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Yaletown residents go to war against winter homelessness shelter and also the “huge self-perpetuating social service industry”

December 13th, 2012 · 83 Comments

Just to give a flavour of what is happening out on the battleground, as Yaletown residents ramp up resistance to the winter shelter that has been opened in their neighbourhood — a memo from the inside, with recommended strategies to fight the war.
For those unfamiliar with the shelter situation: The province funds a number of permanent shelters throughout the region. As well, because of pressure from Vancouver council, it has also agreed to open temporary winter shelters the last four years. (Normally, shelters were only opening on the worst nights of the winter, staffed by volunteers, and with beds available only at night — no hanging out during the day.)
There are three other shelters operating as of yesterday: one on East 5th and Ontario, as this note makes mention of, another near Commercial, which I haven’t heard any comments on, and a third on Richards, also in Yaletown.
All of the locations this year are different from previous years. Last year, the Mount Pleasant shelter was somewhere near Mount St. Joseph Hospital, and there were two others in the Granville area. The year before, there was a shelter in Kitsilano, one in Mount Pleasant at the corner of Fraser and Broadway, one near Stanley Park, and one in the Granville area.
And now, to the memo.
EMERY BARNES PARK COMMUNITY ASSN.
UPDATE DEC. 12/12
 
Please tune into CKNW AM 980 this morning (Wednesday), at 8:45 a.m.. Sharon will be representing our group on the Bill Good Show, regarding the heat shelter.  
It is important that some of our group be listening, and willing to call in with comment, because we have found the calls that come in traditionally are very uneducated, still accusing us of  NIMBY even after our speaking to the saturation of social services in the area, and naïve people buying the city’s line that the shelter will not affect the area, and only be temporary, which we suspect is not true. We need some educated calls to reinforce our message.
 
Those of you unable to listen the show at that time, can check out the CKNW news vault on the web to hear it online.
 
THE NEXT PHASE OF OUR RESISTANCE TO VISION COUNCIL, REGARDING THE SEYMOUR ST. SHELTER.
As is obvious, our approach to the situation with the shelter changes with its opening, to one of wait and see, and report every incident that might impact the area and the park. Very often it is quiet outside the building, which is good news. It is all a matter of timing whether or not you experience outfall, as a few people have been upset by noise and loitering. Now it is up to everyone to scrutinize, and report any misbehavior at 911 for an incident report, and 311 to the city.
 
It would be good to drop in to say hello, and remind the workers that the neighbours are counting on them to take care of the block and the park. They evidently have a budget to hire their tenants to do the sweep work. We have had a disturbing letter come in from a resident of Space who could not get their attention to diffuse a scary situation at his entrance to the Space side gate. That points out why we must make sure the workers are responsive to their responsibilities outside the shelter, as we have been promised they would be by RainCity.
 
A call to 911 is the suggested response to trouble (the police told us to use it) It will register any complaint you might have, and will allow the police to take care of any problem, so there is no discomfort or risk to yourself.  We repeat: CALL 911 FOR ANY INFRACTION, NO MATTER HOW MINOR. IF YOU SEE LOITERING ON THE WALLS OR DOORWAYS OF ADJOINING BUILDINGS, OR SMOKING WITHIN 6 METERS OF THE DOORWAY, OR IF YOU EXPERIENCE ANY DISRESPECT FROM ANY SHELTER CLIENT THAT MAKES YOU FEEL UNSAFE, CALL.

What we have accomplished by our intense resistance to the location of the 1210 Seymour shelter:

A. WE have torn off the sheep’s clothing of the Vision Council, and exposed the undemocratic process in the creation of these shelters. Since 2008, everyone has experienced the same thing: Building in secret, then just before the shelter opens neighbours are told,  Emergency…. only spot we could find….. temporary……etc.
We have not received the city’s supposed reports regarding where the homeless are situated which we requested. We know there are homeless in Vancouver, but doubt the volume is such in our particular area, to justify that two of the four shelters in the City of Vancouver are within five blocks of each other in New Yaletown.
 
We did not see the depth and breadth of their supposed intensive search for location. Did they restrict themselves to edge of Yaletown, because the Business community did not want the shelters on a commercial street? (Actually a better location than residential, and where the homeless were most likely spending their time anyway.) We were told agents are sent out, and it is fair to assume that they returned delighted when they found an owner willing to rent to them, and looked no further.
 
 
B. The issue of misrepresentation, or spin put on data In last week’s Province article, and on the Simi Sera show on CKNW Jang has said he will not promise not to return to the same site ‘if it is still available”.  We suspect that it will be, as it is logical the developer will not redevelop until the other leases on his assembled property are up in three years, and we guess that this has likely has been discussed by the city upon renting for this year. The property owner has not responded to our calls, letter or emails for a meeting with us about his future plans, to dispel our misgivings.
 
