Grand March for Housing, Vancouver, April 4, 2009

Large Mobilization Against Homelessness, For Social Housing

On Saturday April 4, 2009, as many as 2,000 people participated in the 'Grand March for Housing' in downtown Vancouver.

The march began at three separate locations which converged at the Vancouver Art Gallery for an afternoon of speeches and performances. The largest section of the march gathered in the Downtown Eastside and was led by Native Elders and drummers.

Anti-Olympic messages were widespread, with picket signs, banners and chants of '2010 Homes Not 2010 Games' etc. Many politicians (the real 'outside agitators') sought to use the march as a platform to recruit voters for the May provincial elections. The march itself was organized by the Citywide Housing Coalition, including a large number of unions & reformist community groups.

Since Vancouver won the bid to host the 2010 Winter Games, there has been an over 370% increase in homelessness, the result of rampant gentrification and efforts by hotel owners to renovate low-income hotels into Olympic-related tourist accommodations. Over 30% of the homeless in downtown Vancouver's Eastside are Native; over 40% of both homeless women and youth are Native. The numbers of homeless are also growing in smaller cities and towns throughout the province.

Homelessness has become a major political issue in Vancouver due to the increase in numbers and the efforts of many community organizations to combat it. The last city election in the fall of 2008 was largely determined by the failure of the then-ruling Non-Partisan Association's failure to develop solutions beyond its' passing of new by-laws and policies aimed at criminalizing the homeless and poor (i.e., the Safe Streets Act and Project Civil City).

Despite the large mobilization against homelessness and for social housing, there has been only brief corporate media coverage of the event.

There is a small No2010 photo gallery here:

There is a rough YouTube video here:

Report by No2010