Renfrew-Collingwood Community News

News stories from the Renfrew-Collingwood community in East Vancouver

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Seniors and income tax filing in B.C.


Collingwood Neighbourhood House is once again offering its income tax service for low-income households.


Filing income tax is important for everyone in B.C. However, it can be challenging for some groups, including seniors.

Why is it important for seniors to file income tax?
Seniors generally have low income. According to the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, “a large share of single seniors has incomes very close to the poverty line: 44 per cent report an after-tax income between $15,000 and $25,000.”

By filing income tax, seniors are more likely to get the tax credits and benefits they are entitled to, such as Goods and Services Tax (GST) credits and the Guaranteed Income Supplement. If they do not file income tax, these tax credits and benefits will be cut.

To many seniors, these tax credits and benefits are survival income. Seniors rely on their limited income to pay for daily necessities, such as rent and food, to survive. These basic necessities are important for seniors to maintain their physical, mental and socio-emotional health.

What are the challenges for seniors to file income tax?
According to my own experience working with seniors, many do not know how to file income tax. The Canada Revenue Agency encourages income tax filing by computer. However, many seniors have limited or no knowledge of the computer.

While income tax can also be filed by paper, many find the form booklet complicated or cannot fill it in because of different reasons. For example, they have poor vision and can’t read the form, or their hands shake when writing so they can’t fill in the form. They may turn to family and friends for help, but many do not have this option for support. They may consider paying for an income tax filing service, but many find the service is too expensive.

What is the Community Volunteer Income Tax Program
Seniors and other people who have a modest income and a simple tax situation can consider filing their income tax with the help of the Community Volunteer Income Tax Program (CVITP), which is supported by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).

Through this program, community organizations across Canada help you fill out and file income tax for free. Some organizations provide the service year-round, but most only during the income tax filing seasons in March and April. The service is provided by volunteers who are either trained or have related education already, like accountants.

What are the challenges for seniors to access the CVITP?
It can still be challenging for some seniors to access the Community Volunteer Income Tax Program. First, in many community organizations, there are more clients than volunteers can serve. The resulting long waits can challenge some seniors, who may feel fatigued. It’s a good idea to provide tea, coffee, water and cookies to seniors while waiting.

Second, because many seniors can’t travel to the income tax clinics, community organizations often provide outreach services. However, not many organizations have the volunteer resources to provide such outreach.

Third, many immigrant seniors do not speak Canada’s official languages, English and French. Community organizations may have volunteers who can provide interpretation services but not many have the language resources. Community organizations and the Canada Revenue Agency should continue to consider ways to improve the program.

To find a Community Volunteer Income Tax Program, visit the CRA website

Karen Lok Yi Wong is a social worker in B.C. working with seniors. She was the program coordinator at 411 Seniors Centre Society and lead the centre’s Community Volunteer Income Tax Program in 2017. That year, the program served more than 1,700 clients.

Copyright (c) 2018 Renfrew-Collingwood Community News


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City plans housing for homeless residents at 4410 Kaslo


The paths around the current garden at 4410 Kaslo are heavily used by commuters as a thoroughfare to the 29th Avenue SkyTrain station and bus loop. Photos by Julie Cheng

Community garden near the 29th Avenue SkyTrain station slated to become Vancouver’s latest site for temporary modular housing


Dec. 13, 2017, local residents packed the First Hungarian Presbyterian Church in the first of two information sessions to find out more about the temporary modular housing that the City of Vancouver has planned for 4410 Kaslo Street.

Currently a community garden, 4410 Kaslo is located across from the 29th Avenue SkyTrain station and Slocan Park. One three-storey building with 50 units is being considered there as housing for people experiencing homelessness.

Kaslo is the city’s fourth site planned for such housing, following sites in the Marpole neighbourhood and on Franklin and Powell streets in the Downtown Eastside.

Together the four sites make up roughly 200 out of the 600 new units of temporary modular housing that the city aims to place across Vancouver. The city is working on six to seven more sites, according to Abi Bond, director of affordable housing community services.


Jennifer Gray-Grant of the Collingwood Neighbourhood House and Chris Taulu of Collingwood Community Policing Centre were among the many community members who attended the 4410 Kaslo information sessions.

