VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — Vancouver’s plan to use the empty Jericho Beach hostel to temporarily house those who are homeless this winter is being met with resistance from some people in the community who say it is dangerous.
Flyers in the area claiming the be from the West Point Grey Residents Association were handed out asking people to write the city, saying they don’t want a shelter in their neighbourhood.
The two-page flyer calls for an “urgent request for letters,” directed at city council and the park board. Among the concerns under “points to consider,” the flyer added the temporary shelter would mean “Increased risk to children and vulnerable elderly who use the parks and community centre facilities,” and suggests there would be an increase in crime.
Got this gross flyer in the mail today. of course nimby citizens groups are trying to oppose basic human rights here, too. “our property values” is the leading point pic.twitter.com/qQtMSBuBJa
— anna! (@6rookes) November 16, 2020
But the WPGRA says the association did not authorize or approve the flyer.
“The flyer does not accurately reflect our views & we were not aware of it until it was posted online,” a tweet from WPGRA reads.
Jericho Beach hostel. There is a flyer circulating that WPGRA did not authorize or approve for content, but has used the WPGRA name and logo and some information from the website. The flyer does not accurately reflect our views & we were not aware of it until it was posted online
— WPG Residents Assoc. (@WPGResidents) November 18, 2020
Housing homeless brings down crime
As someone who supports the city’s vulnerable community, Nicole Mucci, with Union Gospel Mission, says claims the shelter will increase crime aren’t true.
She points to the positive impact modular housing has had, specifically in the Marpole neighbourhood.
“Evidence repeatedly shows that housing the homeless that are currently in our communities – because they are there already, right – it often reduces rather than increases the problems people are worried about like violence or open drug use or lack of sanitation,” she says.
Housing the homeless helps create safer communities, Mucci stresses
“We’ve seen it in many different situations year over year. In fact, when the modular housing opened up in Marpole in 2018, over the course of a year the police actually reported that there were 50 less crimes reported so there was an actual decrease in crime.”
The temporary modular housing in Marpole was also met with community resistance. Neighbourhood groups initially rallied against it in 2017, but their calls eventually subsided.
Mucci says as temperatures are dropping and COVID-19 transmissions are increasing, the need for everyone to be somewhere warm and safe is the greatest concern.
“We just really need to remember the humanity in everybody’s situation while we continue to face this pandemic and the opioid crisis, as well as the great risks to being outdoors, repeatedly exposed to the elements,” Mucci says.
“These are people who have hopes, who have fears, they have dreams, and they’re struggling. As a collective society, we really need to come together and lift one another up and provide those safe shelters.”
Vancouver city council voted in October to spend $30 million to buy and lease spaces that can serve as safe shelters for the homeless.