CONCERNS over DERA STAFF and BOARD ACTIVITIES
CONCERNS over FRAUDULENT ACTIVITIES at DERA and QUESTIONABLE BOARD ACTIVITIES
December 5, 2006
To: Lorne Mayencourt, MLA
Peter Ladner, City Councillor
Suzanne Anton, City Councillor
Hedy Fry, MP
Libby Davies, MP
Rich Coleman, Housing Minister, Government of BC
Re : Fraudulent and Criminal Activities by DERA STAFF and BOARD Members
This is to lay out that the Downtown Eastside Residents Association (DERA), and DERA Housing Society, along with the Anti Poverty Committee (APC) who comprise many of the DERA Housing staff are mis-using the Province of British Columbia BC Housing monies and City of Vancouver Chinese seniors grant which are allotted toward managing the Pendera at 133 West Pender Street, Tellier Tower on East Hastings Street and Solheim Place on Union Street. Moreover, DERA has engaged in fraudulent activities in providing housing accommodations to a number of Anti Poverty Committee members who also happen to be paid housing staff of DERA.
Aaron Muirhead, is an influential APC member who is the full-time daytime manager at the Pendera. Hence he is a paid employee of DERA Housing Society. BC Housing provides for the funding of DERA Housing staff. Mr. Muirhead also lives at the subsidized BC Housing buildiing, Solheim Place run by DERA and funded by BC Housing.
On Monday, October, 23, 2006, Tuesday, October 24, 2006, and Wednesday, October 25, 2006, Mr Muirhead abandoned his housing position at DERA to participate in an takeover of a deserted building called the North Star hotel. DERA also participated in this illegal property takeover through the participation of Mr. Kim Kerr with agreement from both the DERA President, Vice-President and other DERA Housing board members. Mr. Kerr is the paid Executive Director of DERA and DERA Housing. Mr. Kerr receives two salaries from both DERA and DERA Housing Society. These salaries are provided by BC Housing. For a number of weeks in November, there hasn't been a daytime manager in place at the Pendera. This is a breach of contractual obligations.
Further, we allege, Mr. Muirhead and Mr. Kerr abused and abandoned the tenants of Pendera by leaving them vulnerable and at risk. Not having replacement staff covering shifts for the aforementioned dates in case of tenant emergencies, this amounts to dereliction of duties. Further, its questionable whether those DERA staff facing criminal charges should be paid salaries from the public purse as is the case now. BC Housing employees should be free of criminal involvment since their paid positions are public trust positions.
A building emergency number for the Pendera building is held by Mr. Aaron Muirhead who self-locked himself into the North Star building. We have copies of a photograph of Mr. Muirhead locked in the deserted North Star building along with Mr. Kim Kerr. Moreover, we maintain that Mr. Muirhead and Mr. Kerr abused the emergency Pendera cell phone in order to communicate with press and police about their squat, leaving Pendera tenants without an emergency contact number. In fact, tenants called the Pendera emergency number on several occassions. The calls were unanswered.
Mr Kerr by participating in questionable and criminal acts, unrelated to his contractual duties, therefore neglected his duties and abused his public trust position on October 23, 24 and 25. Abandoning the tenants of the Pendera and other BC Housing buildings left vulnerable tenants in an unsafe and unsecure building. Tenants were not properly cared for.
Other activities of a fraudulent nature occurring at DERA is the allotment of BC Housing subsidies which are provided to DERA staff and other insider friends of the Anti Poverty Committee and DERA. These people, we allege, by-pass the regular waiting list of DERA Housing Society, which is to provide housing priority for those on the waiting list in dire medical need or living with financial hardship. Moreover, these individuals have their housing units publicly subsidised even though they make $20.00 an hour in their full-time work at DERA.
Mr. Russ Cunningham, father of APC organizer David Cunningham, is paid by DERA Housing to work full-time at the Pendera and other buildings under the control of DERA Housing Society. Further, Mr. Russ Cunningham resides in the publicly funded ( BC Housing ) Solheim place on Union Street. Mr. Russ Cunningham by-passed the regular waiting list.
David Cunningham is a a DERA board member and DERA staff member who also by-passed the regular waiting list and was provided subsidized accommodation in not one but two of DERA buildings, These being Solheim Place and Marie Gomez.
The live-in partner of Mr. David Cunningham, Jill Chettiar, is the DERA and DERA Housing board treasurer. Ms Chettiar also resides in the Solheim building. She is a full-time worker at the Portland Community Services. She also by-passed the regular BC Housing waiting list to receive a subsidized housing unit.
Other difficulties that tenants in DERA buildings encounter on a regular basis is widespread abuse from DERA and DERA Housing board members and staff. On numerous occasions, Ms Brenda Kereluk, the Vice-President of DERA and DERA Housing Society has left notes on the Pendera tenants public message board claiming that if tenants continue to complain about DERA and DERA Housing society, that we will be out on the street. We also have copies of Ms Kereluk's written notices.
On Tuesday, October 24, 2006, and for four days consecutive days running, the tenants of Pendera, many elderly and with chronic health problems were left without any hot water. Mr. Muirhead is the manager at Pendera and was absent from work during these four days even though these are his regularly scheduled days of work.
We the undersigned tenants of Pendera and as officers of the Pendera Tenants Association believe that DERA and DERA Housing has become complicit in questionable, fraudulent and criminal activities. There is widespread mis-use of public funds among senior staff of DERA. We have DERA financial records which shows DERA spent $30,000.00 in 2004/2005 on a project called Enabling. This project, we allege is a partnership with APC in which public trust monies was used to provide enabling behaviors to DERA and APC members for Illicit purposes.
Other concerns we have of DERA include a written policy which forbids the Vancouver Police Department from entering the Pendera building for investigative purposes.
We provide a DERA Police Policy directive to staff which forbids staff from allowing the Vancouver Police Department to enter DERA Housing buildings and or being allowed to question tenants for possible crimes or to arrest a tenant. This places law abiding tenants at Pendera at extreme risk and vulnerable to criminals. This Police Policy of DERA demonstrates that the DERA Housing Society and the current boards of DERA and DERA Housing Society are UNFIT to manage or properly care for the $15 Million worth of housing under its control.
We the undersigned would like BC Housing and different levels of government to properly investigate our concerns. In our opinion, there must be some mechanism available whereby DERA Housing tenants are safe and secure in subsidized Housing. We expect BC Housing and DERA Housing Society to be accountable to the governments of Vancouver, British Columbia and Canada to ensure their government subsidized tenants are not placed in harm's way, as is the current situation.
We demand immediate action.
Jamie Lee Hamilton
#804 - 133 West Pender
#708 - 133 West Pender Street