Homeless advocates in Vancouver call for shelter bill of rights 0
Homeless advocates in Vancouver call for shelter bill of rights
Homeless advocates marched through the cold, rainy streets of the Downtown Eastside on Tuesday demanding a bill of rights to better protect shelter occupants in a system they describe as abusive towards residents and expensive for taxpayers.
Roland Clarke, a member of the committee on homeless shelters for the Downtown Eastside Neighbourhood Council, was among those who grabbed a mike after the march to share stories about being tossed out of a shelter without provocation.
Among the 10 proposals he developed with the committee are the right to refuse discharge from a shelter and the right to receive help from an independent advocate.
“This is a bigger problem than just the safety and the health of homeless people. This is a problem because the B.C. taxpayer is paying for a system that is broken and expensive,” he told the crowd before saying it can cost as much as $100 a day to fund a single shelter space.
He said it makes more economic sense to cap shelter funding at $50 and divert other funds into social housing.
Vancouver Coun. Kerry Jang said Clarke was “absolutely correct” in his assertion, adding that’s why the city is working to complete 14 social housing complexes.
“(Shelters) are there simply to get people off the street. It’s the first step to recovery.”
Jang said the homeless population would benefit greatly from Tuesday’s announcement that the provincial government is providing $1.6 million to fund 160 seasonal shelter spaces at four Vancouver homeless shelters.
The additional beds — 40 more than last year — will be available November 2012 to May 2013.