Immediate Release: September 21, 2009
Today, housing advocates won a long battle for a fair deal on Little Mountain Housing. Mayor Robertson announced that the City and the Province have agreed that the social housing components of the project will be built as a priority in the first phase of the development.
In addition, construction will begin on four new social housing sites in Vancouver this fall, along with the start of demolition work to prepare for the redevelopment of Little Mountain.
According to Councillor Woodsworth, who has fought hard for Little Mountain, “while I’m concerned that we are losing housing in the short term, I think the expedited development and the fact that remaining households will be allowed to stay on-site are very positive.” She continues, “there are some questions still to be answered, but there’s a possibility for a very interesting mixed-income, mixed-use neighbourhood to develop there.”
However, Woodsworth is not pleased with proposed BC Liberal legislation that could force homeless people into shelters (or jail) during extreme cold weather.
In addition to the civil rights concerns, “the legislation is incredibly hypocritical,” says Woodsworth. According to Wendy Pederson of Carnegie Community Action Project, "just between April 1st and September 13th of 2009, almost 2000 people were turned away from the city’s HEAT shelters because they were full.” Clearly, homeless people want to move inside but all the shelters are full.
Homelessness advocates are also concerned about the unintended effects of pushing homeless people – many with mental health issues – to “out of the way,” more dangerous places where they might go to avoid police. This concern could be particularly salient for women who may not want to go to shelters for safety reasons.
Councillor Woodsworth would like to see more funds released to build supportive housing. “This isn’t rocket science. We will save taxpayers millions of dollars in hospitalization and policing costs by putting people in homes and providing the supports for them to be successful” says Woodsworth.