For Immediate Release: May 24, 2011
COPE Councillors say new homeless numbers proof hard work can end housing crisis
COPE Councillors Ellen Woodsworth and David Cadman pointed to this morning’s Metro Vancouver homelessness count results as proof that hard work and real funding can end homelessness. “What these statistics show is that for the first time ever homelessness numbers have not gone up in Vancouver,” said David Cadman. “More people are getting shelter, but shelters are only the first step in the housing continuum.”
Cadman noted that the increased numbers seen in the sheltered population proves aggressive work can result in measurable progress. “The next step is to take that same approach, that dedication and hard work, and aggressively start to tackle supportive housing and build affordable rentals for everyone – for families, seniors and young people.”
Woodsworth said the report shows good things happen when all three levels of government work together. “We have 500 individuals who are housed right now because of the Mental Health Commission of Canada’s “At Home” study. We have hundreds more off the street because of Provincial funding of HEAT shelters. When the Feds and Victoria work with us, and provide real resources, we get real results.”
But Woodsworth pointed out that the “At Home” study expires in less than two years and that all but one HEAT shelter have been closed for the warmer months. “The question now is whether these positive results will convince senior levels of government that a long term, fully-funded, housing strategy is the best next step to end homelessness once and for all.”
Both Councillors, while positive about the numbers, said that much more work needs to be done. They each stressed that COPE will continue to press hard on the next critical steps in creating affordability in Vancouver including building more non-market rentals for new families and seniors and creating more space at the low end of market rentals.