The NDP MLA for Vancouver-Mount Pleasant, Jenny Kwan, has written to the housing minister seeking "urgent assistance" for homeless campers in Oppenheimer Park.
Kwan's letter to Rich Coleman, who's also deputy premier, points out that the campers have compiled a list of 40 homeless people living in the Downtown Eastside park.
"To give you a glimpse of the make-up of the campers; they are singles, couples, men and women, seniors; some are individuals with disabilities or serious chronic illnesses; some have struggled with addiction," Kwan wrote. "There is an expectant woman who is expecting to deliver her baby later this year."
(To read the full letter, click the "downloads" tab above.)
Kwan, whose constituency includes Oppenheimer Park, stated in the letter that the campers are "seeking relative safety and support with and amongst each other".
"There is no question that an effective approach to ending homelessness requires the partnership of all levels of government via a long term comprehensive strategy," she stated. "For the immediate present, I appeal to your Ministry to provide urgent assistance. Offers of secure, affordable, and appropriate housing would go a long way to ensuring the well-being of these constituents."
She pointed out that one aboriginal man told her that "shelters remind some elders of their traumatic residential school experiences".
To her, this indicates a need for "expanded culturally appropriate shelter facilities".
Kwan also mentioned that some of the campers say temporary stays in shelters don't work for everyone.
She closed her letter by saying she's "committed to working cooperatively in any way possible to ensure that individuals facing homelessness in our community are able to access housing in a timely manner".