Vancouver’s first temporary modular housing at 220 Terminal Avenue opened in February 2017 and has been a “big success,” says Luke Harrison, CEO of the Vancouver Affordable Housing Agency. “It’s operating beautifully. There’s been no increase in crime. The residents have been good neighbours.”

Staff from Atira Women’s Resources Society will manage the Kaslo site and will connect its residents to support services such as health services.

Development permit timeline

December 13 and 14, 2017: Community information session to present project and gather feedback.

December 22, 2017: Public can provide input until December 22 via email ( or at the community information sessions.

January 2018: Vancouver Affordable Housing Agency applies for a development permit to build temporary modular housing at 4410 Kaslo Street.

January to February 2018: City and community partners hold another community information session to present the project and listen to feedback. Public has the opportunity to provide input for one week after the community information session via email ( or at the community information session.

February 2018: The city’s director of planning determines whether a development permit will be issued.

Spring 2018: Once approved, it takes about three months for construction to be completed.

For more information visit

Current City of Vancouver temporary modular housing projects

Franklin Street – 39 units on a 18,913 square-foot lot

Powell Street – 39 units on a 21,203 square-foot lot

Marpole – 2 buildings of 39 units; total 78 units on a 65,198 square-foot lot

Kaslo Street – 50 units on a 20,139 square-foot lot

The building sizes for Franklin, Powell and Marpole are about 15,000 square feet for each 39-unit structure, according to Luke Harrison of the Vancouver Affordable Housing Agency. The building planned for Kaslo would be closer to 25,000 square feet.

Did you know?
The 2017 Homeless Count in Metro Vancouver reports more than 2,100 people living in homeless shelters or on the street within Vancouver.

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Windermere Law 12 students learn about housing and homelessness crisis at Housing Justice Conference

Windermere Secondary Law 12 classes attended their first Housing Conference. Photo by Maya Cindrich

Windermere Secondary’s Housing Justice Conference 2017


On Nov. 20, the Windermere Secondary Law 12 classes attended their very first school-organized Housing Conference of 2017.

Key speakers, such as anti-poverty and social justice activist Jean Swanson, gave detailed presentations about Vancouver’s ever-rising homelessness epidemic and what the students as youth, could do to put an end to homeless.

The conference began with a presentation by Jean Swanson, who covered a wide array of topics that tie into Vancouver’s massively increasing homelessness population, such as the $41,000 tax decrease on the wealthy since the 1970s, and the decrease in social housing and inadequate funding from the provincial and federal governments.

Jean also pressed the importance of decisions that will affect our future with housing for the better, saying, “If we can get a man to the moon, why can’t we end homelessness?” Jeans stated simple facts that would inevitably end homeless such as bringing back higher taxes on the wealthy, providing more social housing opportunities and, of course, gaining rent control.

The second part to the conference consisted of students picking their own presentations to attend, according to their own interests. Going with the housing theme, I was the most interested in the presentation about Tiny Homes and Co-op Housing, given by Samantha Gambling and Fiona Jackson.

With the help of these two women, our group of students learned about all the possible aids to not just lower class homelessness as we see it, but our suffering middle class as well. Samantha gave a detailed presentation of her life as a woman owning and living in an affordable, sustainable and ecofriendly tiny home on wheels, and the challenges and the rewards.

I got to learn about zoning –which is a term that basically means what can be built on a piece of land or lot – that I hadn’t known about before. I also got to learn about the eco-friendly alternatives that come with living in a tiny home, for example, “humanure.” Samantha showed us a photograph of her toilet that had been altered to spit up solid and liquid waste, where it could then be sterilized in a bin outside for farming purposes. For me, that piece of information was interesting but wasn’t the highlight of our time together.

Fiona Jackson, however, gave a presentation on co-op housing and the benefits that come with being a part of a non-profit organization. With her, we got a more thorough look into co-ops. We learned about the democratic and business approach to co-op housing, where everyone “aims to break even.” She spoke about the different co-ops in Vancouver, and the ones being built as I’m sitting here typing this. For a short moment she even indulged into the history of co-ops, letting us know that the very first recorded existence of one was in Rochdale England, 1849.

