Murray Rankin, Acting Attorney General and Minister Responsible for Housing, issued the following statement regarding the Hastings Street camp in Vancouver:
“Housing is a human right and the deeply concerning scenes on Hastings Street show how much we still need to work to make this a reality for all members of our communities.
“Since 2017, our government has massively expanded supportive housing, helping to house more than 1,400 people in Vancouver who now have homes and the supports they need to make a fresh start.
“They are our neighbours, our friends and our family members. Although the province is not involved in the fire chief’s order or the enforcement of local bylaws on Hastings Street, we are leveraging all of BC Housing’s resources to do what we can to secure housing for people . I am in direct contact with Mayor Kennedy Stewart to ensure that we work as closely as possible with the city to find housing solutions for those currently living on Hastings Street.
“BC Housing has never let up and is continually striving to secure additional homes and places in Vancouver. Our government has already converted many available spaces into housing for people, and we have 700 new homes with longer-term support services on the way in Vancouver. But right now, we’re at an in-between time where access to new spaces is limited. When we learned of the impending order from the fire chief, we were clear with the city and the fire departments that, despite our continued efforts to obtain additional housing, we did not have access to a large number of spaces to meet the order at short notice.
“Outreach Teams are providing the limited spaces we have, and BC Housing has further accelerated its efforts to secure new housing and shelter for people on Hastings Street. We are looking for new sites to rent or buy and are accelerating renovations of One Bedroom Occupancy Units (ORS) as they become vacant, so that we can reopen them as soon as possible, bearing in mind that some people live outside because their current SRO housing is difficult, especially in the summer. There are currently dozens of SRO units being evaluated for remediation work, and several locations are being considered for additional shelter activation. Our goal is to have a limited number of sanitized SRO spaces available next week, with more openings in September and the fall.
“As the city identifies new sites for interim housing and develops an enforcement plan, we are ready to act as quickly as possible to secure housing for our neighbors in Hastings.
“I recognize the deep uncertainty and upheaval faced by those affected by the fire order, and we will provide updates on this work as we have news to share.
“At the same time, we continue to open new complex care homes across the province for people who need even more intensive mental health and addictions care, and we are launching new upstream supports to break the cycle. homelessness and prevent people from losing their homes in the first place.
“While the spotlight is on Hastings at the moment, we must not forget that people are experiencing homelessness in communities across the province. We are committed to continuing to roll out new homes and supports across British Columbia to provide the homes and care people desperately need.