Tuesday, January 06, 2009


Oldtown News
Vancouver, BC


One of the first actions Mayor Robertson upon his return from holidays in Mexico was to put out propaganda on the homelessness front.

The Mayor's office has put out a release stating the numbers of those who were settled into his worship's shelters during our freezing snap.

The only problem is the report is short on specifics regarding how these homeless were helped.

Just opening up some decrepit warehouse without proper safety codes in place is not an answer to homelessness. Neither is having a few of your United Church friends opening up their church to warehouse people on cold damp floors and hard pews.

In this release which is posted below there is no data in areas which would give voters confidence that our City's homeless are actually being assisted in meaningful ways.

Questions for example, the propaganda (release) doesn't address are:

1) Were any homeless citizens were referred to detox or treatment facilities?

2) Were any of those sheltered provided referrals to mental health teams for follow-up observation or support?

3) Did any of our homeless get seen by professional personnel to asses for medical conditions? Many of the homeless for example have communicable diseases.

4) Did the shelters seek information from the homeless so that a life link could be established with them?

We know from the Mayor's propaganda that the homeless were herded into the shelters like sheep and the staff were placed, though no fault of their own in adult babysitting roles.

This just so the Mayor could return from his holiday after not even one month on the job to inform us how many homeless camped out in Gregor's shelters.

That Mr Mayor is truly offensive. Homeless citizens deserve better.

Jamie Lee Hamilton

Mayor announces HEAT shelter numbers from December

"No barrier" facilities provide shelter for almost 300 a night

Almost 300 homeless people found shelter every night over the past three weeks in emergency facilities opened by the Homeless Emergency Action Team (HEAT), Mayor Gregor Robertson said today.

More than 4,000 visits to emergency facilities were reported during the first two weeks of operation in December, providing shelter for 280 people each night.

"The facilities that HEAT helped open in the final weeks of December have provided safe, secure shelter for close to 300 people a night," Robertson said. "All three shelters were at capacity, providing refuge for some of the hardest-to-house people living on our streets."

The Homeless Emergency Action Team, or HEAT, was launched on December 9th. The 13-person team, composed of City staff, council members, health and safety professionals, and housing stakeholders, works to take immediate action in getting people off the street and into shelter this winter.

Robertson said there was a "no barrier" approach taken by HEAT shelters, which has been the key to bringing homeless people in off the street during the recent cold weather.

"Many homeless people are reluctant to come to a shelter, often because they can't bring certain personal belongings inside," said Robertson. "HEAT helped make sure that these emergency shelters allow people with pets and shopping carts. By removing barriers and putting the housing of people first, the Homeless Emergency Action Team has been able to help bring people in off the street at night."

The three facilities opened in the first phase of the HEAT shelter strategy are:

· First United Church, which through contributions of $10,000 from the City, the Province, the Streetohome Foundation, and St. Andrew's-Wesley Church, can remain open 24/7 for the next two months; and

· 1435 Granville and the Stanley New Fountain, which are funded through contributions of $500,000 from the City, the Province, and the Streetohome Foundation.

The shelters reported the following capacities for the last half of December:

· The First United Church had roughly 210 people a night since December 19th;

1 1435 Granville, operated by RainCity Housing, had a total of 429 people stay over the course of December 20th- January 1st, for an average of 33 people a night; and

· The Stanley New Fountain Hotel, operated by the Portland Hotel Society, had 549 people stay over the course of December 19th - January 2nd, with an average of 37 people a night.

Another shelter at 240 Northern Way-the third to be opened under a three-way partnership between the City, the Province, and the Streetohome Foundation-is expected to hold between 80-100 people. It will open during the week of January 12th.

"The fact that these no-barrier shelters filled up within days of opening shows how dire the situation on our streets is," said Mayor Robertson.

"The City, in partnership with the Province and other housing stakeholders, needs to continue to work towards ending homelessness - and that means we need to be creating more permanent, long-term housing. These shelters are just a small, temporary step, and there is a lot more work to be done."

Media Contact: Kevin Quinlan
Executive Assistant to the Mayor
City of Vancouver


At 1:23 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

But isn't it better than nothing? Sure it's not an ideal situation - people sleeping on hard pews - but Gregor's been in office a month and a half and already done a fair amount.
Now I'm not a person who voted for him - but I am impressed with the fact that he's trying - it's a start - it's not the end and nobody is saying it is... but it's a beginning and that's what we need.

At 10:41 AM, Blogger Jamie Lee Hamilton said...


Let me say this. If you were actually homeless would you be happy being offered a hard pew or cold floor to sleep on?

While it is easy to say as you do that this is better than being outside, I'm not certain either is acceptable.

When we allow substandard conditions to exist and do so by hackneyed claims that this is better for the homeless in really troubling.

Only those with homes or those who have never been homeless can make claims like this.

But here is something else. Each shelter is given approximately $500,000 to babysit adults who have serious medical issues including drug addiction and mental health concerns. Each of Gregor's Shelters warehouse approx 35 citizens.

So the question is it acceptable to herd people into warehouses without basics sanitary facilities such as showers or bathtubs and the money earmarked goes for staff wages and administrative costs.

Wouldn't it be more prudement and helpful to the homeless if we spend that $500,000 assisting them with medical treatment which they so desperately need?

At 10:29 PM, Blogger Dirk Buchholz said...

Its a start proper housing can not be built over night.(I have been homeless)And at least be fair the Mayor understand this a stop gap measure(s).In fact he has said supportive housing is a must,it is the only way to deal with many of the problems you raised.
I wish things could be sped up,but in the mean time the Mayor deserves support and a little more time before any pronouncement(relevant) on his progresses or lack of can be made.

P.S Why do you moderate ?just ignore comments you find offensive ,this is a much better policy.Moderation implies censorship, fear of dissenting views,or a need to control/manage.

At 11:01 PM, Blogger Jamie Lee Hamilton said...

Hi Dirk

Thanks for your comments.

I moderate due to some really offensive emails and trust me they are really awful.

I don't think readers of my blog want to see spewed hate and they add nothing to opinions or discourse.

Contrary I do not censor at all and while I took your comments seriously I just don't understand why people need to resort to forming some opinion that I must have some hidden motive.

Jamie Lee


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