All this brings up the pressing question: is housing a commodity or a human right? Personally, I can give a definitive answer to this question. It would simply be facts against beliefs. I believe it should be seen as a basic human necessity. No one in this world should sleep without a roof over their head, or not have a place to come home to.

Nevertheless, my eyes are still open to the fact that as of now housing is in fact a commodity. Until a real change occurs, whether that be in the form of higher taxes on the wealthy or gaining rent control, housing will continue to be a game of status. A show of sorts. A gamble for the poor, but a game for the wealthy.

Maya Cindrich is a Grade 12 student attending Windermere Secondary. She aims to better her knowledge of our justice system and one day become someone that makes a change, however big or small.

Homelessness addressed at Windermere Housing Justice Conference


At the Windermere Housing Justice Conference held on Nov. 20, guest speaker and activist Jean Swanson proposed that the government introduce a mansion tax. Photo by Veronica Kong


The Vancouver Housing crisis has affected many individuals who are currently homeless in Vancouver. So how can we work towards ending homelessness?

At the Windermere Housing Justice Conference held on Nov. 20, Guest speaker and activist Jean Swanson proposed that the government introduce a mansion tax. With this progressive property tax, we could end homelessness in a year. The mansion tax would bring in an extra $174 million annually, which could be used to build 2,138 modular homes for each counted homeless person in Vancouver. The cost of building the modular homes would only cost $160 million, which will take less than one year of revenue from the mansion tax.

There are other ways that we can deal with the housing crisis. Co-op housing and tiny houses can also contribute to ending homelessness.

In co-op housing, the members own the co-op, but the co-op owns the housing. Therefore, rent and other housing factors are voted on between the members. This means that the members work together to keep their housing well-managed and affordable.

Another alternative housing option are tiny houses. These houses are fully functional, customizable and has the capacity to be moved to other locations. The tiny houses are designed and built on the principles of affordability, community and sustainability. The downside to tiny houses is that they are currently not legal in Vancouver.

Homelessness affects many individuals in health and other factors. We should not treat housing as a game for the rich when it causes others to suffer. Housing is a human right and should not be taken away from us.

Veronica Kong is a Law 12 student at Windermere Secondary. She is currently trying to raise awareness on  such issues as homelessness and housing justice.

Windermere Secondary hosts housing conference


“If we can put people on the moon, why can’t we end homelessness.”

This was an amazing quote by keynote speaker and Order of Canada recipient Jean Swanson at Windermere’s Housing Conference on Nov. 20, 2017.

During the brief hour we heard her speak, she discussed the present and future of housing in Vancouver. Did you know in the 1970s over 760 social housing units were built every year, but now the number has decreased to only 11?

Back then welfare was more than enough to be able to survive. Now, welfare only supplies $710 per month, which is not enough to even rent a one-room apartment. One of the main reasons for this was because taxes on the richest one percent have decreased by $41,000 since the 1970s.

To combat this situation, Swanson has lobbied for a mansion tax. This tax would increase property taxes of houses ranging from $5 to 10 million by one percent and houses over $10 million by two percent. This would end homelessness within one year.

The next presenter, 23-year-old co-founder of City Hive Tessica Troung, showed that Vancouver was no longer affordable. In order to save enough money for a 20 percent down payment of a house in 1976, it would take five years. Compared to today, it would take over 25 years. Studies show millennials earn $8,000 less than their parents even though they have more education. Vancouver housing is a real problem that we need to solve.

Vincent Wu is active in the community. He was one of the marketing and promotion managers for Youth Celebrate Canada Day 2017.

Housing: Why you should care and how you can fix it


Imagine being evicted out of your home and forced to move. Your new neighbourhood doesn’t have any grocery stores, Skytrain stations or community centres nearby, but it’s the best you can afford. Now let that happen to you again and again, until you’re dwindled down to nothing, leaving you homeless.

The situation I just described is that of gentrification. It is a term used to describe affluent people moving in historically less wealthy neighbourhoods. Gentrification is closely associated to capitalism, which is the economic and political system for the private ownership of goods and services with the objective to accumulate more wealth. Capitalism and gentrification are two prime issues that leave many in the Lower Mainland homeless.

