Vancouver police crime stats contradict Yaletown homeless shelter foes

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      Weeks after two homeless facilities opened on the west edge of Yaletown, a petition calling for their removal is more than halfway to its goal of 1,000 signatures.

      “Get them out of this neighbourhood—it doesn’t make sense,” said Veronica Madore, a founding member of the North False Creek Business and Residents Association, the group that launched the campaign.

      She told the Straight that residents’ main concern is the “drugs and crime that follows”.

      But the Vancouver Police Department has not recorded any increases in crime in the areas surrounding the two new facilities. According to Const. Brian Montague, the site at 1335 Howe Street recorded five calls over the course of the past month while the shelter at 900 Pacific Street saw only two.

      “It’s really not a lot,” the VPD spokesperson told the Straight by phone. “We might see that in an average apartment building in the West End.”

      The Pacific Street shelter made 70 beds available at the end of September, and Howe Street began providing interim housing to 157 people in early November.

      Montague stressed that it is “really hard” to describe trends for such a short time line. But he added that, for now, statistics that would indicate a spike in crime related to the shelters do not exist.

      He noted a number of factors could account for the discrepancy from petition signatories’ perceptions. “A lot of the things that residents might be upset about, we might never hear about because they are not criminal in nature or, for some other reason, are not being reported,” Montague said.

      Madore described the city’s efforts to provide shelter as “well-intended” but argued that new facilities in Yaletown are not the answer to the city's homeless problem.

      “This is not a long-term solution for the homeless, throwing them into different locations all over the city, whatever happens to be available, without the support systems that they need,” Madore said.

      She described the Downtown Eastside is a more suitable location on account of the concentration of social services there.

      “They do have a community there,” Madore said. “Yes, the drugs and the crime are there. But so are all of those social services where there is already millions of dollars being spent. Why aren’t these millions of dollars [going to new shelters] fixing up those housing units [in the Downtown Eastside] so that these folks can live there and be supported by everything that we’re already paying for?”

      Wes Regan, executive director of the Hastings Crossing Business Improvement Association, said the Downtown Eastside is proving businesses can thrive alongside the delivery of support for marginalized groups. As evidence, Regan pointed to social enterprises like Mission Possible that help people find employment while transitioning out of homelessness.

      At the same time, Regan argued, his neighbourhood cannot support Vancouver’s homeless population on its own. “We need to take responsibility across the city for this issue and not just hoist it on nonprofits in the Downtown Eastside,” he said. “If we try and concentrate all of this in one part of the city, as we are seeing, it becomes untenable.”

      Vision Vancouver councillor Kerry Jang acknowledged Yaletown residents’ concerns, but he told the Straight that he hears the same complaints every time the city opens a shelter for the homeless.

      Citing community consultation conducted one year after the opening of a shelter at 3475 East Hastings, he said that what was an initial uproar has all but entirely subsided.

      “There’s fear,” he suggested. “When we have an opportunity to meet with the residents, find out what the problem is, what they’re scared of, and we put measures in place to take care of those fears, then things go fine. And that’s what we’re doing at these [Yaletown] facilities.”

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      Dec 10, 2014 at 1:56pm

      I know, right? Why don't these homeless just, I dunno, move their stuff into their BMW X5s and take it to the cabin in Whistler? Sure, it may mean that they can't have their friends up to the chalet, and then there is the whole question of finding an acceptable Doggy Daycare, but you know we Yaletown people have had to suffer and overcome too, you know! The sound of construction is simply beastly, and with the cost of a new stainless kitchen, we have gone back to getting our croissants from the the RAIN!

      Tara Sundberg

      Dec 10, 2014 at 3:00pm

      NIMBYs really make me laugh (sad laughter, though).
      It's great that the VPD is coming back with some actual statistics that refute what these uncaring residents are saying. Their petition isn't worth the virtual paper it's written on... Not to mention that plenty of crime is going on INSIDE these upscale towers in Yaletown, people who carry concealed weapons might live next door to you, but because they carry Louis Vuitton and drive BMWs you don't fear them...
      Please have some compassion and remember that these are all human beings, teach that to your children you purport to be so worried about. Not all homeless people are addicts, and even if they are they still deserve dignity. Integrated communities are much more successful at lifting the downtrodden out of despair. Suggesting that the ghetto is the only place for shelters shows such a lack of human decency it's appalling.
      There IS access to services in the neighborhood, by the way. Three Bridges at 1292 Hornby, as well as methadone doctors on Granville and Drake, not to mention the staff at the shelters are well trained and have experience being compassionate and advocating for their clients.
      One suggestion would be some community ambassadors, employed by the city to patrol the areas, with the ability to collect sharps if they see them and deter "criminal activity". It works on Commercial drive.

      Peter Day

      Dec 10, 2014 at 4:25pm

      Shelters are not housing, they are emergency receptions for all kinds of people.

      The problems arise when there are clients who need more care and do not fit with others inside or outside of the shelter.

      Which leads to the biggest problem, people in shelters have nothing to do all day long.

      Shon Togan

      Dec 10, 2014 at 4:26pm

      Errr... I think maybe some commentors have the wrong idea about the majority of Yaletowners. Mostly they're just greasy, middle-class wannabees looking to protect their closet-sized 'investment' from losing value. Sure, there's a few high-end drug dealers, foreign ex-pats who are fighting extradition on money laundering charges, etc, but the the vast majority are simply the sad, pathetic progeny of West Side types, who've been far more successful at avoiding civic duties like social housing or permitting the introduction of any social services into their neighbourhoods.
      Nothing to see here but the typical Vancouver whiners, shirking their espoused, highly vocal 'political beliefs' when it might impact their ROI.


      Dec 10, 2014 at 6:47pm

      @Shon Togan....being a private contractor and working in Yaletown on a regular basis, I have to agree with everything you so eloquently said!

      Ronnie Lonnie Ding Dong

      Dec 11, 2014 at 8:07am

      I remember when Yaletown was just a post-Expo mud pit flanking a bunch of decrepit warehouses off the raw sewage shit pond that was False Creek pre-remediation.

      The well-to-do residents have not improved the area culturally.

      The Truth

      Dec 11, 2014 at 9:06am

      There was a shooting outside a housing project in mid-town within the last few weeks. That area just so happens to be the new homeless dumping ground for Vision. Coincidence? Why didn't the VPD say shootings have gone up 100% in that area? Sure you can say you want social housing yada yada yada and people against it are terrible people. However, most people aren't all the fine with a shooting in their neighborhood despite talking tough on the internet. What if you were shot walking to the store? Also, people don't report crimes these people commit because it's so frequent. If they harass you, shoot heroin in your alley or break into your car do you even call the Cops? No. Then some windbag from the VPD says there is no crime. There's just no crime reported because the Cops are useless.


      Dec 11, 2014 at 10:14am

      @TheTruth, what does a shooting have to do with the housing project you mention?


      Dec 11, 2014 at 11:18am

      People don't report property crime and other "victimless crimes" because they know the police won't do me...getting your car window smashed out for a loonie isn't "victimless".