Clr. Jang and Vision Council has to be pushed to look for an alternative site now to have on standby for next year. Winter comes every year, and there is no excuse to say that it is a last minute emergency bringing them back to 1210 Seymour St. That didn’t wash this year, and cannot wash next year when they can start looking now.
 
C. At this point, the fight clearly becomes political, challenging the Vision Council on its practices, and also questioning the efficacy and safety of current shelter policies. With the shelter just open a few days, we are already receiving some complaints of intimidation by shelter tenants toward our residents, and the workers inside not responding to a request for help.
 
My area of expertise in the fight has been, and will continue to be, to point out the total unacceptability of the 1210 Seymour site for the HEAT shelter based on my previous experience having fought against it being used for Social Services before. Erich Hershen and I have created lots of waves, and will continue to do so: to the point that Clr. Jang made a point about a professional media blitz against them. The reality is, the story is newsworthy, because the city has not acted with integrity.
 
 Now we need people who can question the misuse of Government power, and question the methodology and value of such shelters, to step up to lead us.  People with a vested interest in challenging the existing council, should be interested in taking up this challenge. THIS GOES BEYOND THE MEMBERSHIP OF OUR LITTLE ASSOCIATION. WHO DO YOU KNOW WHO WILL STEP IN TO TAKE THIS TO THE NEXT LEVEL, WITH OUR SUPPORT?
 
Plus questioning the city about their platitudes – studies they say they have done to prove there is homeless “in our area” such that it necessitated 2 shelters out of the four in the whole city, placed within 5 blocks of each other in New Yaletown. (The shelter at 21st and E 5th says some tenants there have arrived by cab. Hard to believe, but supporting the suspicion of importing tenants from farther away in the city, not close by.)

A few things that can be done immediately
1/Someone to request the studies from them under the Freedom of Information Act.” The homeless are located all over the whole of Vancouver South, and we want to know from where they are bringing them to us. Definitely there are some homeless in old Yaletown, but when questioned I have been told many of those wouldn’t go into a shelter, not feeling safe there.
2/Something else to be done: we need book learning about best placement principles from schools of urban planning, and social work, and /or bylaws in other cities anywhere in the western world, that support the best placement principles quoted in our last press release, which of course the papers never pickup.

3/We need to question everything they claim about the effectiveness of the shelters operation: how many homeless are still on the street, who won’t come in: The claim that supervisors in the shelters are trained in special techniques to treat the homeless: (When I went in, I found two former street youth in charge, who definitely know many of the clients, and have instructions of who to call if it gets out of hand. However, we don’t know what else they are trained to do to encourage the street people into permanent homes.)

Many communities are in an uproar over affordable (some of it supportive?) housing being thrust oversized in their neighbourhoods. (Dunbar is a good example of being angry.)  Of course we know that zoning must change in Vancouver to accommodate growth, but it must be done in consultation with the community: Not just calling a meeting to tell the citizens what you are going to do, but to hear the citizens, and not just to hear – an empty exercise, but to LISTEN. I have also gotten a phone call from tenants in supportive housing, saying behaviour inside them is out of control, with residents being accosted, and it not being a well supervised, safe situation. This is housing for which the tenants pay a share, and not a shelter. What a rabbit hole.
We need someone with some social service background, who doesn’t have a conflict of interest, to question on our part the whole continuum of services to the homeless, and not accept pat answers. There seems to be a huge self perpetuating social service industry, with multi millions of dollars being spent, most of it effectively we are sure, but some of it to be questioned for efficacy. Is warehousing of homeless for 5 months, as is happening here, for a cost of minimally $2,200 per month per bed, the most effective way of helping? ($400,000 operating costs divided by 40 equals $10,000 operating costs per bed for the 5 months, plus a share of the remodeling costs done by the city, guestimating that it had to cost much more than $40,000 to refit the garage for human habitation, but minimally amortizing a share of that figure $1,000.00 per bed, or $200. per bed a month 5 months.  Who can determine the absolute, actual cost of all this?
Is there a disability pension received by the homeless? I know it is hard for them to receive it, when having no address. Who has information on this?  Is there a better way that all this societal investment should be used to better serve both the homeless, and also respect the efforts of the tax paying citizens to create a comfortable urban neighbourhood? How do you treat the cause, rather than the symptom?
Lastly, we have to all get REALLY involved in the next civic election in two years, and make sure it is not a solid Vision council.  Currently, Clr. George Affleck is very sensible, and Adrienne Carr is open to facts, whereas the rest are a solid party line, with the admirable mandate of ending homelessness as their first priority, but with no consultation and setting up guidelines with the communities they impact, and with no consideration of the former mandate under the previous administration, which had drawn us to live downtown – LIVEABILITY in a diverse neighbourhood. In the case of the Seymour Street Shelter location, it has tipped the block from a diverse residential street, into a Social Services enclave.
Someone mentioned we are invited to a meeting in early January. Who has this information? I have missed it. In the meantime, drop in to see the shelter. They have invited us to do so. I did this before they had many residents. It is all one big space, just like in the Metro News picture with a maze of mattresses on the floor. I can’t imagine sleeping in such close quarters, or if sleep is possible with no curfews, a TV area planned for one corner, people chatting at tables, and, supported by sound we have heard on the street, people coming and going all night.

