VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart wants to set aside $30 million in emergency COVID-19 funding to provide housing for the city’s homeless.
Stewart plans to make a recommendation at a special council meeting Thursday to allocate the funding to buy or lease more housing and provide “wraparound services” to get more vulnerable people sheltered during the pandemic.
Stewart says the only viable option for that, as recommended by staff, is through the use or purchase of vacant apartment buildings, commercial hotels, SROs, and other buildings.
“As part of our emergency response to COVID-19, we must have the courage and conviction to act quickly and help our most vulnerable neighbours get off the street with safe housing and the wraparound services in place to stabilize their lives,” he says in a release.
Stewart’s motion acknowledges people living in many neighbourhoods in the city are still experiencing higher than usual levels of street homelessness and are demanding solutions.
The mayor suggests he will push senior governments for funding to support the plan.
“To date, I have worked with the provincial and federal governments to secure millions in housing investments for Vancouver, but COVID-19 has presented an unprecedented challenge and we must rise to the occasion,” Stewart says.
“We have hundreds of neighbours on the street or in parks. They need housing and wraparound services and our communities need support. The choice before council is to choose to take action, or more delays.”
Vancouver residents have appealed to governments to address a homeless camp in Vancouver’s Strathcona neighbourhood. Many neighbourhood residents have expressed their frustration with crime, health, and safety issues that have been associated with the tent city.
–with files from Mike Loyd and Hana Mae Nassar.