Vancouver passes $30M emergency housing spending for homeless residents

Oct 9 2020, 8:34 am

Vancouver City Council has passed a $30 million COVID-19 housing action plan to support unsheltered residents in all areas of the city.

The motion, which was brought forward by Mayor Kennedy Stewart, passed unanimously on Thursday evening.

“COVID-19 has reduced shelter capacity, forced people from SROs, eliminated incomes, and as a result pushed so many of our neighbours onto the street,” wrote Stewart in a release.

“The fastest way to help and get people back into safe housing with the wrap-around services to stabilize people’s lives and communities is through securing spaces in hotels, vacant buildings, and SROs. This is the path that Council chose and I am grateful.”

City staff will also be directed to immediately secure emergency shelter locations for residents living in the Strathcona Park encampment.

A previous 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 is 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.

Stewart says he looks forward to “seeing our staff quickly implement our direction,” and he is “confident” the plan will help Vancouver’s vulnerable residents find a way off the streets “quickly and safely.”

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