Welfare rates mostly have been frozen in B.C. for a decade.
For a single employable person, it’s $610 a month.
Out of that amount, $375 is for shelter.
That leaves someone on social assistance $235 for food and all other things. Try living on $7.80 a day is what this means.
On the shopping strip of South Granville, panhandlers have refused offers of welfare.
They’re not interested, according to a Vancouver police report.
“The panhandlers have declined offers of support and assistance with housing needs,” Insp. Vince Forsberg wrote in the report.
Forsberg noted that the street persons have indicated that they seem to be making more from soliciting.
“Regular panhandlers suggest that they make approximately $1000 per month panhandling at this location and are not interested in welfare or other support offered,” Forsberg wrote.
Forsberg is with the operations division of district four of the Vancouver Police Department, which covers the southwest side of the city.
The police inspector was reporting to the Vancouver police board chaired by Mayor Gregor Robertson about a complaint filed by a business owner on the 2600 block of South Granville about panhandlers.
Forsberg related that there is a VPD Homeless Outreach and Supportive Housing Coordinator, who conducts outreach work with the homeless, and coordinates with mental health, addiction, housing providers, social assistance and welfare agencies, and municipal and provincial governments.
“This officer has personally attended the 2600 block Granville St several times,” Forsberg wrote in the report. “Only once has she come across anyone sitting in the block, and at the time they did not have a structure or tent with them. Any parties located are offered outreach and housing support, but these offers are generally declined.”
Forsberg recalled that he went to the 2600 block of Granville Street, and “spoke to a regular panhandler who was passively sitting near the complainant’s business”.
“His back was against the parking meter, with his head down reading a book while holding a paper cup for change. I introduced myself and explained why I had attended the area. I explained what the business owner’s concerns were and this party immediately indicated he would vary the locations where he panhandled,” Forsberg wrote.
The officer went on: “On June 8th and 9th, 2017 additional follow up occurred. Two ‘regulars’ were located: both advised that they would move from this location and vary their panhandling locations in the future.”
On June 16, Forsberg contacted the complainant by phone, and the business owner “indicated the homeless and panhandling situation has improved greatly”.
With the owner satisfied, Forsberg is recommending that the board dismiss the complaint at its meeting on Thursday (July 20).
A new government run by the B.C. NDP was sworn in Tuesday (July 18). During the last election campaign, New Democrats promised to raise welfare rates by $100.