Housing activist Wendy Pedersen demands more of Premier Campbell

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      Here is an extended excerpt of a speech given by Carnegie Community Action Project spokesperson  Wendy Pedersen at a housing protest outside the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention on Friday (October 3):

      We want more social housing. We want better incomes....[Premier Gordon Campbell]  could help the municipalities. All of the mayors and councillors who are here today could be helped if Campbell would put money in housing. He could help so many people.

      In terms of spending, that trade and convention centre cost almost a billion dollars.  A billion dollars would buy 4,250 deluxe, inner-city homes for people who cannot compete in the hyper real-estate market.

      They're spending a billion on security [for the Olympics]. That would buy almost 5,000 really deluxe, great homes for people who can't afford them.

      Campbell announced two years ago—in this spot at the UBCM—he announced he was going to have a housing budget. And he was going to put $250 million in a housing endowment fund.

      Guess where that money is now? It's in the bank. It's not being spent on housing.

      That $250 million would buy 1,200 units of decent, wonderful housing right now. It would help the economy. It would help jobs. And it would be decent and humane for the people who need them.

      You know there is 12,000 to 15,000 homeless people across British Columbia. Why are the priorities not homelessness at this convention?

      British Columbia has the great record now for the sixth year in a row of having the highest poverty in Canada. The highest poverty rate. Right here in British Columbia. It's so not right.

      So another thing Campbell promised two years ago at this convention—he promised to build 1,200 units of housing in the city of Vancouver. Guess how many are built? None. They're coming.

      Why did we get all of the Olympic projects on time and why don't we get our miniscule housing projects on time? We're not even getting minuscule.

      So you know, my queston before I turn it over is—I want to know what the premier, what he plans to do, with the 700 people who are homeless in my neighbourhood, the Downtown Eastside.

      What does he plan to do with the 5,000 people who are living in the crappiest housing conditions in Canada in the single-room-occupancy hotel rooms?

      What is he planning to do? Is it going to take him 53 years—that we calculate at the rate they're going—that it will take to replace those homes? We need a home-building program.

      And what is he going to do for the kids in Strathcona at the elementary school? Their parents are choosing between whether they're paying their rent or whether they're feeding their kids.



      I want a free house too!

      Oct 6, 2009 at 3:00pm

      Let's take a little bit of money from everyone in the province and give it to me so that I can have one. That would be fair to everyone else, right? Maybe I'm homeless and drug addicted, maybe I'm 'working poor', or maybe I work pretty hard, enough to support myself and maybe get a house 15 years or so down the road in the 'burbs. Is it any more or less fair for me to get a free house from the other taxpayers because of my ability/inclination to earn money?

      Man it would be sweet to shoot heroin every day, get people to put money in my cup, and then come home to a free house. Go socialism.

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      Just a Dream...unfortunately

      Oct 18, 2009 at 5:19pm

      It is a sad but true statement, British Columbia is one of the few Provinces to still build housing in this country. Canada through devolution of social programs has transferred this responsibilty to provinces, who in turn devolve it to municipalities. Do a little reseach and check out the Canadian Health and Social Transfer Agreement, once you do that , you can see how the federal liberals under Cretien/Martin, where able to maintain surplus' from 1996 until recently.Interestly enough the majority of voters do not realize this, and then blame one level of government while letting the other levels off. This process impacts all social program areas, what this country use to stand for has diminished significantly since 1996, thats why you see healthcare all over the map, from province to province. I think we would be better off just separating from Canada, as it just cost us too much, and then perhaps all the money we send to Ottawa can be put into much needed programs here.

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