Housing Minister Rich Coleman and Mayor Gregor Robertson sure spend a lot of time together these days.
There they were again last Friday at another press conference announcing that another city property will become another social housing building in Vancouver.
The site at Fraser and Broadway is the 12th of 14 city properties the province agreed to provide construction and operating dollars for in an effort to reduce the number of people sleeping on the streets and residing in shelters.
The Streetohome Foundation is donating almost $2 million to the project which will offer 69 apartments for homeless adults and 30 apartments for youth.
The Vancouver Native Housing Society will operate the building which will include a new youth resource centre run by Pacific Community Resources Society.
Now, let me throw some math at you: When all 14 buildings are built and open — seven already are — there should be about 1,575 new units of housing.
When you subtract those 1,575 units from the 1,602 people counted as homeless in the city’s March 2012 homeless count, it doesn’t leave many people left without a home.
Also good, right?
Yes, except math is never that simple.
Neither is homelessness, nor predicting the future.
The city’s latest update on its homelessness strategy noted 38 per cent of people living in seven of the new buildings were previously homeless.
The next seven buildings should have at least 50 per cent of tenants come from the street or a shelter, according to an amended memorandum of understanding between the province and the city.
Another 30 per cent should come from single-room occupancy hotels and the remaining 20 per cent will be people at risk of homelessness, according to the agreement.
Yes, there’s been some interim housing made available —the former Biltmore hotel, the Dunsmuir and the Chez Soi program — but it’s still difficult to get a handle on whether homelessness will be a forgotten issue in this city in the near future.
So I asked Coleman if there are plans for a second phase of building social housing sites in Vancouver.
“We’ll assess it as we come through,” he said, noting more than 20 of the government-owned single-room occupancy hotels have or are undergoing renovations. “Obviously, the objective is to look at the [homeless] numbers and I think we’re pretty close in the numbers.”
Coleman noted the government has also spent about $200 million on other social housing projects around the province, including Quesnel and Prince George.
Robertson, however, has already made up his mind on the need for a second phase of construction of social housing in Vancouver.
“We definitely need to continue to build new supportive housing sites after the 14 are completed,” he said. “It’s ideal to have several a year committed to from the B.C. government and that’s a commitment we’re looking to secure. We’ll certainly put the land forward.”
Carr’s conduct questioned
As you may have read in my online story posted Friday, Mayor Gregor Robertson is considering options to investigate Green Party Coun. Adriane Carr under the city’s code of conduct rules.
He’s going ahead with this despite Carr’s public apology to city manager Penny Ballem. Carr had accused Ballem of bullying tactics in counselling her not to bring forward a motion on the controversial park board issue involving community centre associations. (See reams of copy on our website for more detail).
Apparently, Robertson didn’t see Carr’s apology as endeavouring “to resolve interpersonal disputes in good faith,” as set out in the code of conduct.
If Robertson chooses to appoint an independent investigator — a la someone like criminal lawyer Richard Peck — that person will have to provide a written confidential report of any findings to the mayor and Carr.
The investigator must also provide recommendations that may include dismissal of the complaint, “public censure of a councillor for misbehavior or a breach of the code,” a requirement the councillor apologize to any person adversely affected by a breach of the code (yep, done) or “counselling” of a councillor — whatever that means.