"Homelessness in Vancouver has reached crisis levels," said COPE Cllr David Cadman."According to today’s release of the homeless count, more than 1500 people are living on Vancouver streets. And with people dying as a direct result of being homeless, City Hall has to act immediately."

The 2008 Metro Vancouver Homeless Count, conducted on March 10,  found that the number of  people without a home in Vancouver increased by 19 percent since 2005.

Cadman wants Mayor Sam Sullivan to scrap the Eco-Density policy of massive development in the Downtown East Side (DTES) that allows developers to scrap affordable housing and  build three units of high-price condos for every unit of affordable housing. He also wants the City to enforce its current DTES Housing Plan that requires a one-to-one replacement of low income housing in all condo redevelopments.

"If we continue with rampant condo development in Gastown, Chinatown and the DTES, without safeguards, all we’re doing is pushing prices up for all and driving people into the streets," said Cadman.

Meanwhile Cadman wants the City to release its list of rooms that are sitting empty and that could be used to house the homeless.

"The City has a list of single occupancy rooms that are being vacated by the owners," said Cadman. "We know of 54 empty units at the Colonial, and more than 100 units at Little Mountain that are empty and unused. The city can use its powers under the Standards of Maintenance By-law to make these rooms fit for occupancy."

Former Vancouver councillor and long-time housing advocate, Ellen Woodsworth, is concerned that homelessness is spreading across the city because Sullivan and his NPA councillors have failed to implement the 2005 Homelessness Action Plan, and the  Provincial Government is not doing enough to create more affordable housing.

"Now we are seeing homeless people  on Commercial Drive, Kitsilano, the West End and virtually every neighbourhood and in many city parks," said Woodsworth. "Meanwhile the province has a $250 million Housing Endowment Fund sitting unused in the bank."

"In just  the last four months,  375 single occupancy rooms, for many  the last stop before being on the street, have closed in the Downtown Eastside."

COPE calling for action on homeless crisis

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