We must keep up our pressure. There was an interview on the Simi Sara Show, which you can access by going to CKNW  and clicking on their radio vault for Dec. 4, 2 p.m. I was on at 2:05, and after a commercial break, Clr. Jang was on. Ms. Sara asked him a few good questions, the most important one, after Clr. Jang once again flew the “temporary” banner, she pushed it, asking if they would return to the site again, and he affirmed that they would if there was the need, and if the site was still available.  Based on experience we know that there is always a need, and  suspect the site will be available for at least the next three to four years, so that is all the more reason for you all to get involved, and get your neighbours to sign up to receive our mail out, and to send letters to the city.

So who is willing to step up for this stage? I must return to my own life, willing to support, but not to be the point person, nor the media voice on issues with which I am not conversant. This is NOW POLITICAL, not just neighbours upset with bad placement of a shelter. (Even though we will continue to fight this). Who is interested in political brownie points?

At this point, as mentioned, it gets bigger than our one shelter. I have been contacted now with the next door neighbour of the shelter at 21 east 5th, where there was the same story of no-one knowing the shelter was being built – not even the police- and where already needles are appearing, and our contact saw a beating.

 
His name is[personal information removed].
I am sending him our information. At this point, it proves it doesn’t matter that we had a just cause not to have it on our block: it is bigger than that, and a fight against the bad governance of Vision council, period. I am not the person to lead that fight.  Who do you know who is?

Our new “partners” beside the 21st and E.5th shelter have a lot to bring to the table. The [residents around the shelter] are documenting what is going on around their shelter.

Once again, we mention having great new handouts, which we want to put into your hands and purses, to share with neighbours who will want to know how to contact us. That is how you can help: Keep on educating our community. It is our job to let the city know we care, and won’t stop caring. The opening of the shelter was a given: Now we must fight to keep it from negatively affecting our neighbourhood, and work to assure its departure as promised: Temporary, NOT seasonal. If they try to bring it back, it has to go through due process of development board hearing.

Spread our email address:seymour.residents@gmail.com   for information, handouts and to sign up to our update list.
And once again, please write to city hall with any complaints and your experiences now that the shelter has opened. Hopefully, you will not be unduly affected. Many will, particularly those living right next to it.
 

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  • brilliant

    @MB-hopefully nobody will hold it against you. Sorry for the spelling above, small phone+ cold fingers.

  • Silly Season

    @Brilliant #46 and @MB #47

    I agree. And I was going to mention this the other night, as I saw the predictable outrage from some of the ‘usual’ posters.

    Funny how they bemoan the “uncivil state of affairs” in our political system—but are the first ones to smear and catcall others concerns.

    That’s called ‘hypocracy”. Wouldn’t it be better to look at all concerns before shooting mouths off?

    So, let’s talk about who the ‘homeless’ are in this case. We are not talking about people who are temporarily homeless by some bad stroke of luck.

    Many, if not most, have two conditions. They are drug addicts or mentally ill people or a combination of the two. Many posters here get all warm and fuzzy and feel that the offer of lodging–in a temporary shelter—is adequate. YAY! We have them off the street! (Whether they want to be, or not—but that’s another story).

    Great. I’m glad you are all in such a self-congratulatory mood.

    But let’s dig into this a little deeper. The shelters, being “temporary” are providing a BARE MINIMUM of service to homeless, mentally ill and addicted people.

    Additionally, there is a not a constant of care amongst shelters, as I understand it. In order to be able to claim that the body count is taking people off the street, shelters seem to work with few additional resources.

    These would include:

    *the power to oversee (order) that tenants to take their meds (or even, have meds). One can imagine how much fun such a place would be for staff to run with clients hallucinating or having delusional episodes. In a word: chaotic.

    *Lack of enforcement and a tendency to “look away” when “house rules” are being broken. eg drug taking, fighting, lack of cleanliness. Again, much of this kind of thing is attributable to the kind of mental illness that is part of the world of the homeless here.

