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Grand Opening of Skwachàys Residence and Healing Lodge in Vancouver

June 11, 2012 Leave a comment

Affordable homes with Aboriginal supports open in Vancouver

VANCOUVER — Skwachàys Healing Lodge has officially opened to provide affordable housing for thosewho are homeless, or at risk of homelessness, as well as healing lodge apartments for Aboriginal individuals travelling to Vancouver for medical treatment.

“Our government is proud to invest in this important community infrastructure project that will have a positive impact on the lives of Aboriginal people and their families,” said the Honourable John Duncan, Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development. “We will continue to support initiatives like this to strengthen communities, help protect those most vulnerable and promote the health, safety and well-being of Aboriginal people and all Canadians.”

“The Province is working in partnership with other levels of government and communities to help end homelessness and to create housing that helps people move off the streets permanently,” said Rich Coleman, British Columbia’s Minister of Energy and Mines and Minister Responsible for Housing. “This new building is now a safe home for 24 individuals and will provide interim housing for people seeking medical treatment.”

The recently completed housing development provides 24 affordable housing apartments for those who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. The building also provides 18 healing lodge apartments for Aboriginal individuals and their immediate family who need to travel to Vancouver from rural and remote communities for medical services. The building also includes a commercial kitchen, an art gallery and a basement workshop as well as culturally-appropriate services, such as a sweat lodge and smudge room, which provide space for spiritual cleansing and healing.

The building, located at 31 W. Pender St. in Vancouver, is on the site of the former Pender Hotel, one of 24 single-room occupancy hotels the Province purchased in Vancouver to preserve existing housing stock. The hotel was demolished with care to preserve the heritage façade of the original building.

Funding for Skwachàys Healing Lodge comes from a variety of sources. Federal funding includes $2.7 million under the Infrastructure Stimulus Fund as well as $451,500 through the Building Communities Through Arts and Heritage program of the Department of Canadian Heritage. The Province of British Columbia provided a $4.32-million grant, as well as land equity valued at approximately $2.8 million.

The City of Vancouver provided $490,000 and has waived development cost charges valued at approximately $156,000. Vancouver Native Housing Society is fundraising and contributing in kind funds of $261,000 and will be financing the remaining capital budget.

“Collaborative projects like the Skwachàys Healing Lodge demonstrate the remarkable progress that can be achieved to tackle homelessness when the community and all levels of government come together in creative partnerships,” said Mayor Gregor Robertson, City of Vancouver. “Vancouver’s population is only three per cent Aboriginal, but the 2012 Vancouver homeless count recently confirmed that over 30 per cent of Vancouver’s homeless population is of Aboriginal heritage. This important project helps to address the urgent need for new affordable housing in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside in a manner that supports Aboriginal peoples and embraces their rich cultural traditions.”

“The Skwachàys name was given to the building by Chief Ian Campbell of the Squamish Nation. It reflects the traditional name for this area, which Chief Campbell referred to as a place of transformation.” said David Eddy, CEO of the Vancouver Native Housing Society. “We placed a traditional longhouse – the first longhouse built in downtown Vancouver since before contact – on top of the building for use as a healing lodge. The longhouse and 40.5-foot story pole make a unique statement of the value and importance of the first peoples that have inhabited this area for millennia. It will not only provide appropriate housing and services to those without a home, but it will also provide affordable, culturally appropriate housing for Aboriginal people travelling to Vancouver for health care during a time when they may be vulnerable and in need of support.”

Vancouver Native Housing Society manages and operates Skwachàys Healing Lodge and the adjacent site located at 27 W. Pender St., which provides 98 affordable apartments. For 20 years, the society has been dedicated to providing housing for the urban Aboriginal community. They also provide programs that enrich the lives of their tenants and others in the community.

COPE Councilor Ellen Woodsworth at 2011 Gathering Place Homeless Connect event on Wed Oct 12 in Vancouver

October 12, 2011 1 comment

Homeless Connect

Homeless Connect days are special events designed to give people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness access to a wide range of health and other support services all under one roof.

The City will be among other organizations province-wide that will host special events to provide free services for the homeless including: food, foot care, haircuts, hearing tests, pet care, street nurses, and bike repair. The events are also an opportunity to connect with service providers and gather information on employment, housing and health while in a welcoming atmosphere with food, music and other entertainment.

Gathering Place Connect
Wednesday, October 12 from 11 am to 2 pm
609 Helmcken Street

See more at

http://stophomelessness.ca/

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

October 12, 2011 Leave a comment

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.”

Alley Health Fair 2011 on 100 Block Hastings in Vancouver Downtown Eastside (DTES)

September 21, 2011 Leave a comment

A celebration of healthy living and nutrition in the Downtown Eastside, from hair cuts to HIV testing, from blood pressure to pedal-powered smoothies

The Alley Health Fair wants to increase awareness of healthy living possibilities among DTES residents. Be sure to visit them on Thursday, Sept 15 10AM-2PM

Alley Health Fair

100 Block East Hastings

Food, Acupuncture,  Massage, Smoothies, Giveaways, Health Info and Testing!

W2TV: Solidarity Notes Choir – Women’s Housing March and GentriFUCation Tour

September 18, 2011 Leave a comment

5th ANNUAL WOMEN’S HOUSING MARCH
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Sat. Sep 17 @ 1:30 pm
Starts at Cordova and Columbia, just west of Main St.
Unceded Coast Salish Territories

On Saturday Sep 17 at 1:30 pm, join the Downtown Eastside Women Centre Power of Women Group* in the 5th Annual March for Women’s Housing and March Against Poverty.

We invite groups to bring their banners and anything else for our festive march and ‘GentriFucation Tour’. All genders are welcome and celebrated. Please bring your drums and regalia. This march is child-friendly and there will be a rest-vehicle for elders. Spread the word!

This year, we celebrate the recent victory that has forced the provincial government to commit funding to a 24-hour low barrier shelter for women as a result of our collective efforts. We also continue to march for:
– Social Housing, Childcare, and Healthcare for all!
– No more Evictions and No more Gentrification in the Downtown Eastside!
– Stop Criminalizing the Poor!

Email: project@dewc.ca or Phone: 778 885 0040

Video by Sid Tan of W2TV