Renfrew-Collingwood Community News

News stories from the Renfrew-Collingwood community in East Vancouver


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City plans housing for homeless residents at 4410 Kaslo

TMH-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

BY JULIE CHENG

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.

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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 (housing@vancouver.ca) 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 (housing@vancouver.ca) 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 Vancouver.ca/temporarymodularhousing.

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 take action on homelessness

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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

BY KATIE FRAIN

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

BY ALYSSA YAN AND CINDY CHEN

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

BY CHRISTAL DO

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