Issue 3, Fall 2015

WARD - Volcano Fall 2015 CoverCover art by Karen Ward

The “national” housing policy we need
By the Editors
Anti-homelessness housing advocates have been calling for a “national housing strategy” ever since the federal Liberals stopped regular funding for Canada’s national social housing program in 1993. With this election it seems the demand has carried upwards and has been seized on by three of the four major parties seeking office. But while the words of the slogan have caught on, its spirit is wandering elsewhere. (…)

Cities alone cannot solve the housing crisis and it is misleading to say they can
By Ivan Drurymapleridgecopsatcamp
While living in the Mission area in 2013 I regularly picked up hitchhikers travelling on Lougheed Highway in the first rural area beyond the suburbs of Vancouver. The men I met on the highway were on the edge of homelessness or already there. (…)

Fight for Dignity – Abbotsford Homeless Await Court Decision
For 6 weeks this past summer, the Abbotsford chapter of the BC/Yukon Drug WaSurvivors and its team of lawyers have been in court. They are challenging the City of Abbotsford’s policies and treatment of homeless people, arguing that they violate the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. (…)

Landlords and developers continue to lobby for tax cuts
By Nathan Crompton
During this year’s federal elections we have been hearing again from BC’s pro-developer lobbyists. This time it’s the BC Rental Housing Coalition. The group is headed by the Urban Development Institute (UDI), BC’s largest developer coalition, as well as LandlordBC, the industry association representing owners and managers of rental housing in BC. (…)

The Truth about Rent Subsides
By Sarah SheridanHomeless Forecast image - COMIC - City housing solution_Debra McNaught copy
In 2013, Housing Minister Rich Coleman told The Globe and Mail that British Columbia has “the most aggressive housing strategy in the country”. In January of 2015 he wrote an article in The Georgia Straight stating, “Rental assistance is so effective we created the new Homeless Prevention Program to provide people at-risk of homelessness with rent supplements to help them stay in the private market.” But if rent subsidy programs are so “effective,” why is homelessness increasing? (…) (Article also includes a supplement on experience with rent supplements in the U.S.)

Homeless Counts for What?
By Scott Neufeld
Every year since 2010 the City of Vancouver has counted its homeless residents. Around four hundred volunteers are recruited, trained, and sent out to lie in wait at Vancouver shelters or hit the streets to follow predetermined routes in search of their homeless quarry. (…)

Who’s experiencing the real housing crisis? The homeless or young professionals?
By Ivan Drury
Are young professionals who can’t afford to buy a single-family home in a similar “housing crisis” to people who sleep on the street? When I did a Google News search in the early Fall of 2015 I found “housing crisis” + “homelessness” yields 1,550 results, while “housing crisis” + “ownership” produced 1,850 entries. (…)

Demo-victions in Metrotown and a new anti-displacement movement
By Dave DiewertP9191737
The housing crisis in BC has many faces. It is most starkly visible in the homeless camps that have caught media attention in Vancouver, Maple Ridge, Abbotsford, Victoria, and elsewhere, where tents, make-shift structures and people in need of shelter fill public spaces and force confrontations with local property owners and municipal governments. But housing vulnerability and the experience of displacement takes many other forms as well. (…)

Metrotown Demolitions Displace Communities
By Kaye Bedford
My particular circumstances upon arriving here were difficult to say the least.  I couldn’t afford a car and I was simply trying to work as hard as I could to stay afloat.  My saving grace in many aspects were the amenities that could be found within close proximity to where I lived.  More specifically, sharing a small apartment in Metrotown provided the positive circumstances to help me find stability. (…)

Maple Ridge homeless still need a tent city
The Cliff Avenue tent city is only the visible tip of the iceberg of homelessness in Maple Ridge, where people live in temporary camps hidden from sight throughout and around the city. The difference between Cliff Avenue and other Maple Ridge homeless camps is that Mayor Nicole Read has, throughout the spring and summer, ordered police and bylaw officers to leave Cliff Avenue campers alone while other camps have suffered their harassment. (…)

What happened to a National (Social) Housing Strategy?
By Sarah Sheridan
People across Canada are facing hours of sifting through newspaper articles, watching interviews, and following tweets from MPs in hopes of gaining clarity about their federal party platforms and promises about housing. Sometimes op-eds, press conferences, and news releases add to the confusion. (…)

Vancouver’s new hotel bylaw: salvation or smokescreen?
By Jean Swanson
Did Vancouver City Council make changes to its SRO hotel room bylaw that will help stop renovictions? Or did the July changes actually take away powers that the city could have used to prevent renovictions and rent increases? (…)

Tales from the Regent
By Joey ADowntown eastside hotels.
I live in an SRO (single room occupancy) hotel in the Downtown Eastside (DTES) of Vancouver, in what I devoutly hope is a temporary living arrangement. The Regent is rated the second-worst hotel in the city, surpassed only by its sister hotel, the Balmoral, located directly across the street and owned by the same scum-sucking landlord. (…)

Vancouver homelessness forecast for 2016
By Jean Swanson and Maria Wallstam
Homelessness in Vancouver could increase by hundreds next year unless all levels of government act now. For the last two years Vancouver has had record high numbers of homeless people; in 2015 the count was 1,746, down 57 from the previous year but still up 146 from 2013. (…)