    Now, remember these are supposed to be TEMPORARY shelters—in no way, shape or form can they be considered ‘supportive’ housing.

    Now, let’s look at it from theYaletown neighbours viewpoint. BTW, I read the letter, above, and saw a whole lot more communications between concerned YTners and shelter staff than the knee jerk reaction I have read here to their concerns, questions and outreach. But I digess…

    So, let’s say you, and possibly your family, is living in a neighbourhood with a transient homeless population–that is largely addicted and/or mentally ill—, put up in temporary (not supportive) shelters. You have reached out to shelter staff, who may divulge that they have limited resources and even more limited experience in dealing with mentall ill, addicted people.

    Oh, yes. One more thing. You (apparently) have not had the courtesy of contact from anyone at City Hall as to what/why/how this is all happening. No offer of a staffer as a liasion, no particular person to address and problems to who —very possibly—could assuage your complaints. You have been instructed—instructed—by the VPD to call 911 if anything worrisome is happening.

    Well, there’s good neighbourhood planning all way round, eh? That’s a sound process! And I know many of you here understand process…

    Naturally, since you have been left alone in the dark, you may be concerned that you will experience OR have already expereinced any one of the following from the mentally ill transient population, now located in a ‘pop up’ temporay shelter next to your home:

    * human feces on your doorstep
    * needles in the street
    * disorientation and incoherence (are they OK?! )
    *sudden displays of anger or violent anger or utterances of threats that you, as a lay person, cannot judge in terms of where it will go next (Am I/mywife/husband/kids going to be OK?!)

    And please. Don’t go talking about “the same behaviours” displayed by drunken Canucks fans or drug dealers. You know that the day to day problems and needs faced by mentall yill/addicted homeless is quite different from the idiocy from the idiots I have mentioned.

    So before you all go high fiving each other in a splendid display of solidarity over these temporary shelters—that sound like they are being run as drop-in centres and NOT as supportive housing/treatment centres, do give a thought to the whole neighbourhood. They have legitimate concerns.

    And the right to some answers.

  • Silly Season

    Sorry, Frances.

    Everthing after “And the right to some answers’ was part of an earlier draft or was intended to be worked into the body copy above, before I accidently hit the “Submit’ button.

    I’m sure everyone gets the gist, at at any rate.

  • IanS

    @Silly Season #49:

    But… but.. but… self-righteous moral indignation makes us feel good!

  • Silly Season

    @Ian S #51

    Sadly, that appears to be the case.

  • Silly Season

    Related, and in consideration of recent events:

    With regard to mental illness and homelessness, are our ‘temporary shelters’ acting as mere holding pens, much in the same way that prisons in the US are used to ‘house’ their mentally ill?

    Just askin’…

    http://anarchistsoccermom.blogspot.ca/2012/12/thinking-unthinkable.html?m=1

  • Richard

    @Silly

    An amazing amount of illogically arguments crammed into very few words. Well done.

    The comparison to US prisons is absurd. Voluntary shelters are very different from forced confinement.

    No one is claiming that the shelters are all that is needed. They may save a life or two so people can recieve the help they need later on.

    Instead of slamming the shelters, why don’t you lobby the province and the Feds for more resources for treatment.

  • Higgins

    Temporary shelters are a rushed, shameless mayor/ Vision band aid, to save face and pretend they care.
    Check their backgrounds. They all live comfortably in their million dollar houses, travel the world, for conferences, photo ops, orders from their rich american charitable friends…
    4 years of nothing in the homelessness or affordable housing department. Only smoke and mirrors.
    Vancouver deserves better.
    Feliz navidad.

  • brilliant

    @Higgins 55-it would be interesting to know the closest shelters to Mayor & Council. I believe only Affleck and Stevenson live dwntwn.

  • Silly Season

    @Richard #54

    I don’t “dismiss’ that easily, Richard. :-)

    But I like getting your attention!

    To me, shelters and prisons are similiar—in that they both put people away to a degree. Out of sight/off the street, out of mind, yes?

    Except, at least, that prisons offer programming!

    I certianly hope that you are lobbying, too.

  • Laura Stannard

    Why has this small group been given such a huge media space?

  • Ashley

    I wouldn’t get too up in arms about this silly letter considering the author flat out says that they can’t/won’t lead the charge. It’s a movement without a leader.

    “Somebody else should do something about this.”. Definitely not a NIMBY. Yeah right.

  • brilliant

    @ashley 58-they’re not a “movement” just ordinary citizens looking out for their neighbourhood.

