By Kerry Gibson, Housing and Safety Convenor
Developers have broken ground in Victoria for a 97-unit affordable housing complex that will replace three existing aging buildings. The new complex will become two four-story buildings in James Bay.
CEO of BC Housing Shayne Ramsay resigned amidst a litany of controversies and concerns. It remains to be seen if Atira will retain funding from BC Housing with the absence of the previous conflict of interest, or if that funding will require new oversight with new governance. On July 8th, there was a dramatic overhaul and dismissal of the former board of directors, which may have led to Ramsay’s resignation along with the results of the Ernst and Young report, which comprehensively condemned the effectiveness of the organization.
University students are finding each year more and more difficult to find safe, affordable, and available housing in Vancouver. Price-gauging is also a concern. This logistical obstacle is having long term consequences for students, who are forced to defer or drop out altogether.
The BC Rent Bank has released a survey that has determined a 94% success rate to provide stability through financial supports for low-income renters. The main reasons people utilized this service were to maintain custody of their children, engage in recovery from addictions, and resume employment. This initiative is supported by VanCity and the federal government.
A review was recently released regarding the 2021 heat dome determining that over 600 lives were lost. Minister Farnsworth has announced that preparations are being made for 2022 climate conditions, and that the province’s emergency alert system would be in readiness in June 2022 to notify the public of extreme conditions. The federal government has also announced an allocation of over $200 million to be designated to disaster recovery and climate resilience.
The Minister of Mental Health announced a harm prevention strategy to decriminalize the possession of less than 2.5 grams of formerly illicit substances. The opioid epidemic has resulted in significant loss of life in BC, and Minister Carolyn Bennett hopes this measure will mitigate the stigma associated with drug use encouraging users to seek support resources that prevent loss of life.
The escalation of both targeted and opportunistic violent crime continues to be a major concern to the community, both in daylight and nocturnal hours. It is important to be cognizant of one’s surroundings, walk in pairs whenever possible, do not wear ear buds that restrict spatial awareness, and consider carrying a personal alarm. Do not be afraid to call 911 regarding criminal acts, even if the call is after the fact.
Homeless people are especially vulnerable, and there is speculation that a recent podcast by Joe Rogan has contributed to the violence against the homeless, as he was quoted as saying in response to a question regarding the homelessness issue, “…just kill them”.
The South Asian community is also concerned about racial profiling. A list of 11 wanted men with photographs was released by the police, and people may use the wanted poster as the vitriol necessary for hate crimes on the community.