By 2010, Mayor Sam Sullivan’s Project Civil City aims to cut homelessness by 50 percent. Is this a pipe dream?

Geoff Plant
Commissioner, Project Civil City and former attorney general of British Columbia

“It’s ambitious but it’s attainable. The 50-percent target is a signpost along the way. I don’t have a plan that is so fine-tuned that all we’re trying to do is get exactly 50 percent by 2010. I think there’s enough progress being made that we’re going to see a real difference by 2010. There’s not likely to be a refinement of the work Project Civil City is doing because the general goal in the area of homelessness is to eliminate homelessness by increasing housing opportunities.”

Yuly Chan
Organizer, Alliance for People’s Health

“I don’t think that objective will be met unless there are some serious priorities that are centered around poverty in Vancouver, and it’s growing. Unless they have plans to actually create a lot of affordable housing, provide a living wage, and stop privatizing public services like health care and public transit, homelessness will not go away. Homelessness is a health issue. Large numbers of people who are homeless also suffer from mental illness and are also more vulnerable to diseases, and they don’t have access to a healthy life.”

Kerry Jang
Member, Mental Health Commission of Canada

“It’s all a real sham because Project Civil City deals with homelessness by finding ways of locking people away. It does little to address the mental and physical needs of the homeless. It doesn’t offer solutions to prevent people from becoming homeless. There’s vague discussions about drug trials, which we don’t know the details. There’s not even a real housing plan. They keep on talking about relying on the provincial and federal governments to do something.”

Martha Lewis
Executive director, Tenant Resource and Advisory Centre

“There’s still a loss of private market [housing] units. Unless the government is going to miraculously create units that will replace what’s been lost in the private market, I don’t know how they can meet that target. We don’t see enough being done. The government insists on providing shelter—like all the SRO hotels that were bought at the Downtown Eastside are wonderful for protecting those rooms and improving the quality of housing for the people in those rooms—but they’re not new units.”

See also, Homeless count hides many.