  • waltyss

    @Silly Season. you have written at length on a difficult issue and one on which people in good faith differ. Unfortunately in the process you have put your lot in with brilliant not and his view that these people are leeches. Hopefully that was inadvertent.
    However on to your comments. First you are criticizing the temporary shelters for what they are not. They do not claim to help homeless people in the sense of providing programmes and the like. They are designed simply to provide a place for the most difficult to house with a warm and dry place to go so they do not freeze to death or otherwise harm themselves. You may recall the woman who burned to death a few years ago trying to light candles to keep herself warm. They are moreover only in place over the winter. The facts about them simply do not support your assertion of out of sight, out of mind. Even if that were true the nimbyite who penned the disgusting newsletter certainly did not see them as out of mind.
    You criticize the city for not involving the neighbourhood. That may be a fair criticism but if you publicize it, you will almost certainly get the vitriolic screed from the nimbyite produced above. These people are not open to a reasoned discussion. Moreover the hope is that they will not be problems and usually there are not if certain rules are followed including prohibiting loitering out front.
    If there are problems then obviously go see the shelter staff or call the police. What many people reacted to was the suggestion that if someone was smoking with 5 meters of the doorway, you call 911. No, you do not! That is not an emergency and puts someone with a real incident happening in danger. The person suggesting that is trying to create incidents and police involvement.
    Of course, all of this somehow seems to suggest that the homeless are not in Yaletown or the West End or elsewhere. They most assuredly are. All the shelters are doing is providing a place for them to sleep that is not in the open or someone’s doorway. In most cases, the actual impact on the neighbourhood will be that experienced by Alexis at #37 or Dan Cooper at #44.
    As for reopening Riverview, it was a complete hell on earth where patients were mostly kept heavily medicated and locked up and subject to abuse by the people who worked there. For insects like brilliant not, since these people are “leeches”, it does not matter. For the vast majority of human beings, the conditions were an unacceptable travesty. The unfortunate thing is that when they did close Riverview, the smaller neighbourhood facilities did not happen. In many cases, thsi occurred because of even less vitriolic nimbyism displayed by the writer of the disgusting screed. I lived two doors from a home for mentally ill people in Upper Kitsilano for many years and they were completely peaceful and unobtrusive neighbours. Yet, when they tried to build a larger facility in Dunbar, the Dunbar nimbyites were let loose. Thankfully, they were not successful.
    It is difficult to commit someone against their will. Under the Mental Health Act, two doctors must certify that the individual meets the criteria for committal. Most doctors including psychiatrists do not easily do so, and strive to find the right balance between an individual’s civil liberties and protection of the individual and those around them. We often do not find the right balance for all sorts of reason. Even when someone realizes they are potentially a danger and try to check themselves in, they are sent on their way. Think of the young men who tried to check himself into St. Paul’s a few weeks ago, was turned away and attacked three women shortly after.
    In many cases, we try not to see mental illness and it (rarely) manifests itself as it did in Newtown last week.
    There is no question but that we do not provide enough services for the mentally ill and certainly not enough for those with dual (at least) diagnoses of mental illness and drug addiction. Just think what $15 million now being spent on Liberal party ads posing as Government announcements would do. But even that would be a drop in the bucket.
    And where would be do it. As the nimbyite makes clear, even a temporary HEAT shelter brings out a vitriolic outburst.
    No, it’s not self righteous moral indignation making us feel good; it’s trying to grapply with a difficult issue. And at its most basic level, extending a bit of humanity so people have a warm place to sleep. If that is self righteous moral indignation, I happily plead guilty.

  • teririch

    Let’s face it, at some point everyone has their episode of “NIBYISM”.

    There was an interesting program last night discussing the de-institutionalization of America (it the wake fo the recent tadgedy)- the shutting down of mental institutes under the misguided idea that people with mental illness regardless of how severe, were better off in the community. And it was agreed by the various doctors on the panel along with parents and families of people that were trying to cope with individuals with mental illness that is was a huge mistake.

    Now we have groups/activists within long-term shelters like Yukon House stating it is an individuals right not to take their medication if they don’t want to.

    What do you think the outcome is going to be in the grand scheme of things? More people on the streets, more violence, more addiction as the mentally ill are easy prey for drug dealers.

    It is always interesting when people blame the ‘government’ for not doing enought to protect the mentally ill, to take a hold and run their day to day lives, yet when the government does step in, you can be certain there will be some self interest group saying it is not the government’s right to do so.

    So pick a side people – because what has become the ‘norm’ is not working. It is not working for the metnally ill or the drug addicted.

    With that….I am off to play secret Santa to 4 persons from the Homelesspartners.com website.

    Cheers all!

  • Silly Season

    @Waltyss,

    What has me lamenting most, in this forum, is the language of confrontation between “people of good faith” as you have called them.

