Today the numbers of the Metro Vancouver Homeless Count were released. Our work on homelessness and affordable housing is our highest priority, and has been since we were elected in 2008. Today’s numbers show that what we are doing is working. The number of street homeless is Vancouver declined by 82%: the number of homeless people on the street in Vancouver is 145, down from a high of 815 in 2008. This is great news for the people who no longer have to sleep outdoors in bad weather. It’s great news for our most vulnerable neighbourhoods. It’s great news for our city as a whole, as we make progress in ending the blight of street homelessness in Vancouver.
This shows the difference a progressive government can make for Vancouver. Mayor Gregor Robertson and our Vision Vancouver councillors have worked hard on homelessness and affordable housing. Our city government has opened new shelters throughout Vancouver, getting hundreds of people off the street every night. We’ve secured $333 million in funding for 1,500 new units of social housing. We have opened new housing, broken ground on new projects, secured substantial funding, and signed long-term agreements to get new housing built.
In 2008, we promised we would take action to end street homelessness by 2015. In 2011, we are seeing the results of the work we’ve done. The numbers are clear: we have reduced the number of street homeless in Vancouver. They also make clear that the job is not done. We’re continuing to work on securing more funding for affordable housing, to get targeted tax policies that support building more rental housing, and to find new and innovative ways to build housing in Vancouver.
Now, through the Talk Housing to Us initiative, we’re talking with Vancouver citizens and community groups on the best ways to implement our plan to end street homelessness and make our city more affordable for everyone. We need as many people as we can to be a part of the process. If you haven’t yet, sign up and Talk Housing to Us.
I want to thank you for your past support. Without it, we would not have made the progress we have on homelessness and affordable housing in Vancouver. We still have a lot of work to do, but with your support we will build an affordable city where no one has to sleep on the street.