The Whalley Window – February 2018
Homes Not Jails! Windows Not Bars!
Download the PDF of The Whalley Window – Issue 7.
HOMELESS PEOPLE ENVISION THE HOUSING THEY NEED
BY RESIDENTS OF ANITA PLACE TENT CITY
In the fall of 2017, homeless residents of Anita Place Tent City in Maple Ridge discussed their ideas for adequate and secure social housing, drafted a document that brought together these ideas, and formulated them into demands that they took into negotiations with the provincial government. Here is a short, edited version of their vision and demands.
Anita Place tent city started on May 2nd, 2017 to give homeless people in Maple Ridge a place to stay, a place to be, and a place to be safe… and a place to advocate for the social housing we so desperately need. We won’t settle for human warehouses called “shelters;” we demand decent, dignified housing – apartments that we can call home.
Our camp is just the visible tip of the iceberg of homelessness in Maple Ridge. Anita Place tent city represents a much larger community than the number of people who are staying in camp at any given moment. We are fighting for housing for the 200 homeless people in Maple Ridge; and we stand united with low-income communities in Vancouver, Surrey, Victoria, and everywhere in BC who badly need permanent, publicly owned and secure social housing.
We demand that the provincial government build 200 units of permanent and dignified social housing in Maple Ridge – self-contained apartments, 600 sq/ft (minimum), at welfare and pension rates, with tenants’ rights protected by the Residential Tenancy Act. We want one quarter of the units to be larger in size (2 and 3 bedrooms) so we can get custody of our kids back, and we need it to be pet friendly.
We want our housing to be run by a committee of residents, not a housing agency or service provider. We reject management organizations that deny entrance to our guests, surveil us with cameras, and arbitrarily inspect our rooms. We won’t be conned into “supportive” housing that is operated as an institution of containment, regulation and control.
Social housing buildings can also house basic services and resources that the broader low-income community depends on for survival. Maintenance and cleaning of the building could provide work opportunities for residents; and there could be health care services like a safer consumption site, an emergency clinic, a 24-hour (trans-inclusive) women’s drop-in, and counseling services.
We demand homes for ourselves and for all others who are homeless in our community. We won’t settle for anything less.
In January, the provincial NDP government announced a 40 unit social housing project in Maple Ridge, to be run by the Salvation Army. To the residents of Anita Place, it was an insult, a clear rejection of their vision and demands. The fight goes on.