Marching together for housing justice
By Karen Ward
The VANDU Housing March is happening in the week prior to the federal election. We hope to garner some attention in the city at large and reopen a pretty stagnant conversation about public housing and about the housing crisis more widely. (…)

Beyond the Foreign Investment Debate
By Maria Wallstam & Nathan CromptonForeign investment_Chinatown Mural defaced_credit to ounodesign copy
The latest development is a growing number of Vancouverites rallying around the call for “more data” on foreign investment. At the national level, Harper has taken up this call for foreign data as a central plank in the Conservative housing platform. But when it comes to the housing crisis, is data on foreign investment the most pressing problem? Does it even make sense to distinguish between local and foreign capital? (…)

Death by Cops on the Rise in BC
By Dave Diewert
Despite new training programs, police are killing people at increasing rates in BC. Over the past 12 months there have been 16 known police-involved deaths in BC. All of the victims were men, and many were under 30 years old (…)

Sex work laws criminalize a necessary community of women
By Sex Workers United Against Violence (SWUAV)SWUAV pic for Volcano copy
What this study demonstrated is something that we and others who have been working in peer-led organizations have known for years: sex workers experience better health and safety when they are able to work in community with one another, rather than in isolation. (…)

End the War on Drug Dealers
By Dionne Molloy
On July 16, 2015, the Victoria Police Department issued warrants for 16 suspected drug dealers accused of preying on people who use shelters in Victoria. The result of a 6-week undercover sting in Our Place and Rock Bay Landing shelters saw a combined total of nineteen counts of trafficking issued to these suspects who were also identified by police as gang affiliated. The sting and media following the incident made a distinction between the “deserving” and “undeserving” poor. (…)

Fentanyl: its deadly effects don’t discriminate, but they expose social discrimination
By Phoenix Winter
I was struck by the news coverage of the deaths from Fentanyl. When people in the Downtown Eastside (DTES) overdose, there is barely any coverage, and we don’t know people’s names. But when a couple in North Vancouver died from a Fentanyl overdose in July, the media said, “They came from a good family.” Don’t people in the DTES also come from good families? (…)

Canada’s Refugee Crisis
By Sozan Savehilaghineverhome_welcome copy
Over the past month the plight of refugees has been gaining attention in mainstream and social media. When the bodies of the Kurdi family were found on Turkish shores as they tried to reach Greece by boat, it seemed the tragedy and injustice faced by the 60 million global refugees finally had faces and stories beyond just statistics – albeit too late for Alan, Ghalib and their mother Rehanna Kurdi, as well as the countless others we have lost. (…)

“Never Home” report reveals the truth about migration to Canada
By Harold Lavender
The NeverHome multi-media website ( produced by No One is Illegal is an invaluable and timely resource. More than 50 people put in over 1000 hours to produce this creative and detailed account of the Harper government’s extremely harsh changes to immigration and refugee policy. (…)

You can’t vote against the free market: Lessons from the Greek struggle against austerity
By Ivan DruryGREECE Bank of Berlin copy
This was almost the summer that the army of austerity got turned back at the Greek gates. Had they won, the lessons from Greece could have been: a powerful social movement can open space in parliamentary politics for the return of social democracy, which can reverse the damage neoliberals have done to the social safety net over the last thirty years (…)

The Challenge Is Whether To Squat Or Deal
By Kym Hines
Micro Housing was brought to L’kwungen Territory as a result of Bobby Arbess approaching me with the idea as a member of the Committee To End Homelessness Victoria (CTEHV). (…)

A Tale of Two Art Galleries
By Jean Swanson
One costs $20 to get in. The other is free. One is backed by the rich. The other is revered by low-income Downtown Eastside (DTES) residents. One got $50 million from the province, $23 million from donors, and about $200 worth of land and foregone taxes from the city. The other got its funding cut by Vancouver Coastal Health. (…)

Working Towards an Open, Tolerant Society: Closing Thoughts on Phase 1 of the Right to Remain Project
By Herb Varley
Canada likes to present itself to the world in a certain way. The image of Canada is often that of an open, tolerant, society; one that anyone can come to and thrive in, just as long as they work hard. One thing that we have learned over the course of the “Right to Remain” project is that this image of Canada is largely a work of fiction. (…)

Learning to Live on Shared Territory: Report and reflections on the “Train of Thought” cultural exchange tour
By Savannah Waling, with a story from Priscillia Tait
The Train of Thought was the culmination of ten years of planning, but it felt like a first step on a much longer journey. (…)

Time to Flood the System
By Sean Phipps
Another year and another climate conference. This December, 196 countries will meet in Paris to address the ongoing climate crisis, as they have done for the last 21 years. Twenty-one years of failed agreements, sky-rocketing emissions, and rising temperatures. What makes them think this year will be any different? (…)

Wheel of Misfortune to spin at October’s SRO Tenant Convention
By Arnold Nokohoot
The second annual SRO Tenant Convention is coming up on Sunday October 18th, 10am-5pm at the Vancouver Japanese Language Hall at 487 Alexander Street. This year’s convention promises to be even more spectacular than last year’s event, with lots of exciting activities throughout the day, delicious food, and lots of door and cash prizes of $100, $50, $25 to be won. (…)

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