Poor people will gather outside Port Coquitlam courthouse in rally against "anti-homeless hate"

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      Antipoverty activists have held rallies in several Lower Mainland cities over the years to focus attention on homelessness.

      We've seen tent cities in Vancouver, including some that have become highly politicized.

      Groups like Acorn B.C. and Against Displacement have organized tenants in Metrotown to criticize the actions of Burnaby council.

      Surrey, Maple Ridge, and Abbotsford have also been the sites of protests.

      Today, the first such action will take place in Port Coquitlam.

      Homeless people and their allies will congregate outside the Port Coquitlam courthouse (2620 Mary Hill Road) at 1 p.m., and then march through the city's streets in a rally against "anti-homeless hate".

      According to the Alliance Against Displacement, this will be a protest against the "Tri-Cities model", which has been cited by former Poco mayor Greg Moore to explain why this region has proportionally fewer homeless people.

      The activists say this model actually consists of sending bylaw officers and cops "to harass us, steal and destroy our stuff, and drive us into hiding".

      And that, they claim, is why the homeless counts are so much lower in the Tri-Cities than in other parts of the region.

      Moore has told the Straight that this simply isn't true.

      "In fact, I was one of the biggest champions to find homes for our residents who were living on the streets," Moore stated. "When I first became mayor I started the Mayors Task Force to End Homelessness, which resulted in starting Homes For Good Society. Our organization was the first groups to implement a Housing First strategy and I chaired the organization for six years."

      He added that when he was elected mayor in 2008, there were more than 225 homeless in his city. By the time he left office, this fell to below 50.

      The 2018 Youth Homeless Count in Metro Vancouver concluded that there were 681 youths and children between 13 to 24 years old who were experiencing homeless in the region between April 4 and 12 of that year. More than a quarter, 26 percent, self-identified as lesbian, gay, transgender, queer, or two-spirit.

      Only 20 of the 681 were in the Tri-Cities (Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam, and Port Moody), whereas 349 were in Vancouver and 106 were in Surrey.

      The 2017 Homeless Count in Metro Vancouver reported that 3,605 people were found to be experiencing homelessness over a 24-hour period on March 8 of that year. Only three percent, or 117 people, were located in the Tri-Cities.

      The most recent Vancouver count showed there were 2,223 homeless people in the region's most populous city. 

      Back in 2013, Toronto urban-planning consultant Ken Greenberg told the Straight that the rising popularity of neighbourhoods built before the First World War—including Vancouver's Downtown Eastside and downtown New Westminster—were pushing low-income people further into the suburbs where there are fewer services.

      Because low-income people usually don't have cars, this migration to the suburbs can create new challenges accessing services, according to Greenberg.

      At the extreme end, the poor can find themselves living in "food deserts" where they have to travel significant distances just to obtain groceries.