    While your tone is at least respectful in this last post, slyly suggesting that anyone is calling anyone “leeches’ is disingenuous at best and more of the usual “j’accuse’ crap, at worst. Can’t we have a discussion without inference and trying to make someone who may not agree with your take, ‘the bad guy?’. Why do I get the feeling that you are all too well versed in the black art of political communications manipulation?

    While we all revel in the parry and thrust of “my side vs. your side” the whole of the community suffers. I like politics (as an amusement) as much as the next person. But I am tired of rhetoric from people from all sides dismissing “others’. It gets us nowhere. And it divides—as it apparently engineered to do, according to social psychologists.

    The Yaletown neighbourhood people are dismissed by some as whack jobs, NIMBY’S, etc. I saw a lot of good questions in that letter. We may not like the tone. I put it to you that people who do not get answers, will operate on fears due to lack of information.

    Now let me answer your points. We can agree on at least one thing: temporary shelters are not an answer. I get frustrated seeing these come online each winter. Yes, shelter is needed—AND what good is it without proper operational and support services—including liasion with the neighbourhood? Temporary shelters may be a short term answer—but not without those things that make them at least PERCEIVED as well run and safe—both for the homeless who must share them and the area residents.

    Now, is there a city policy around the running of shelters? Or is it more of an ad hoc situation, in choosing and opening them?

    If it is the former, I would love to read that information. And if policy (and regaltions, too, hopefully) exist, shouldn’t that be advertised to citizens so at least some of their concerns can be alleviated? Why are the cops the only ones who are giving info out–and that only after the residents contact them?

    You say that the city would only get more pushback from residents if the location of a temporary shelter were known beforehand. I disagree about your assessment that there are no reasonable neighbours.

    I too live and have lived in neighbourhoods where housing and services for the homeless are available. But they do seem to be facilities that have established—less transient facilities, if you will. I do know of one case where outreach to the greater community is ongoing–and it works the other way, too. This is what makes for better neighbours, better neighbourhoods and greater understanding.

    I am not saying that neighbours objections are enough to deny facilities– that would make living in this city more impossible—nothing would get done! But they need to be heard. To do otherwise is to foment suspicion and foster misunderstandings. I think the Dunbar situation is a good example of what went RIGHT. I know that there was a real hew and cry 5 or 10 years ago. But I know that over the years, people in the neighbourhood came to accept the concept. I have friends that live right around the corner and at the time the facility was under construction, I think that objections had been largely overcome. Yes, that took staff time. So what? that’s what staff should do! And counsellors, too—though it may mean some expenditure of their political capital. But the fact was that it was planned as a permanent facility—it didn’t just pop up anywhere. And it came with patience and outreach and perserverence.

    I don’t disagree about your statement about the old Riverview. They were warehousing people. And, yes, our laws make it difficult if not impossible to get people to take their meds. And yes, doctors and health care workers do make horrible mistakes in assessment.

    So that’s why we need to relook at the protocols around treatment for the mentally ill homeless. I would look at developing another model for mental health services that brings social workers, psychologista and health care providers closer together to work more collegially to help in those assessments. As for the current system that can’t ‘force’ people to take meds or get help…well, if we can get them into shelters regardless of their objections—because they may NOT be in the best shape to decide what’s best for their physical well being during bad weather, we should be able to have staff on hand there to help guide them to meds or to other care for their mental well being.

    There’s a few ideas, fwiw. And that makes me feel better than just saying “here’s some shelter”– and know that come the warmer weather, the same mental health system that doesn’t work now will work any better once people are back on the street.

    So, Waltyss, why don’t you and I (and others here who may be interested) get together and put it to the city and province to get busy and try something new in their approaches? :-)

  • teririch

    @Silly Season:

    I agree with your post(s). HEAT shelters offer nothing more than a place to hang out during the bad weather but they are hardly a long term yet costly solution.

    What happened to the mental health advocate Gregor Roberston promised back in 2008 – where did the allocated dollars end up going to?

    And I may be mistaken, but didn’t the ‘mental health’ advocated get re-visited this last campaign?

  • waltyss

    @Silly Season #66. You seem to suggest that calling homeless mentally ill people “leeches” on my part was a “sly suggestion”. It was not. brilliant not, ever looking to see how much lower s/he/it can descend, called them exactly that in post #42. Unfortunately, one doesn’t have to make “sly suggestions” or engage in “political communication manipulation” on this site (or most web sites for that mater). The usual suspects will soon oblige.
    The rest of your post will take a bit longer to respond and i will do so later.

  • Silly Season

    #waltyss. #67 Indeed, I missed that ref.

    There is absolutely no need for that language.

