While Vancouver is facing a crisis with more than 2,000 homeless people on the streets, NPA Mayor Sam Sullivan is applauding Premier Campbell’s plan to fund overnight shelters to clear the streets for the 2010 Olympics.

“Sullivan should be pressing for more social housing,” said COPE External Co-Chairperson, and former City Councillor, Ellen Wordsworth. “Sullivan has yet to propose a single new unit of social housing in his Project Civil City. Nor does his much-touted Ecodensity plan mention social housing. Meanwhile the NPA cut the one third affordable housing that was planned for Southeast False Creek.”

Woodsworth is concerned the homeless problem will more than double by the Olympics with even more seniors, youth and those on low income at risk of homelessness.

“Rental units are being lost as they are converted to stratas, rents are soaring and existing shelters don’t solve the problem,” said Woodsworth. “Why doesn’t Sullivan implement the City of Vancouver Homeless Action Plan? Vancouver has a representative on the VANOC Board which promised to deliver 3,200 more units of social housing.”

October 15 – 21 has been declared Homeless Action Week in BC. On October 17, UN special envoy on housing Miloon Kothari will be in Vancouver to examine BC’s housing crisis. Kothari will also be meeting with Vanoc and government officials. Meanwhile long-term housing advocates are concerned that homelessness will only get worse.

"Rooming houses and hotels are falling like flies," said Jean Swanson of the Carnegie Community Action Project. “Twenty-two residential hotels were sold in 2006, with a combined total of 1,178 rooms. By adding the number of rooms from which tenants were evicted to the number from which tenants were forced out by rising rates, 600 low-income rooms were lost that year.”

"If we lose 600 more this year, another 600 in 2008, and 600 again in 2009, that’s 2,400 units of low-income housing likely to vanish before the Olympics.”

Homeless need long-term housing, says COPE