Why does gentrification happen and how do landlords profit from it? By evicting your tenants, you can legally raise the price of rent however high you want. How many times can you be evicted, and rent be increased until there is nowhere you can stay?

Capitalism can be found in Vancouver’s Chinatown. To cater to the wealthier residents, more and more coffee shops are opening up. However, the majority of locals, especially long-time residents, in Chinatown are less interested in coffee shops and prefer traditional stores. This hurts the culture of Chinatown and the community that the locals have built.

(For more information visit

5 responses to Vancouver’s housing crisis


  • Higher taxes for real estate speculators
  • Limit foreign ownership

Using Public Powers and Assets

  • Community land trust
  • Transit-oriented development
  • Inclusionary zoning

Yes in My Backyard

  • Support shelters being built in your neighbourhood

Support Renters

  • Encourage new rental investments
  • Protect renters’ rights
  • Stop home ownership bias

Vote for Housing

  • Pay attention to the news show support for an affordable housing market.

Become aware of the issues in the housing market and how we can respond to it. We can bring Vancouver’s housing crisis to an end.

Housing rally: More action needed to address housing crisis

Housing rally

The November 2017 housing rally was hosted by the Vancouver Tenants Union, Chinatown Action Group and Carnegie Community Action Program. Photo by Jordan Gammon-Fischer


The housing rally on Nov. 25, 2017, was a great opportunity to take action in regards to the housing crisis.

When I arrived, a speaker was talking about the purpose of National Housing Day. It is a day on the calendar, but it is not a holiday. Nobody says “Happy National Housing Day,” for it is not a day to celebrate. It is a serious day for social justice and action regarding housing.

The speaker talked about how, last year, many people ended up on the streets around Hastings. Many tents were put up, which lead to the police arresting 700 people. Homelessness is not a crime, and jailing people that are already in a difficult living situation is cruel.

After the speakers, it was time to grab a poster and begin the rally. Leading the rally were people wearing ponchos that spell out “10,000 In Social Housing Every Year For BC.” Many posters were in Chinese as the situation with Chinatown was a big issue discussed that day.

During the march, we chanted, “Get up, Get down, There’s a housing movement in this town,” “The people united will never be defeated,” “What’s our housing strategy? 10,000 homes in BC,” “What do we want? Housing! When do we want it? Now! (we also said the same phrase in Chinese),” and “We are ready to fight, housing is a human right.”

There was a lot of passion and anger in the people’s voices. As we marched, we passed by many homeless people and tents – that just adds volume to what we’re advocating for.

We heard more speakers at the end of the march. First up was Jean Swanson and it was very nice to hear her talk again. She is very passionate about housing, she has dissected the recently released national housing strategy. The context of the document is very disappointing, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is not taking appropriate actions towards the cause.

Swanson explained that this “housing strategy” is nothing but a re-election strategy for the Liberal party. What I found most upsetting was their definition of affordable. The plan defines affordable as “30% of units having rents at or less than 80% of median market rents, for a minimum of 20 years.”

One example that Swanson gave was if the median rent is $2,000 per month, 80% of it would be $1,600. Thus, you would need to make $65,000 a year to afford rent. How is that remotely affordable when the average salary in Vancouver is only $56,000?

Afterwards, we had an activist part of the Chinatown movement come speak. I didn’t get to go to the Chinatown workshop, so it was nice getting to learn about it during the rally. The speaker told us about an empty lot and described it as the heart of Chinatown. The lot was the battleground where development plans  have been defeated by a coalition of the city’s most marginalized people – not just once, but five times. The speaker said that they have won the battle, but they have not officially won until the empty lot can become a home for the most marginalized and hard working people of society.

The final presentation was directed against Justin Trudeau. They prepared a dummy with a printed picture of Trudeau’s face attached to it. The speaker displayed a giant poster and began educating Trudeau. She took him back to school about the definition of affordability and the basics of problem solving. The audience had a nice laugh and it was an entertaining way to end the event.

Janice Zeng is a Grade12 student at Windermere Secoundary. She attended the Housing Rally to have her voice heard and hear from fascinating activists.

“Nobody says ‘Happy National Housing Day,’ for it is not a day to celebrate. It is a serious day for social justice and action regarding housing.”

