Guest Blog by raincoaster – presenting a challenge
“The view is more beautiful now that it is mine.” Ran
I can be challenging. Boris knows it, Melissa knows it, the nation of Albania knows it, I know it, you know it (well you know now, don’t you?). So I’d like to put this inherent challengenosity (a raincoasterism) of mine to good use and dare your city to match or beat my city in something that really matters. Read on, if you think your humble burb has what it takes:
We all know this blog belongs to the Mayor of London (although detached it is still his in spirit), and before that was based out of the cosmopolitan megalopolis of Henley, but for a moment I’d like to divert your attention to my own town, indeed my own neighborhood. I’d like to introduce you to Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. (More photos of Hendrik on his revolving chair here)
With an average life expectancy in the mid-forties (thanks to disease, addiction, and the interlocking social and physical problems arising from substandard- or no housing), the DTES (Downtown Eastside) has been an archetypal skid row since the days in the last century when lumber was, in fact, skidded in the mud down the street on its way to the sawmill because wagons were for the rich folk.
Now, after more than a century of struggling with the issue, I’m proud to say that Vancouver has eliminated homelessness.
Image by Peter Davies, From the Hope in Shadows collection, COPYRIGHT: Pivot Legal Society, 2009
Yes, Homelessness is Over! Watch this amazing news story
We anticipate increased life expectancy (as much as thirty years for DTES residents), a significant drop in crime (particularly violent crime), and an estimated $5000 per person “housing dividend,” reflecting the difference in social service expenditures between the housed and the homeless.
If a Canadian may toot her city’s own horn, this is truly an amazing accomplishment and Mayor Gregor (Robertson), Premier Gordon Campbell, City Hall, social service agencies, advocacy groups and officials at all levels should be very, very proud. I salute them. Who can even imagine how it must feel to know, unequivocally, that you’ve changed the world for the better.
Gregor Robertson at Union Gospel Mission by AHA Media
Here is the official Homelessness is Over press release, via the Pivot Legal Society, a great organization whose mandate is to ensure that the laws of the nation apply equally to all, and who are always on top of positive (and negative) developments in housing for the homeless in Vancouver:
Vancouver Ends Homelessness! City’s last homeless person moves into social housing
November 24, 2009 – For Immediate Release
Vancouver’s housing crisis is finally over. Today Ray Solda, Vancouver’s last homeless person, moved into his room in the Kansas Hotel, a new social housing building funded by the provincial government. Government officials and Canadians everywhere today are celebrating the end of homelessness in Vancouver, a city that has struggled with a homelessness crisis for years.
Today’s announcement is the result of a number of key investments made by the provincial government to build social and supportive housing as part of their visionary comprehensive housing strategy. Despite the up-front costs, government and experts alike are confident that ending homelessness in Vancouver will actually save money over the long term.
“The years of spiralling rates of homelessness, derelict hotels, over-crowded shelters and laws punishing those without a safe place to live are going to be remembered as a dark page in this province’s history” says Laura Track, Pivot’s housing campaigner. “But the way this government changed course and resolved the crisis is a testament to what is possible when governments show real leadership and determination to make positive social change.”
Already, Vancouver is being held up as model for the rest of the country. Governments around the world are looking to the province for guidance in addressing homelessness in their jurisdictions. When asked what role she felt advocacy work had in ending homelessness, Track commented: “This accomplishment is the result of people coming together and saying they would not settle for anything less than an end to homelessness. It took everyday people saying yes, I will welcome social housing into my neighbourhood and taxpayers recognizing that it makes financial sense to tackle homelessness. Finally, it took governments hearing the call and making the decision to act.”
Once again: simply amazing. This is an incredible example to the rest of the world.
So you tell me: does London have what it takes?
You can learn more about London’s Housing and Homelessness Strategy here