerable from absentee or neglectful land owners,” added Woodsworth.

COPE also set a target of creating 1000 affordable housing units in Vancouver every year.

“Housing is a top priority for our city, and residents can count on COPE to create a Vancouver for everyone with safe, secure, affordable housing,” said Woodsworth.

While calling for a national housing strategy and for increased provincial support for affordable and supportive housing units, COPE wants the City to play a leadership role in making the creation of new housing a reality.

“We cannot let Stephen Harper or Christy Clark off the hook. Both provincial and federal governments must return to the housing table,” said Woodsworth. “Vancouver cannot wait though, and COPE councilors will work everyday to focus on how best to make Vancouver affordable for everyone.”

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