Homeless numbers climb under Robertson's watch - 12% since '08

Post by Mike Klassen in


Homeless is homeless, no matter how you label it

The Vancouver Mayor's office is quickly trying to spin the numbers from the recent homeless count, which clearly indicate that homelessness has spiked up a significant 12% since 2008, or approximately 6% per year with no signs of slowing down. A release sent out earlier and quickly posted by Vision-friendly reporters tries to emphasize the number of people within shelters, compared to people who are "street homeless".

Using a third party definition provided by the Parliamentary Research Branch of the Canadian federal government, homelessness is defined as follows:

the term "homeless" exclusively to describe people living on the street or in emergency shelters

As government studies try to be thorough, they allow for some alternate definitions of homelessness as follows:

a "homeless" person is not only someone without a domicile who lives on the street or in a shelter, but can equally be someone without access to shelter meeting the basic criteria considered essential for health and human and social development


A person with no fixed address, stable, safe and healthy housing for the next 60 days, an extremely low income, adversely discriminated against in access to services, with problems of mental health, alcohol and drug abuse or social disorganization, and not a member of any stable group

Nowhere is a distinction made between "sheltered" homeless people and "street" homeless people, as the Mayor and City Manager Penny Ballem have done today. Given that this is the number one issue that Mayor Gregor Robertson campaigned on, and his promise is to rid the city of homelessness by 2015, increasing the homeless roles by about 180 does not represent positive change.

Of course, homelessness is a whipping tool regularly used by critics. For months during his administration Mayor Sam Sullivan was pilloried over issues around housing and homelessness. TheTyee online magazine liked to dish out criticism regularly by attacking Sullivan for his so-called lack of progress on homelessness and housing, even after his administration secured funding for 3800 units of social and supportive housing from Victoria. By comparison, TheTyee's report from today mirrors the message from City Hall, and redirects criticism at the provincial government.

Critics even raised the spectre of homelessness "tripling" by the beginning of the 2010 Olympic Games because so many people would be pushed onto the street by developers. So much for that theory, and the credibility of people like David Eby who promoted it.

While temporary shelters have improved the optics around the issue of homelessness in Vancouver (and undoubtedly have made many people more comfortable during the wet winter months) it does not move us closer to providing the housing and treatment they need. Vision Vancouver's abandonment of the Four Pillars program, coupled with their emphasis on temporary over permanent housing, is a possible cause for this increase in overall homelessness.

It's even more sad when some try to equate hiding homeless away in shelters as solving the "visible" problem of our homeless. This quote from Frances Bula, for example, astounds me:

We’ve forgotten a little what it’s like to be walking past people sleeping under pieces of cardboard or next to their shopping carts or in grubby sleeping bags sheltered from the rain by a small overhang. It’s not a pretty sight and it doesn’t make any of us feel good about our city or ourselves.

By moving someone from a cardboard box to an empty pew or a mat in a warehouse, how are we supposed to "feel good about ourselves?" Are you saying just because we can no longer see the problem that it no longer exists?

While Mayor Robertson pads his resumé by claiming that he brought in provincial funding when he did nothing of the sort, he's yet to make his mark in a substantive way on this file. And if you're expecting homelessness to be reduced to nil by this Mayor within five years, then I've got a bridge you'd might like to buy for cheap.

- post by Mike


"While Mayor Robertson pads his resumé by claiming that he brought in provincial funding when he did nothing of the sort, he's yet to make his mark in a substantive way on this file."

Worse than that, The Juice King voted against those provincial government initiatives as a member of the NDP.

This has been a bad week for Robertson and it's only Thursday. I wonder what all the homeless people think of him spending 34k on an olympic party for staff? Robertson and his pie in the sky election promises to end homelessness are now seen for what they are. A bunch of lies from a politician trying to get our votes.

Check this out. The CBC bought Gregor's spin on homelessness. I guess they really are easy. Here is the headline they just posted online "Homeless on Vancouver's streets drops 47 per cent".

I wonder if the NPA tried to get away with this kind of spin what the CBC would have done? I think the headline would have been "Homelessness dramatically increases under NPA".

Here is the link if you want to read for yourself:


Yes It appears the homeless numbers have risen under Gregor Robertson.

Could it be His spin doctor Financier Joel and the Pivot Legal society attempted to manipulated the numbers by bussing in the red tent city. Then doing an unusual homeless recount after many of the tenters had gone back to their comfy homes.

The whole production was a Pretty Snazy Olympic sized PR stunt.

Grooming Gregor for the next phase Will he go Liberal or NDP. Or are the plans to start a new provincial party ..... The Hollyhock Visionless party.

To see the light... just turn the switch? No Hollytalk required.

seriously unbeleivable. are any of you actually suggesting that sleeping in a doorway or alley is the same as sleeping in a shelter? I know I'd rather sleep on a pew instead of on and under cardboard boxes on the pavement.

I would think it's obvious that there will be a series of steps to ending homelessness and temporary shelters are one of those steps.

and Mike, I assume you are referring to the last two paragraphs of Paulson's post on The Hook (the blogging arm of The Tyee) when you say the Tyee "redirects criticism at the provincial government."