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Vancouver-based EDM group Global Party Starters releases controversial single

Bout Us by Global Party Starters

Bout Us by Global Party Starters

The latest single from the Global Party Starters, titled Bout Us, features radio charting artists Elise Estrada and J.Young. The song recently won a Telus STORYHIVE grant which helped fund the music video that is now on YouTube.

Bout Us is a real-life Romeo and Juliet story that highlights cultural stigmas in Canada. The song is written about the true story of desiFEST founder and GPS co-founder, SatsB, and his wife Michelle.

SatsB, a South Indian Hindu, fell in love with Michelle, an East African Muslim. Their struggle to bring their families and cultures together ultimately led to the creation of desiFEST, a platform that uses music to build bridges between cultures. The video, featuring Kamantha Naidoo in the lead role, deals with this taboo in South Asian culture of dating and marrying outside of your culture and religion.

GPS started as an idea two years ago to take South Asian artists out of their niche markets and expose them to a wider musical audience. The group is comprised of three members from Canada’s east and west coasts: from Toronto, SatsB; Juno nominee and Western Canadian Music Award winner, DJ A-SLAM who grew up and still lives in the Collingwood area of Vancouver; and DJ REKing, a fresh face on the Vancouver music scene.

The GPS sound is EDM-focused (electronic dance music) with a mix of hip-hop and R&B vocals and South Asian influences. For all of their releases, remember to subscribe to their YouTube channel (

Bout Us – Global Party Starters with Elise Estrada & J.Young

Watch on YouTube:

Find more info on STORYHIVE:

Find Global Party Starters at and on Mixcloud, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Hussein “DJ A-SLAM” Alidina attended Carleton Elementary and Windermere Secondary and worked as a youth worker at Collingwood Neighbourhood House.

Copyright (c) 2017 Renfrew-Collingwood Community News

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The Veterans Memorial Mural of Grandview-Collingwood Legion, Branch #179

Veterans Memorial Mural of Grandview-Collingwood Legion, Branch #179

Part of the photo-realistic 6th Street Mural completed by artists Nick Gregson, David Mercer, John De Matos and Jesom. Photos by Paul Reid


Three years since it was first rendered, the Veterans Memorial Mural that was painted onto the walls of Branch #179 is looking as fresh as ever.

In 2014, the Royal Canadian Legion Branch #179 commissioned local mural artist Nick Gregson to give the walls of the branch a facelift. Nick worked with the branch to come up with a design. Four months after the first strokes were made, the transformation and resulting mural were nothing short of miraculous.

Nick and his volunteer crew (John De Matos, David Mercer, Jesom) worked throughout the summer and into the fall months, right up until Remembrance Day.

“This was a huge project. I wish we had more time to put in more detail,” says volunteer painter, David Mercer when interviewed on that day of its completion in 2014. “It’s something we worked hard at doing – just wish we had another month. But we’re quite proud of it and have been getting positive remarks.”

All who see the Veterans Memorial Mural will agree that the amount of detail on this mural is incredible. Using photos provided by Branch #179, the painters were able to capture near photo-realistic renditions of the faces of the Branch #179 members, sports teams and veterans of today and of the past.

“I have seen a lot of branch murals,” says Gerry Vowles, “and I think this must be one of the best, if not the best.” A member of  the branch since 1980 and former BC/Yukon Command President, Mr. Vowles is a retired Canadian Forces veteran who has served in many executive capacities throughout his RCL career at Branch, Zone and Provincial Command levels.

Nick Gregson at work on the Veterans Memorial Mural.

Nick Gregson at work on the Veterans Memorial Mural.

Nickolas Gregson’s artistic practice is rooted in graffiti and community-centered public art. Raised in East Vancouver, Gregson drew inspiration from local street art and the sanctioned graffiti spaces of Leeside Tunnel Skateboard Park.

In the same year that he created the Veterans Memorial Mural, Gregson launched the Metro Vancouver Art and Mural Society, a non-profit organization dedicated to building stronger communities through public art. Since that time, Gregson’s art and mural society has been transforming Vancouver’s blank walls into vibrant murals.

