When I first saw this photograph, I thought it was a painting. The theme of the photograph, the colors, the composition, the feeling and mood are so powerful. It is a photograph of a homeless woman in Vancouver. Our city has been named the number one city in the world in which to live, many times, and indeed it is beautiful. But we have a serious problem with homelessness here. A couple of years ago a young couple gave birth to a baby in St. Paul’s Hospital. They were homeless, and when they were discharged from the hospital, they were released back onto the streets with their newborn. How could something like that happen? Well, it did.
"The solution to homelessness will always be a home. A home is a safe place to sleep, a permanent address that helps secure a job, and a place to rebuild and rejoin our community. But the crisis can’t be solved just by building homes. We must also ensure that there is adequate treatment for addiction and mental health, access to temporary shelter, and action to eliminate poor rental conditions."
… Gregor Robertson, Vision Vancouver
Recently, folks living in rental properties in the West End have been evicted so the property owners can make basic cosmetic repairs and then hike the rents up to unaffordable amounts. Anyone who can't afford to pay the higher rents, or who can't find another place to rent, ends up living on the streets. There is something just so wrong in that. The West End is already an outrageously expensive area of the city, and the Provincial and Municipal governments have taken away all renters' rights.
When my daughter was only four years old, her father was killed in a plane crash. My mother-in-law, bless her heart, stole our insurance money that would have purchased a home for my daughter and me. In fact, we could have purchased a house for cash, in Kerrisdale, but that is a story for another day... As a consequence, we were at the mercy of landlords for many years. So affordable housing for everyone is something I feel very strongly about.
There but for the Grace of God...
In an in camera (secret) meeting recently, Vancouver City Council agreed to lend up to $100 million to bail out the financially troubled development company building the athletes village for the 2010 Winter Olympic Games. When the Olympic Games are over, these condominiums will sell for upwards of $3.5 million dollars per unit, and the developers will pocket a ton of money.
Big mistake. The people of Vancouver were disgusted, and yesterday in our Municipal election they voted in Vision Vancouver and Gregor Robertson as their Mayor. He won by a landslide.
I'm extremely happy we have elected a Mayor who has made affordable housing the first issue on his platform. No more bailing out fat cat developers, in behind-closed-door meetings.