  • Silly Season
  • brilliant

    I’m sure the three elderly women severely beaten by a crazy man in his underwear are overjoyed at the policy to let the mentally ill run loose in the community.

  • teririch

    @waltyss #71

    No where in brillant’s #70 post did he mention the man as being homeless.

    I would suggest that he is referencing the lack of facilities for the mentally ill and the ability to have them committed if necessary.

    To suggest brilliant needs ‘locking up’ is as you put it – ‘spewing of venomous nonsense’.

  • waltyss

    @terrich. Nice try. First, if you read my post, I am not seriously suggesting that brilliant not be locked up, tempting as that is.
    If you read all of brilliant not’s venomous nonsense, you could not reasonably conclude that s/he/it was bemoaning the lack of facilities for the mentally ill. Rather, s/he/it wants to lock up people s/he/it has termed “leeches” in Riverview type facilities and couldn’t care less whether they are abused or mistreated in those dungeons because, according to her/him/it, that is better than a flea infested room on the DTES. If that is what you want to call “referencing the lack of facilities for the mentally ill”, go for it.

  • Stephanie

    @brilliant “Letting the mentally ill run loose”? They’re not dogs. What a contemptible excuse for a person you are.

  • brilliant

    @Stephanie 73-why don’t you and waltsyss take your bleeding heart blather to the bedsides of the three women viciously attacked by thst madman? I assume they’re still in hospital though the media drops stories that conflict with the PC narrative faster than a hot potato.

    Better yet, go console the mentally ill beggars soaking in the rain on every downtown street with your champagne socialist belief that they are so much better off there than in an institution.

  • Andrew Browne

    I don’t agree with the methods these residents have used to voice their complaint – they come off as having no humanity at all. I might wish that we have adequate addiction treatment options, or that people might change their habits and become free of addiction, or that we had better mental health care, but I don’t expect them to die in the cold for want of shelter beds! The need for these shelters during extreme weather is simply beyond question in our civilized society.

    I DO find it interesting that two of the shelters are in the Yaletown area, and agree with previous comments that we seem to have an interesting dynamic where any positive change in the DTES (e.g. housing diversity – bringing in more market housing and a diversity of residents) is met with widespread protest, but providing more housing diversity in Yaletown is expected (notwithstanding these few hateful campaigners). Bit of a double standard at play?

    I’d really like to see services for the disadvantaged more equitably distributed throughout the City so that we are not forcing those who need these services to live in and around the DTES. It should be possible for someone to remove themselves from the influences of the DTES and still access services, if that is their choice.

  • Stephanie

    No question that the mental health system is broken. The man who attacked those women should have received help when he asked for it, and if necessary should have been detained as an involuntary psychiatric inpatient under the Mental Health Act.

    None of this makes it even remotely acceptable to characterize mentally ill people as pack animals allowed to run riot in the city.

    Rapid deinstitutionalization without proper implementation of the community integration model has led to terrible consequences for the vulnerable mentally ill. Unfortunately, Riverview is real estate and the province cares much more about that than about the people it used to house. It’s also unfortunate that people are so quick to overlook the horrors that took place and still take place in psychiatric institutions. Deinstitutionalization happened for a lot of legitimate reasons.

    So you’ll forgive me for being skeptical of the demands for reinstitutionalization, ostensibly made out of deep concern for the vulnerable mentally ill, that are bracketed with complaints about how unsightly they are, and how lazy they are, and how terrible they are for the neighbourhood.

    tl;dr Pull the other one, Brilliant; it’s got bells on.

  • Silly Season

    It’s too bad this thread has devolved into something unpleasant. There are several interesting ideas, and opinions.

    Ah, well. I am going to visit the shelter and see what’s happening there. Will report back in, probably post Christmas.

    Hope everyone has a lovely holiday time. Hold your children tight…

  • waltyss

    Best retort to the unfortunate NIMBYites of Yaletown was Stephen Quinn’s column in today (Saturday’s) Globe and Mail. http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/british-columbia/three-non-cheers-for-a-non-letter-that-was-never-not-unwritten/article6669436/
    If you can’t get through the firewall, well you can purchase the paper. It will still be on the stands on Saturday.

  • spartikus

    Best retort to the unfortunate NIMBYites of Yaletown was Stephen Quinn’s column in today (Saturday’s) Globe and Mail.

    That is some first class snark.

  • Bill Lee

    Yes, the usual juvenile humour and non-comment from Mr. Stephen Quinn.
    And he is bringing his gags-in-everything to CBC Twitter and the morning and noon local CBC radio shows, unfortunately during Xmas week inflicted on the entire province.

    That H.E.A.T. shelter is at 2610 Victoria Drive, there the City had its former Public Health Unit (East side), now moved off to a concrete tower on Broadway near Commercial.

