Abubakar Khan: Let's address loneliness in Vancouver with innovative solutions to the housing shortage

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      By Abubakar Khan

      Dear Vancouver,

      Outside, on the bus, in the elevator—I walk by speechless people, staring at the floor. I think about my student debt. I think about how I don’t know where I’m going to live, once this campaign ends. I think about whether my friends and I will have to move someplace else. I think about how lonely Vancouver can be.

      And I know that the other people in this elevator feel the same way. 

      I know seniors panicked that they’ll be evicted from the communities—the shops, the parks, the friends who are like family—that they’ve known for decades. I know parents who’ve been forced into houses they work every hour to afford. I know students who pay $900 every month, to live in an actual closet.

      And what we all share, aside from the financial pressure of this city, is the cold feeling that we’re alone. That our neighbours are drowning and can’t listen, and that city hall just doesn’t care.

      So we keep quiet. And we feel even more isolated.

      My name is Abubakar Khan, and I’m running for Vancouver city council to help change that. To make Vancouverites feel less alone and better cared for, to connect them to a government that cares, and neighbours with the time to know their names.

      And that means doing two things.

      First, it means dealing with the affordability crisis in an innovative way. It means supporting traditional policies—like creating high-density zones and using municipal funds to build affordable housing—while also partnering with the tech industry to solve local problems. Which is why our campaign has endorsed Permit.io—a program to partially digitize Vancouver’s building permit process. Because when barriers to building add $600,000 to the price of a new home, cutting those simple costs could make all our lives easier—and make us all more open to each other.

      Second, it means tying people together, directly. It means securing full provincial coverage for psychotherapy, so we can have support when we really need it. It means more citywide events—food festivals, block parties, art projects—and cheaper community centre fees. It means building our shared memories, by the minute. 

      And for seniors specifically, it means encouraging intergenerational housing with young people—who themselves need cheaper spaces—and cutting public transit costs, to keep them connected to their communities. It means no longer letting the most compassionate of our population feel the most alone. 

      And it means collaborating with movements like Beyond the Conversation, to tie us even closer. Beyond has held marches and rallies to reduce the stigma around loneliness and mental health, and peer-support and outreach to give us the togetherness we need. They’ve endorsed our campaign, and we endorse them back. We’re incredibly proud of the work they’ve done.

      Let me be completely honest: it’s hard to love what Vancouver’s becoming. Somewhere with storefronts but no life. With customers, but no people. With neighbourhoods, but no communities. A city with nothing at its centre, and no one that it’s built for. 

      But we can make it all turn out differently. We can bring everyone in Vancouver—seniors and young people, families, businesses, and professionals—together to make a closer-knit, more nurturing city. 

      So let’s get to the polls on October 20th—and ask for something different.

      Go to khanforcouncil.ca for more information on how we’re #BetterTogether.