Being that it is such an exceptional work of art, the branch hopes to keep it up for years to come. “It’s been laminated,” explained Dave, when being interviewed about the mural back in 2014, “so if anyone tags it with graffiti, it will just wash off and be as good as new.” Thanks to the vigilant maintenance by the branch, it has remained as such.

Copyright (c) 2017 Renfrew-Collingwood Community News

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9th annual Climate Change Conference by Windermere Leadership students

Calling all students: What will be your legacy?


Calling out youth in the Lower Mainland! It’s that time of the year again, Windermere Leadership’s ninth annual Climate Change Conference (C3) is happening on Friday, December 1, 2017! This year’s theme is What Will Be Your Legacy?  

We decided on this theme because we wanted to deliver the message that our time here on this beautiful Earth is fleeting. Decades from now when climate change has done its damage on this planet, will you be able to be satisfied with the actions you have took? What have you contributed towards our planet? It implies to take action and do something that will leave a positive impact for future generations. 

What is C3?

The idea came about not too long ago, from just a group of Leadership students who wanted to educate and spread awareness about climate change to primarily youth.  

Climate change is upon us more than ever in this day and age. Temperatures are rising, glaciers are melting and, in turn, sea levels are rising more than we’ve ever seen before.  

Yet youth are still turning a blind eye to this pressing crisis. This is why the Windermere Leaderships students present C3. In the past, we’ve had workshops revolving around fracking, LNG, food security, water and more.  

Now, each year the Grade 11 Leadership class is involved in continuing this vision. Our goals are for everyone to leave the conference with a heightened knowledge of climate change, and be able to walk out feeling inspired to take action and apply that knowledge in the real world. 

The entire day is student-led and organized by the Windermere Leadership 11 class. The day starts off with inspiring keynote speakers, then attendees break off into different morning workshops, followed by a lunch break, then an afternoon workshop.  

Workshops are determined by the attendees’ choice when they register. They range from more information-heavy sessions to hands-on activities to team bonding. This provides opportunities to network with other youth passionate about sustainability, like yourself! There is an option to buy lunch upon registering, and as always this is a zero-waste event so everyone must bring their own cutlery! 

Now that you have a better understanding about this phenomenal event, we encourage you to come join us! You can register online on our website, and get notified on any additional information such as our workshops and speakers for this year by following us on social media! Hope to see you there! 


Facebook: @c3vancity

Twitter: @c3vancity

Instagram: @c3vancity

Copyright (c) 2017 Renfrew-Collingwood Community News

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Windermere Law 12 students take action on homelessness


All proceeds from the Windermere Law 12 clothing drive go to the local Morning Star Program, which helps the homeless. Photo submitted

Clothing drive to support the Morning Star program


The homeless, housing and affordability crisis at an all-time high:

  • The most recent homeless count found that there are 828 more people who identify as homeless in Vancouver. This is an astounding 30% increase since 2014, which is the highest increase to date in Vancouver.
  • The number of homeless seniors (55 and over) went up by 185, which makes up 23% of the homeless population.
  • The crisis has particularly affected the Indigenous population. Metro Vancouver found that 34% of the homeless population identify as Indigenous, despite making up a mere 2.5% of the overall population.

The Morning Star Program, located at Collingwood Neighbourhood House, is dedicated to helping low-income families and individuals that have been affected by the housing and homelessness crisis in Vancouver. Staff provide recreational, educational, social and cultural programs for members of the community. They offer everything from day camps for children, support for Indigenous people, services for seniors, and food security programs such as shower and breakfast programs and rooftop gardening.

Morning Star gives so much to our community, and it’s time we give back, to aid them in supporting people affected by the housing and homeless crisis that has struck citizens all across Metro Vancouver.

Clothing drive

Law 12 students from Windermere Secondary School are hosting a clothing drive from October 10 to 20, 2017, to assist members of our community who are vulnerable to poverty. They are also hosting an educational campaign on housing, homelessness and the affordability crisis in Vancouver and will be studying long-term issues around affordability and renting in Vancouver.

The class is looking for new socks and underwear, new toiletries such as toothbrushes and soap, and lightly used clothing cleaned and ready for use. Donations can be dropped off at Room 211 at Windermere Secondary School, or directly to the Collingwood Neighborhood House. All proceeds will be going straight to the Morning Star Program, so come on down and support those who need your help.

