Tuesday, February 20, 2007


It Only Preserves Ghetto Housing

The PIVOT legal society was founded in 200o. It's mandate as affirmed on their website states, "The problem Pivot is attempting to solve is that of marginalization, and its attendant harms, both subtle and gross". It chose to focus on the Downtown Eastside. Many of its early actions were admirable.

PIVOT has put together a few policy reports which go to the heart of marginalization and justice issues. These reports have had an impact. PIVOT fought for the rights of sex trade workers and their manifesto, Voices of Dignity, calls out for the need for justice. Katrina Pacey, a PIVOT staff lawyer continues to champion for the eradication of violence against survival sex trade workers. Ms Pacey continues to be a leading staffer at PIVOT. She is someone I respect immensely.

Recently, however, PIVOT has embarked on a campaign around social housing issues. This crusade is being led by PIVOT staff lawyer, David Eby. PIVOT legal produced a report 'Cracks in the Foundation', which presents an overview of the homelessness issue but doesn't offer any real tangible solutions. Whether PIVOT should be considered strong advocates for the poor or marginalized is now called into question.

This latest PIVOT brand of advocacy falls far short of providing real solutions to the plight of the poor or homeless. It focuses all its efforts on the need to maintain SRO's as low cost affordable housing. They haven't yet realized that SRO's are not considered low cost housing. In fact, its substandard housing. There are huge costs associated with living in Ghetto Housing and of course PIVOT fails to address this .

Continuously, PIVOT sends out press releases about how another SRO is about to close or convert. It calls on the City to stop the conversion of SRO's or pleads with them to enact its standard of maintenance bylaw. Its almost like David Eby has romanticized SRO's as being the solution to homelessness and that's pathetic.

Sadly, this is where PIVOT makes a critical mistake. In actuality, promoting or pushing to maintain crumbling Ghetto Housing smacks of complete disregard for the poor. Why should lower income people have to reside in dirty, filthy, unsanitary and unsafe conditions? Mr. Eby knows full well, that our City standards of maintenance bylaw only allows for cosmetic changes. It allows for re-painting of a room, perhaps patching holes in walls and fixing of broken windows.
This focus by PIVOT, hence, pokes huge holes in their manifesto of attempting to address the problem of marginalization. In fact they further marginalize lower income citizens by focusing entirely on SRO's as the panacea or solution to homelessness.

Its interesting to note that the Aboriginal community makes up 17% of the Downtown Eastside population, yet, comprises 50% of SRO residents. Moreover, only 2% of the Aboriginal population reside in the Downtown Eastside's truly affordable quality replacement social housing. Look at Dera' dismal record of housing Aboriginal citizens. And PIVOT works closely with Dera and the Anti poverty gang.

In case you don't understand marginalization Mr. Eby, take a good hard look at the indisputable facts above.

All your blustering calls do is maintain our Aboriginal and poorer citizens in squalid like conditions. This smacks of racism and is nothing short of an assault on the poor. PIVOT should be truly ashamed.

It seems like the only benefit to come out of the Cracks in the Foundation report'. has been yours Mr. Eby. A report of course, which you also gleaned financial reward. A cynic might even claim that you Mr. David Eby are exploiting the poor because your continuous selling of maintaining Ghetto Housing (SRO's) to a duped media and public, fails to address real solutions for real people living in real inhumane conditions.

Simply put, 'Cracks in the Foundation' in my opinion, is a crass, appalling, opportunistic attempt to cash in while appearing to care for the poor. It kind of reminds me of a well known local American draft dodger who given the same opportunity by the media, ensured his own comfortable security while abandoning the life, liberty and security of others.

Let me put it this way Mr. Eby, you are no Harry Rankin or Bruce Eriksen. These men were real champions of the poor, marginalized and disenfranchised and disempowered. You will never ever come close to filling their shoes.

Jamie Lee Hamilton