Vancouver Interfaith Alliance presses Liberal and NDP leadership hopefuls on homelessness
A group of Vancouver religious and spiritual leaders is pressing the B.C. Liberal and New Democrat leadership hopefuls to each take a stand on ending homelessness.
The informal association, called the Vancouver Interfaith Alliance to End Homelessness, says it has also invited the candidates to participate in a tentative community forum on the issue.
Sandra Severs, with the Downtown Eastside’s First United Church, said as the leadership contests began to take shape, alliance members “were looking at what was being said around homelessness and not seeing very much”.
Speaking to the Straight today (February 4) by phone, Severs noted the City of Vancouver aims to end street homelessness by 2015, adding that goal needs to be “mirrored at a provincial level”.
The Vancouver Interfaith Alliance says it sent letters to the political contenders yesterday, asking them to outline their positions.
NDP leadership hopeful Mike Farnworth has already responded publicly. The MLA for Port Coquitlam acknowledged the province has a serious homelessness problem, which is fuelled by the poorly addressed issues of addiction and mental illness.
Farnworth identified three priorities for the province: working with local governments and developers to create more affordable housing; recommitting to the “four pillars” approach; and fostering the work of harm-reduction and HIV/AIDS-care programs with more funding.
“We haven’t heard directly from anyone else,” Severs said.
The community forum on homelessness and affordable housing will hopefully take place before the February 26 Liberal leadership vote, Severs said. But the location, date, and format have not been finalized.