How to end homelessness in Vancouver

December 10, 2008 at 11:25 pm 4 comments

The Tyee has an amazing new series on homelessness where experts candidly give real solutions to homelessness. Not abstract hypotheticals, but real, doable steps that can be done now. These recommendations can easily be applied to Victoria.

How to end homelessness in Vancouver

Part 1 tells why we need to solve homelessness, and details the two policies that are the backbone of the solution: “Housing First”, and treatment on demand.

Part 2 lists 50 ways to help the homeless. Here’s the top three that can be implemented immediately:

1.) Appoint a Homelessness Czar, who will be responsible for coordinating housing efforts among governments and non-governmental organizations.

2.) Ask property owners to help. Make an offer to the owner of every closed hotel or shuttered apartment building in the city: Lease your building for use by BC Housing and/or a non-profit housing manager for a period of at least three years, and the city will both give you a tax break and allow your development application to proceed without interruption.

3.) Rezone the southern half of the city for rooming houses. Large homes built for extended families dot the city’s southern slope. But as the makeup of those families evolves, some of those homes are under-used. Encourage their reuse as old-fashioned rooming houses — not for the homeless per se — but affordable housing for the students and working singles who increasingly displace the homeless from residential hotels.

I’m not sure if Victoria has a homeless czar. We have the co-chairs of the Greater Victoria Coalition to end Homelessness, which is (was?) the Mayor and Ted Hughes. Presumably, Dean Fortin will take over where Alan Lowe left off. Hughes has complained his Coalition doesn’t have the teeth to implement some of the necessary measures. A homelessness czar needs the power to make things happen without having to beg favours from junior bureaucrats.

Victoria has a good-sized inventory of buildings suitable for housing of this type. Much of it is in the hands of private landlords. Some are currently vacant rooming houses that have been empty for years. I’m thinking specifically of the old rooming houses on Yates St. in Fernwood and Cook St. just south of Bay.

Entry filed under: social issues, urban design.

T/C: Council must act now on homelessness Council assignments: update

4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Davin  |  December 11, 2008 at 11:00 am


    I’ve seen these houses you’re talking about, wondering what they were for or if they’ll ever be used. What will it take for us to having a “Housing Czar?”

  • 2. robertrandall  |  December 11, 2008 at 5:54 pm

    I’ve learned today that Alan Lowe will remain co-chair of the Coalition for the time being. The problem is neither Lowe nor Hughes has any real enforcement or political power.

    A czar is more common in the US (look up “energy czar” or the newest “car czar”). The great thing about a czar is that it’s a “buck stops here” type position. If the coalition gets off track or is otherwise performing poorly the responsibility lies with one person, avoiding the buck passing and finger pointing endemic in multi-faceted intergovernmental organizations.

  • 3. Colleen  |  February 15, 2009 at 12:50 pm

    The Homeless are not just singles they are the poor wether they be children, youth, women, disabled etc as they all only receive token amounts for food and rent as province says get real you can’t expect us to give these people enought to rent a place or live. And the Canadian Line can gets its own police force yet we got major crime happening in our city stinks for sure as no other business would be handed over a police force for loose change and having officers ticket the poor while crack and coke is only minutes away. While others are dying from drugs gone bad and ambulances are forced to leave many in very dangerous situations so it has a rippling affect as drivers felt bad when the little girl died as it took them to long to get their as they will never be sure. And so much more …….

  • 4. Colleen  |  February 15, 2009 at 12:57 pm

    And you know what Its all talk as its a Campbell thing, just keep the mashes talking this way they will feel like something is being done. Its been over 5 years since people were put to the streets and citizens have been asking for solutions and your right there have been some ideas that could fly but it talk thats all it is. And what about the Premier’s great Vision for the province in the new Era wouldn’t you have to agree the man is a whole lot short sited as I’m thinking he couldn’t get past his own self interests. And now we will all pay the price.


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