Spencer Chandra Herbert: Our homeless neighbours are still waiting for housing

    1 of 1 2 of 1

      Every day, I hear from Vancouverites and British Columbians that they want to see an end to homelessness.

      They want “action yesterday” to get people who are sleeping in our doorsteps, in our parks, and in our alleyways brought inside to a place where they can get the support they need to live a full, safe, and productive life.

      As I’ve said before, and say again—our homeless neighbours are tired of being stepped over, and we don’t want to, and shouldn’t have to continue stepping over them.

      In the last two years, at least four homeless residents in the West End have died. I think of Tracey, Ken, Ed, and Jeremy. Each of their stories are different, and I can’t say I knew any of them too well. But I knew them as people who’d had a rough go, had warm hearts, and cared about their fellow citizens. They were British Columbians like you and I—they just didn’t have a home.

      On October 21, we lost Ken Chartrand to the hardships of the street, and homelessness. Ken was a soft-spoken man, who I’m told used to live in an apartment in the West End after attending the University in Manitoba. Somewhere along the way, he ended up on the streets, where he died alone in a wheelchair, and unnoticed for hours.

      But Ken was a man who did have friends and support in our community. I know of at least five different people and organizations, including my office, who tried to find Ken a place to live but were told again and again nothing was available.

      How is it that we’ve gotten to a place in society where a homeless senior, with ailing health, could not get into supportive housing, and was left to suffer on the street?

      The B.C. Liberal government has told Vancouverites for years that they will build supportive housing to get people off the streets in our city. In 2007, we were told the housing would be open before the Olympics if the city provided the land. The city did, and now three years later, none of the projects are complete, and less than half have broken ground.

      The Olympics have come and gone and the homeless are still on the same streets they were before. This is clearly unacceptable. We can and must do better.

      The last two winters the city and province did the right thing and opened temporary shelters, which filled up right away. But this year we still have no commitment from the B.C. government that these shelters will open at all.

      This is wrong. Homelessness has doubled in the last decade under this government.

      I don’t want to live in a society where it has become a regular occurrence that people die homeless on our streets. I believe we’re better than that as a people, as a community, and as a compassionate province. In memory of Ken, Tracey, Ed, Jeremy, and for all of those still struggling on our streets, let’s prove it.

      Spencer Chandra Herbert is the NDP MLA for Vancouver-West End.




      Nov 9, 2010 at 6:23pm

      I voted we turn the Kits Community Center into a homeless shelter.


      Nov 9, 2010 at 6:26pm

      And yet you believe that the answer lies in grotty, delapitated SROs concentrated in the DTES.

      You don`t solve homelessness by concentrating it. You follow the plan of the rest of the country by spreading social housing throughout all of metro and the province.

      But you continue to perpetuate the idea that people with no means have a right to live in downtown Vancouver.


      Nov 9, 2010 at 6:29pm

      I`ll add to that as well that if you have a better idea within the NDP to end homelessness, you should start by getting rid of your current leader. She is not only a proponent for the current status quo. She relies on it to stay in power.


      Nov 9, 2010 at 10:38pm

      Spencer, in the real world, pointing out problems without even attempting to resolve them is called bitching and nobody wants to hear it.

      Come up with some research on who these people are, how we can stop it from happening in the future and a proposed fix (with budget and funding sources) to solve the current problem and then people will begin to take you seriously.

      This piece in the GS reeks of cheap electioneering.

      james green

      Nov 9, 2010 at 11:59pm

      Let us be sure. It is all levels of government that have failed the homeless.
      The city has spent millions on capital project such as buying the Vanoc building for $21,000,000 and the province is spending $500,000,000 for a roof on BC place. The feds committed to $8,000,000 to reno the train station. This money and more should have been directed to homes for the homeless. No need to complain any longer about government as we the people need to act.
      We have to pick up the shovel and start building apartments and row housing now with the help and donated time and materials from cement companies,architects, carpenters, union and other workers, the suppliers of materials such as Rona, Home Depot, community volunteers, the city, the province and high school and university students and everyone who can hammer a nail, dig a ditch and those who have other building skills. We need to start a home lottery and a telethon to raise monies and gain matching funds from government and gain contributions from residents, banks ,credit unions, realstate companies and more.
      The city has the land and we the people cannot wait any longer while our brothers and sisters live and die on the streets. And we have to be sure that treatment centres, detox, health clinics, and all backup services are built in to these residences we build. It is time to act and with MLA Chandra Spencer's passion he could lead this effort.
      I for one am ready to act on this from a community level.
      We can no longer expect government to solve this problem. We the people have to do it NOW

      james green

      Nov 10, 2010 at 12:24am

      Damn, Shelters are not homes and without homes the problem just does not end. We need 4 to 600 square apartments for the homeless with attached services.


      Nov 10, 2010 at 7:15am

      My guess is they'll be waiting for a long time if this government stays in power. Right now we can see the corporations lining up to finance their latest puppet for the Fiberals. Unless the Fiberals are voted out nothing will change and even less money will be available.

      Jay Jones

      Nov 10, 2010 at 8:31am

      We're one of if not the wealthiest country's on Earth per capita.
      HOUSE and SECURE the lives of ALL Canadian citizens for CHRISTS sake!
      The problem with this city/country is those with power (politicians if you want to call them that) all come from a SHELTERED silver-spooned fed background.
      I challenge ANY politician to spend even just tonight outside with only the clothes on their back then tell me sheltering the homeless can wait another day.
      We have trillions of frickin' useless ministries in this country.
      Can't we just create one called "The Ministry Responsible for Making Sure NO Canadian Citizen dies in The Streets of Our Spoiled Country Due To No Home or Senseless Act of Violence" or something along those lines (preferrably shorter, that's just quickly off the top of my head).
      Any one of us or our cared ones could fall on hard times in the blink of an eye.
      They're Canadian citizens, not last nights trash!
      Politicians of Canada...get behind a "priority" cause and do at least one thing "truly" productive during your career.

      Mike Dean

      Nov 10, 2010 at 12:27pm

      I was heartened to read Spencer Chandra Herbert's comments.

      You would never see a Liberal MLA step up like this.

      This issue is about priorities.

      Half a billion for a new roof on BC Place yet we let out Brothers and Sisters freeze to death on our streets? Shameful. I know we can do better as a compassionate society.

      Imagine if other elected people took the time to address our homeless plight? We might actually be able to move towards solution.

      Kudo's Spencer.

      Let's have the debate, identify if we care more about billion dollar convention centers for visitors over homeless citizens most basic needs.

      Ray I

      Nov 10, 2010 at 12:42pm

      If our Mayor had agreed to sell the Olympic social housing and use the proceeds to build more affordable social housing your homeless neighbours would be a lot closer to have places to live!