Mayor Gregor Robertson on how you can help the homeless

Vancouver mayor Gregor Robertson issued the following statement this afternoon:

Early this morning, a homeless woman known on our streets as Tracey, died tragically, trying to stay warm during a freezing night in Vancouver.

Tracey’s death is exactly what we’re all trying so very hard to prevent by mobilizing every resource available to make sure no one else suffers the fate of Tracey and Mr. Darrell Mickasko, who died in a similar tragedy last winter.

It’s painfully clear that—for all the efforts of case workers, faith groups, police officers, governments and caring people across the Lower Mainland—people like Tracey and Mr. Mickasko need our very best if we’re going to prevent more suffering in the cold, cold days ahead.

I believe the people of Vancouver, and indeed all Canadians, share my sense of deep urgency when it comes to homelessness and health for our friends who are most at risk. We must redouble our efforts and commitment to ending the unacceptable status quo, and I want to urge every citizen to make whatever contribution they can to this important work.

The Vancouver we hold in our hearts cannot be a city where people die of exposure. Yet today, we face the second death this year.

There are gaps in our safety nets, despite the best efforts of police and street workers, and we’re going to work even harder to make sure we remove every barrier we can for people like Darrell and Tracey. We’re opening shelter space for people with carts and pets, who might otherwise avoid a shelter, and we’re going to keep working hard throughout this tough weather to protect people from harm.

At this time of year, when the spirit of generosity is in abundance, many of us look to ways we can assist those in need. Ending homelessness is the first priority for our council, and I get asked a lot about how people can help.

During these past few days with the cold weather, we’ve been flooded with calls from people asking how they can help. I’ve spoken with Janice Abbott of Atira Women’s Resource Society, and with Judy Graves, the City’s Homelessness Outreach Coordinator, and they’ve offered this list of items that those without homes this winter are most in need of:

- Blankets
- Bus tickets
- Winter coats
- Long-sleeved shirts
- Thermal underwear
- Wool socks
- Sleeping bags
- Tarps (preferably small)
- Hygiene items (combs, toothbrushes, soap, shampoo, nail clippers, etc)
- Boots

Donations can be made to Gather and Give, a non-profit charity that provides a centralized inventory for organizations working with those in need. It is open Tuesday-Saturday, and is located at 105-418 East Kent Avenue South—just east of Main and south of Southwest Marine Drive.


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Dec 21, 2008 at 7:37am

It is time for the homeless situation in Vancouver and across Canada be dealt with in a more serious fashion.
Divert tax dollars to stop homelessness before the need to live on the street arises. There is an acute need for food and shelter which must be met. Open up public buildings, provide security and washrooms. Give people back a little dignity. Stop focusing on the drug addicts, alcoholics and criminals. Help the mentally ill first. Then help the average citizen who has had one or two tough breaks and really has no reason to be on the street. There are more and more homeless coming from middle and even upper middle socio economic communities.
It's time to start looking at what causes homelessness (replace with hopelessness). Many of these people missed a couple of paycheques, have lost jobs or run in to one of life's many speed bumps. All they need is a little help. Would it not be better to help the senior citizen before she moves on to the street? Would it not be better to help the single mother before she is in the projects? Would it not be better to build communities where people can find help and support in their daily lives so they don't have to depend on drugs or alcohol to dull the pain.

The only way homelessness will end and it must is to go back to a person's last permanent address and find out what is causing our citizens to hit the streets.

Nobody wants to sleep outside - but not everybody can accept the conditions in homeless shelters, safety, health

Help the homeless
Mobile triage units - assess each individual and put on path to appropriate aid
Eliminate homelessness before it starts - help the needy

We provide humanitarian aid to third world countries when there are people living in conditions that rival third world. Unite the federal, provincial, municipal leaders with volunteers and community groups to work together under one umbrella

Come one people - let's return to higher moral standard


Jan 12, 2009 at 2:11pm

A high percentage of homeless people suffer from debilitating psychiatric symptoms that make even the most basic functioning difficult. They're seriously depressed, some suffer from mania, some have auditory and or visual hallucinations and perceptual distortions. Many suffer from paranoia. These problems are very frustrating. Add to this the problem of driving away the people closest to you who don't know how to help, and you have a group of people who are cut off from society- unsure of how to even begin to better their lot or how to address these problems. I speak from experience. I have been homeless, and also mentally ill. Thirty years ago I recovered via a suppressed nutritional alternative treatment mode called orthomolecular medicine- see See the documentary film Masks of Madness Right here in BC we have a great resource in Abram Hoffer, MD in Victoria who you can see in this film. I know him. Recently I communicated with him about the homeless problem in Vancouver and he sent me a white paper that he wrote which addresses his thoughts on how the city could employ orthomolecular medicine to help solve this problem. I would like to meet with Mayor Robertson if possible to discuss my thoughts on this, and to assist the City in assembling a Pilot Program for this purpose. I live a short distance outside Vancouver in Point Roberts Washington. If anyone reading this knows how I can get the mayor's attention with this idea, please get back to me. I need a way to reach him, but lack the contacts who might help me do this.

John Hammell, President
International Advocates For Health Freedom
556 Boundary Bay Rd.
Point Roberts WA 98281 USA
800-333-2553 H&W

Taxpayers R Us

Dec 26, 2010 at 11:48pm

I'm trying to keep a straight face here:

the same guy responsible for putting Vancouver $20 Million in the hole building unnecessary bike lanes, websites, and renovating his office is now telling us -the people who pay for his BS - that we should be paying for the homeless.

Hey Robertson, since you knew any spending would put the city into the reds, why didn't you spend the $20Mil on the homeless instead of trying to get us to pick up the tab??