Thursday, 4 April 2013

Letter to Mayor


“Gentrification is intensifying; the housing crisis is deepening, and the health of the people and community are under serious threat.  Desperate times call for desperate measures.”      
 - Homeless Dave

April 4, 2013

Dear Mayor Gregor Robinson and City Councillors:

Re:  Request for a meeting and response to hunger strike demands

(Formerly) “Homeless Dave” is now in his third week of a hunger strike for housing and to protest gentrification.  He has only ingested sage tea and 325ml/day of Happy Planet juice since March 22, 2013.  He has lost (14 pounds).  Dave and his spokespeople, request an urgent meeting with you to discuss these 3 “do-able” demands: 

  1. 100% community-directed social housing at the Sequel 138 condo site with a healing and wellness centre;
  2.  100% social housing at the former cop shop at 312 Main with a community-directed space      focused on women and Aboriginal people in recognition of the horrific damage done over the years by the Vancouver Police at that site; and,
  3. That the City of Vancouver declare the Downtown Eastside a "Social Justice Zone" along with the policies to make it happen.  

Dave’s demands are supported by Grand Chief Stewart Phillip of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs and Cecilia Point of the Musqueam Nation.  Several Downtown Eastside groups have also endorsed his demands including:  Aboriginal Front Door, Butterflies in Spirit, Carnegie Community Action Project, Downtown Eastside Neighbourhood Council, Downtown Eastside Power of Women Group, Gallery Gachet, Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users and Western Aboriginal Harm Reduction Society.  A wider call-out for endorsements has just been issued.  A petition for the demands is also being circulated.  More actions are being planned in the community.

The City is sending dangerous signals to the public that DTES rate of change, housing and homelessness is under control.  This is disrespectful to DTES residents who are in “housing crisis” and whose assets are under threat.  There are 850 “displaced” homeless people in the DTES and 5,000 SRO (single-room occupancy) rooms that need to be replaced with affordable apartments.  As we lose low-income housing it is not being replaced.  About 2000 SRO rooms have been lost to rent increases beyond what residents on welfare and old age pension can afford.  Last year alone, 170 condo units were built, only 24 new social housing units opened, and 425 more low-income units were lost to rent increases.  In Chinatown, 571 condos were approved in the last year and only 11 social housing units.  The City is encouraging high-end restaurants and condos which push up land values and raise rents so that low-income people can no longer afford to live and shop in their own neighbourhood.   If the City does not reverse this course, more DTES residents will be displaced and community assets that provide so much essential support to remaining low-income residents will be destroyed.

To set up a meeting with Dave and his representatives, please contact Wendy Pedersen at 604-839-0379 (please note that Wendy has not worked for CCAP since August 2012).  

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“We’re not about smashing windows.  We’re about smashing the old broken paradigms and building new paradigms that are more just and equal.”     – Homeless Dave

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