Provincial Liberal Minister Rich Coleman may be refusing to talk about his social housing plans with anyone other than his rental and construction industry buddies. But Vision Vancouver Councillor Heather Deal is making her voice heard loud and clear, introducing a motion opposing the provincial government's apparent plan to shift focus from funding social housing to providing rent supplements. In an interview with Public Eye, Councillor Deal explained, "We're very, very concerned about all this talk of withdrawing support for social housing and subsidizied housing and instead start using subsidized rents."
"So we want to reaffirm the city's position that it believes in supporting the homeless action plan that came forward last year which calls for a blend of different types of housing - a menu if you will - including subsidized housing and some rent support but certainly not restricted to that. Rent support works when you have vacancy rates. And we have, traditionally in Vancouver, extremely low vacancy rates. And vacancies tend to be in extremely expensive buildings or very minimal buildings - not the kind of place you want to raise a family."
Councillor Deal went onto add, "My concern is that Mayor (Sam) Sullivan seems to be open to this idea. And it's just not on, as far as we're concerned. It doesn't work in Vancouver. There are certain specific instances where it has worked. But there's no replacement for subsidized housing." Councillor Deal's motion, which was brought to Public Eye's attention by our comrade-in-ink Irwin Loy, is scheduled to be debated by Vancouver's city council this coming Tuesday. The following is a complete copy of the motion.
MOTION ON NOTICE
At the Regular Council meeting on January 31, 2006, the following motion was submitted by Councillor Deal. Mayor Sullivan called Notice under Section 5.4(c) of the Procedure By-law. The motion will be considered at the Regular Council meetin immediately following the Standing Committee on City Services and Budgets meeting of February 2, 2006.
2. Provincial Housing Program (File 11-2200-01)
MOVER: Councillor Deal
WHEREAS homelessness has doubled in Vancouver since 2002 due to changes in provincial income assistance and housing policy; and
WHEREAS the homelessness strategy unanimously adopted by the last council relied on funding from senior levels of government to build affordable and lowincome housing as a way to reduce homelessness over time; and
WHEREAS recent news reports suggest the provincial government is considering rent subsidies to renters instead of revitalizing the housing program, a move which tenants' groups say will not meet the growing need;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that this council support the City of Vancouver's Homelessness Action Plan, and call on the provincial government to restore a full subsidized housing program as the lead element in the fight against
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the City of Vancouver seek endorsement of this motion by the GVRD and the UBCM.