Mayor Kennedy Stewart has proposed a motion that, if passed, would allocate up to $30 million towards housing for Vancouver residents experiencing homelessness.
The motion will be considered during a special council meeting that’s scheduled for Thursday. Stewart says that the money, which will be allocated as “emergency COVID-19 relief funding,” will go towards purchasing or leasing housing and wrap-around services.
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“The impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic have magnified and disproportionately impacted vulnerable people experiencing homelessness or at risk of homelessness,” reads the mayor’s recommendation motion to City Council.
“Supportive social services and emergency shelters that serve these populations have had to reduce capacity due to COVID-19.”
A statement from the mayor’s office explains that the recommendation is built off “an extensive staff report.”
The report suggests that “the only viable options” to address the needs of neighbours and communities are leasing and purchasing housing units in vacant apartment buildings, commercial hotels, SROs, and other buildings.
These housing options “scored the highest” on the staff report in terms of cost, expediency, uptake, space attributes, and the possibility of partnerships with senior levels of government.
“We have hundreds of neighbours on the street or in parks,” says Stewart. “They need housing and wrap around services and our communities need support. The choice before Council is to choose to take action, or more delays.”
If the motion is passed, staff will be directed to lease or purchase housing units found in vacant apartment buildings, Commercial hotels or other buildings, and vacant SROs.
Mayor Stewart would also continue to pursue funding from senior levels of government to provide additional housing.