Sunday, March 22, 2009


Oldtown News
Vancouver, BC


On Feb 21, 2009, I wrote a story RIP Wendy Marlene Desjarlais which inspired a story written by Brian Hutchinson in this Saturday's National Post.

Wendy Marlene Desjarlais died in an rodent-infested apartment with no one supporting her. In fact Ms Desjarlais had been moved into Suite 208 at the Pendera apartment which is operated by DERA. This happened even though the previous elderly deceased Asian tenant Mr Lindsay Wong still had many of his possessions remaining there.

Ms Desjarlais was palliative (meaning she was dying) and hastily moved into the Pendera on instructions according to the National Post story, by the boss of DERA who is Mr Kim Kerr. The Pendera it should be noted is not a special needs residence nor does it have nursing staff or personal care attendants.

DERA broke the law when it moved Ms Desjarlais into the apartment.

The residential tenancy act (RTA) clearly states that before a suite is rented, it must first be inspected, cleaned and ready for move-in.

None of the above occurred and someone must be held responsible for this.

BC Housing which is a crown corporation of the provincial government has a contract with DERA who hold $15 million in provincial housing assets.

DERA at one time was a credible organization fighting for the rights of downtrodden Downtown Eastside residents but today it is more known for its criminal activities.

Its executive director Kim Kerr threatened former City Councillor Elizabeth Ball and then had the nerve to sue another Councillor, Mr. Peter Ladner, who publicly disclosed the threat. The judge recently dismissed the case brought by Mr Kerr saying she believed Ms Ball and another former Councillor B.C. Lee's testimony over that of Mr. Kerr.

The threat levelled by Mr Kerr at Ms Ball was that she would look good lying in an alley with her red scarf tied around her neck.

BC Housing even though it has received numerous complaints against DERA has so far taken no action against DERA. The Executive Director remains in place at DERA, being paid a very generous taxpayer funded salary. Moreover, BC Housing doesn't seem to care that Mr Kerr's legal bills from a frivolous and vexatious suit will probably be paid out of allocated BC Housing funds. Talk about a misuse of funds.

Is this the type of person we want leading a publicly funded organization?

Many residents in the Oldtown area are questioning whether Mr Kerr has the capabilities and qualifications to lead this organization. Sadly, many are asking the same questions of the DERA board. To sit on a board, board members have a legal and fiduciary duty, however, those at DERA ikely don't understand this. Many of the DERA board members are drug addicted or mentally ill and they are easily manipulated.

Here is another example of concerning behaviour regarding DERA's Mr Kim Kerr. Why did he a few months ago move into the Pendera, a 21 year old Native male into a building which has a qualification requirement that you must be 45years of age and older? Also, there is a waiting list for non-profit housing so why did this young man scoot to the top of what is arguably a lengthy waiting list?

In fact, is Mr Kerr mis-using his authority to skirt around BC Housing regulations when he personally grants suites to those not on the waiting list?

It is ironic that tomorrow Monday, March 23, 2009, Mr Kerr is co-hosting a meeting on factory-built housing with Housing Consultant Michael Geller who has a contract with the British Columbia government to conduct a feasibility study on factory-built temporary housing as an solution to the rampant homelessness in the City of Vancouver.

Why Mr Geller who is this real nice guy and has an excellent reputation on matters related to housing and the arts would partner up with DERA is really perplexing. For that matter why is the government partnering up with DERA and its Executive Director considering their rampant housing/tenancy violations and criminal threats to public officials?

Perhaps Mr Rich Coleman, the Minister of Housing should address these issues. I think Ms Dejarlais dying in such an undignified way deserves a Ministerial response. Don't you think so too Minister Coleman?

Jamie Lee Hamilton