Motion demands that Vancouver allow absolutely no net loss of housing for the homeless
VANCOUVER (Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh Territories) - With over 750 units of Temporary Modular Housing (TMH) are at risk, Councillor Christine Boyle has tabled a motion to demand that City Council act to protect and extend that housing, before badly-needed homes for the homeless are lost.
The motion directs City staff to work towards renewing or extending leases for Temporary Modular Housing, as well as identifying new sites for these buildings, if/when they need to be relocated to build permanent supportive housing.
At the end of this month, Larwill Place, which opened in 2018, will see its lease expire - with 98 badly-needed homes on the line. Tenants are being relocated into permanent supportive housing, but the end of these leases has raised community concern.
Across Vancouver, hundreds of TMH units have leases that will expire in the next few years. Boyle’s motion, if passed, would grant these structures a new lease on life - and ensure that those living in them remain safely housed.
“In Vancouver, we say that housing is a human right - but how can we say that if we allow these leases to expire? With a housing shortage in Vancouver, we can’t allow these supportive units to disappear,” said Christine Boyle, City Councillor, OneCity Vancouver.
Along with extending the ten-year time limit on TMH structures, these reforms will provide security for tenants and housing providers, and ensure that there is no net loss of shelter rate housing while permanent supportive housing comes online.
The physical structures that make up Vancouver’s supply of Temporary Modular Housing are strong, durable, and can last for decades. The only reason that these sites are “temporary” is due to the land lease arrangements. Action by City Council would allow these buildings to continue providing shelter, health and dignity to those Vancouverites most in need, while even more supportive housing comes online.
This is more than the right thing to do, it’s the smart thing to do. Supportive housing residents are 64% less likely than shelter clients to use ambulance services, and the average hospital stay for those residents is 50% shorter than those of shelter clients.
When combined with the significant policing, outreach, sanitation and shelter costs that homelessness creates, it’s clear: extending these leases, and saving these units, is the smartest and most efficient use of taxpayer dollars.
Vancouver is losing affordable SRO units to rent increases, fires, and habitability issues at a rate of 150-200 per year. Losing Temporary Modular Housing units would make a dire situation even more severe - potentially leading to more encampments, as residents are evicted with nowhere to go.
“Our homelessness problem is severe - and if we don’t act today to extend these leases, identify new sites, and extend timelines, it is likely to get even worse,” continued Boyle. “When it comes to housing the homeless, we must move forward. We can’t take even one step back.”
Boyle’s motion comes to Council on Wednesday, July 12.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING ABOUT COUNCILLOR BOYLE’S MOTION:
“The City of Vancouver has a responsibility to house all of its residents - including residents who are unhoused. Allowing these leases to expire would be a major, and unacceptable, step backwards. If Vancouver is to live up to humane values, it must pass Councillor Boyle’s motion without delay.”
Jean Swanson, former Vancouver City Councillor
“Housing is a human right. Building housing for people who are unhoused, underhoused or at risk of homelessness is how we make that right real. Renewing the City’s leases for badly-needed modular housing would demonstrate Vancouver’s commitment to ensuring that everyone is housed in safety and dignity.”
Amanda Burrows, Executive Director, First United
"As one of the largest providers of supportive housing in Greater Vancouver, we know that the supply we have is not nearly enough. There are thousands of homeless people in our Metro Area, and many more who are underhoused, or at risk of homelessness. To refuse to renew these leases would be taking a major step back, when we need to be making strides forward, towards a city where everyone has a place to call home."
Shayne Williams, CEO, Lookout Society
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
OneCity Vancouver communications committee