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For Immediate Release
April 14, 2013
About 75 Downtown Eastside residents and supporters gathered at the former police station at Main and Cordova today to claim the empty building for social housing and a community space for Aboriginal women and social justice groups. “No corps here. 100% social housing,” said one sign. “People not profit,” said another.
Every resident based group in the Downtown Eastside supports this demand, including the Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users, Downtown Eastside Neighbourhood Council, Carnegie Community Centre Association, Downtown Eastside Power of Women Group, Aboriginal Front Door, Gallery Gachet and Western Aboriginal Harm Reduction.
The action was one of a series by Formerly Homeless Dave and his supporters. Dave is on day 24 of a Hunger Strike. His demands include using the city owned former police station for social housing, having the city buy the site at 138 E. Hastings for social housing, and declaring the Downtown Eastside a Social Justice Zone where low income people won’t be pushed out.
Wendy Pedersen, an independent organizer and DTES resident told the group that 5000 SRO residents and over 600 shelter resident in the DTES are in dire need of housing. But instead of using the empty cop shop for what the neighbourhood desperately needs, the city “wants to put in a high tech venture capital hub that will bring more condos, fancy restaurants and displacement.”
Pedersen said we need “drastic action now” because “we’ve been to every city council meeting in the last 10 years and we lose every time.”
Ten year old Agnes, started painting the wall with a three foot high daisy, part of a DTES tradition begun in 1995 when now MLA Jenny Kwan painted a daisy on Woodward’s as part of a fight to get it turned into social housing.
But the 125 units of singles social housing at Woodward came with 536 condos which pushed up land values and prices nearby, and over 400 SROs raised rents, within a block of Woodward’s, beyond what people on welfare and pensions can afford.
“We won’t be tricked again,” said Dave Hamm of the Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users.
Homeless Dave said that the Hunger Strike is “not fun.” But it’s necessary because the Mayor is planning to give this building to corporations and then subsidize them instead of building social housing in the community.”
“This gentrification and displacement of human lives is not right,” Elaine Durocher, a DTES resident, told the group. “Housing is a right. I was homeless once and I know what it feels like.”
VANDU president Dave Hamm said that VANDU “is in total support of Homeless Dave’s Hunger Strike and housing.”
DJ Joe of the DNC board said she was also in support of the Hunger Strike.
People drew pictures of flowers, houses, and people on the wall of the old police station. Their slogans read: “100% social housing today.” “We are Human!” “Human capital, not venture capital.” “Homes here now.” “Condos create homelessness.”
Formerly Homeless Dave plans to continue the Hunger Strike until action is taken on his demands.
Contact: Tami Starlight 604.790.9943; Wendy Pedersen 604. 839.0379