Katie Frain is a student in the Law 12 class at Windermere Secondary.

Time is ticking on the homelessness problem


Homelessness isn’t “necessary.”

It’s a problem that policymakers can address and take action to improve the situation. Despite that, homelessness is still on the rise in Canada, specifically in Metro Vancouver where the number of homeless people rose up 30% this year, as compared to the most recent count in 2014.

More than 1,032 people are unsheltered, sleeping in doorways and alleys, or simply couchsurfing in Metro Vancouver. Furthermore, an additional 2,573 people are living in homeless shelters or transitional houses.

Too many Canadians are feeling the effects of the ever-growing housing crisis, and it’s time to take assertive action on homelessness!

Causes of homelessness

With nearly one in every 300 residents homeless in Vancouver, what is the main cause of homelessness?

The main cause of homelessness is the lack of affordable housing – due to rising housing prices and the average house in Metro Vancouver costing around $860,000, according to the Globe and Mail. This leaves most people scurrying to find a place to rent. Even while renting, an average person living with a roommate can start paying at $2,000+. That hefty price tag doesn’t even include taxes, student loans and personal needs, so imagine the price of living alone.

That leaves most Vancouverites needing to make $50,000+ per year, per person in order to even have enough money to pay rent. That kind of money is only achievable for a fraction of people, resulting in more homeless people in Vancouver than any other cities in British Columbia.

Alyssa Yan and Cindy Chen are students in the Law 12 class at Windermere Secondary.

Alarming homelessness numbers – No end in sight but there’s help around the corner


Homelessness is a rising issue in British Columbia’s Lower Mainland, and it’s no secret. There are so many keys that factor into the cause of people ending up on the streets. However, all but one is very obvious; housing affordability.

This year’s homeless count has skyrocketed due to lack of income and the outrageous housing costs of the real estate market. According to the same survey, the report counted 3,605 homeless people in total–a 30% increase since the last report in 2014. Yet, this number doesn’t include those who don’t seek help from public services, or are living in the crooks and nannies of places where volunteers aren’t able to find them.

According to Vancouver Sun (Sept. 15, 2017), “Vancouver rental cost for one-bedroom apartment in Vancouver is now $2,020.” It’s going to get even harder for many people to make ends meet. Lack of income and the sizzling real estate market, it couldn’t be more difficult.

About half of the people surveyed in the 2017 Metro Vancouver Homelessness Survey stated that they were residents of the city for over a decade before ending up on the streets. Yet, we should keep in mind that this method of counting the number of homeless people all across the Lower Mainland only accounts for those in the state of absolute homelessness.

Types of homelessness

Absolute homelessness is the “visible” homelessness that we see on a day-to-day basis, such as those on the streets.

Meanwhile, there are many more people who are considered in the stage of “hidden homelessness.” Hidden homelessness is where these people have the opportunity to stay in shelters or are “urban couch-surfers”—those who do not have a regular address and temporarily stay in another household.

iceberg homeless count

Visible homelessness is only the tip of the iceberg compared to homelessness as a whole. Source: 2017 Homeless Count in Metro Vancouver

Often times, visible homelessness is only the tip of the iceberg compared to homelessness as a whole (as shown in the iceberg image, provided by the 2017 Metro Vancouver Homelessness Survey report).

In addition to this, there is the idea of “relative homelessness”—when people are one pay cheque away from reaching the point of hidden homelessness.

With temperatures dropping, and Vancouver’s unpredictable weather, shelters are expected to be packed, while many others shiver in the freezing weather. Public services such as serving hot meals, food banks, and other programs are forecasted to be jam-packed with volunteers and guests for this winter season.

Are you looking for help?

The Collingwood Neighbourhood House is located in East Vancouver, and the Morning Star program for serving homeless folks occurs every Saturday morning from 7 to 10 am. Showers, a community breakfast, clothing exchange, and much more are offered to those who seek support.

Christal Do is a student at Windermere Secondary taking the Law 12 class.

Copyright (c) 2017 Renfrew-Collingwood Community News