    One side is moderately busy Victoria Drive, the First Christian Reform (Dutch) Church on the south and the “can-t sleep, we will makemore noise” of the Lougheed Highway Skytrain line called Millenium.
    This triangle of land was never meant to be lived in, only worked in and as a base for the public health nurses in the area.

    “Fears about the availability of shelter space for Vancouver’s homeless population persist, as the number of people living on the street doubled in 2012 compared with 2011.

    The homeless are also facing fewer temporary shelter beds, with the reduction to 60 spaces from a 2011 peak of 240 at the low-barrier First United Church shelter earlier this year.” [ more

    http://www.vancouversun.com/news/Reduction+Vancouver+shelter+beds+puts+homeless+risk+winter+weather+advocacy+group+says/7750503/story.html ]

    Note the barren courtyard in the middle from the Bing/Gurgle aerial photos.
    I wonder if the night-time heating is adequate.
    Will Mr. Quinn invite some in to his house a few blocks north?

  • Don D

    It’s discouraging that so few posts rise to the intellectual and moral level of Silly Season’s.

  • Neil

    I live across the street from this “temporary” vagrant housing and I’m pretty sure I live in socialist panacea around here. The world seems on its head but I have to think through it to understand things a little more clearly. I was hoping maybe you folks who are making comments could help me understand this better.

    I moved here from the suburbs, which clearly have not progressed and evolved as much as Gregor Robertson’s Vancouver has (he’s such a nice young man). However I’d like to have friends in from the suburbs, but the parking is astronomical and each day it seems there are more and more meter maids handing out tickets right until 10 pm. At the same time there are more and more neighbourhood businesses shutting down and ever increasing “For Lease” signs. Does anyone think this is related?

    Mind you its tough for friends to even get downtown as the roads are clogged with traffic jams spewing exhaust into the air, because the roads were narrowed to make room for the empty bike lanes. Social engineering like the bike lanes is a good thing because what I’ve learned listening and reading pop media in Vancouver is that cars are bad. It’s clear that they are, just look at them all packed into ever narrowing streets spewing whatever it is that they spew. It looks so gross. Then again, I can also understand why cyclists don’t use the bike lanes because as a cyclist who rides over 300 km/ week in traffic I know that its cold, raining and it generally sucks out there riding 8 months of the year. I also know that those bike lanes are dangerous as hell and more dangerous than riding in traffic! The dividers are just used as J-walking platforms and nobody looks to see if a bike is whispering along there at 30 km/h. On the topic of J-walking, is it legal now? Because people do it everywhere here now and seem to feel entitled to do so whenever it pleases them or is convenient for them – regardless of the traffic. It’s starting to look like a third world country out there with people doing whatever the hell they want, but maybe that is the point, more freedom for everybody. I don’t see tickets being handed out for that, that’s why I ask.

    However I do know that drugs are still illegal, but the police don’t seem to mind them being sold by vagrants on the street outside the window of their Police Station on Granville. I’ve watched several entrepreneurial vagrant drug dealers ply their trade right there. Looks like a good safe spot and good for them, the city needs more vagrant entrepreneurs. As long as they don’t get high on their own supply, maybe selling drugs to other vagrants will get them off the street? Speaking of good business, the police don’t ever walk around or seem suspicious of vagrants with shopping carts that have flat screen TV’s and computers in them. I guess its policy now to allow more enterprise in the city, and help vagrants economically better themselves. That said, there are plenty official-looking parking meter maids out there taxing the taxpayer who parks his car on the street in order to legally buy something at a neighbourhood store and support businesses which provide me with services in my neighbourhood. But I guess that makes sense right? Because they drive cars (cars are “bad” right?) and they have the money. The vagrants don’t have any money, and everyone knows you can’t get blood from a stone. They are smart up there in city hall.

    Speaking of vagrants, and this topic is about that particular lifestyle choice, I guess its also not illegal to bully customers of bank machines and convenience stores for free money anymore either. It is a good thing because shaking down people who choose to work ensures vagrants get money, and with access to free money like that maybe they won’t be vagrants anymore.

    I’m starting to get it now. So if we make it easier to be a vagrant in the city, by giving them free food, free shelter, free money, and allowing them to break the law, then maybe there will be fewer of them!

    That must be the “vision” that Gregor Robertson has. He’s such a bright young man; he’ll get my vote again next time.

    Neil
    PS – One question, when I was at Whistler last summer we were told never, ever to feed the bears by the conservation officer. She said it was because the bears then become dependant on others for food and no longer forages on their own. A fed bear is a dead bear they said. They were quite sincere about it and everything, but that can’t be right, can it? Because if that is true then…..