Paulson writes:
"The Province has indicated that it will cease funding operations of seven of those new shelters on April 30.

"Overnight, these closures will add approximately 500 people to those sleeping on the streets of Vancouver," Ballem's memo stated."

That doesn't sound like criticism to me, it sounds like stating facts.

What does it matter? The average house price in Vancouver is $1 million now! Everyone's a millionaire! Yeah!


It seems to me that people are saying that if you live in a seasonal shelter, you are still homeless. While you were able to survive the bitter cold and unshakable wet of our winter, you are no better off than when you first got a HEAT bed.

That's the problem here. Shelters are not a solution to homelessness. The money is gone now and what do the people who lived in these shelters have to show for it?

Every single person in a HEAT shelter is going to be homeless come April 30. That's not a 47% reduction in homelessness, that's the same problem we started with (and a whole lot of spin quite frankly).

It's safe to say that no citizen on this blog or in this city wants people to have to sleep on the streets.

My dad always told me "Never make a promise you can't keep."

BS, Gregor made a promise and throwing blame around or nitpicking over the quality of different types of homelessness does not change his obligation to keep it. He's now got less than five years to make good and if a good - metaphorical - kicking stirs him into action then let's give it to him.

I saw the Mayor on news tonight saying what we really need is long term solutions like supportive housing. He just raided the supportive housing fund (Street to Home) to pay for these shelters! What is the end result of his decision - more homeless, no money left for supportive housing and another fight between two levels of government. It just like the last COPE/Vision crew all over again.

Do we all just naively believe whatever stats the Mayor spins at us? Homeless counts done by whom? "Come May, 500 p will be back on street" - what about the 100+ folk who'll be housed at old Bosman's on Howe project opening that very month?

What residency requirements exist in shelters anyhow? Or shall we forever house ALL who come here the world over? Small wonder the homeless number keeps increasing, d'oh. Build it and they will come.

they are drawn to Vancouver's easy touch living where so many do-gooders provide so much free stuff that life is a party . . .

Gregor . . ."if you build it, they will come"

They did and they will continue to come as long as we keep the free stuff rolling along.

Time for tough love, love for sure but demand something back for free food, free housing, free whatever.

Sweep streets, paint over grafitti, work the kitchens . . . SOMETHING.

Priorities, priorities. The proposed $20,000 chicken shelter is a Vision"less" priority.

How disgusting. Homelessness is going up in Vancouver and the mayor is proposing a homeless shelter for freaking chickens. Has Vancouver gone completely mad!!! People first, chickens second. In a few weeks 500 people are going to be on the street because the homeless shelters are closing. Yet Robertson is opening up a chicken shelter. Yeeesh.

While the prices for houses in Vancouver reaches the million dollar mark, the number of homeless grows exponentially.
People, you realize that unless you cash in now, while you can and move back to the motherland,live on a farm nurturing chicken all you'll be able to afford two decades from now is going to be a very expensive funeral procession. You are sitting on million bucks aren't you?

Payme later,
You are an i***t and your mayor is your leader.

They already are... but the organizations that run them aren't effective. The work gets done by the marginalized at minimum wage, while the unionized organizations charge much more for the Administration costs. You need to inform yourself, before slagging the poor.

BC's Homelessness is just a symptom of the problem.

Some of Gregors financiers openly fund campaigns to shut down sustainable economies in Forestry, Aquaculture, mining ect.

People without jobs or sustainable incomes eventually become the homeless we see on the streets of Vancouver.

Gregors puffed up approach to ending homelessness can never be acheived, by simply hiding them in shelters. A shelter isn't a home or a sustaniable economy.

Gregors inaction and lack of vision for a sustainable solution will lead to more homeless dying on the streets.

"Jobs for the dead" is not a solution.

"Jobs for the living" is.

Mayor Robertson came into office with the central plank of his platform a bedrock promise to end homelessness by 2015. Where is his plan?

So far, his administration has spent limited city funds on temporary shelters that warehouse the poor and hide them out of sight, but do nothing to address the central problem. This is a heartless shell game with real people being shuffled around.

Under the previous NPA administration, Mayor Sam Sullivan and council undertook the largest housing initiative in the city's history, providing property and land and securing financing for somewhere between 2400 and 3200 units of socially assisted housing. That was a real plan with real results.

Mayor Robertson has rushed to take credit for the housing initiated by the NPA, but his term in office is half over and he has still not produced a comprehensive plan to match his promise to end homelessness. And the problem has doubled on his watch.

Temporary shelters are an emergency measure absolutely necessary to save lives during harsh winters, but permanent housing is the only real and lasting solution.

Where's the plan?

funny how no one asked Gregor about the pesky details of exactly HOW he was going to solve homelessness. Did he have a secret plan that no other city in the world has? He could have just had the police pick up every homeless person and drop them on the other side of Boundary Road or over the Oak street bridge - why did no one ask HOW? And now his way of solving the problem is to change the way we count the homeless (ie IGNORE the accepted definition because that would show a 12% increase!) All he had to do was take some funding away from long term housing initiatives and give it to his failed emergency shelters.
Folks - the VISION party is all about the ILLUSION of doing something. As long as they appear to be concerned the job is done. Take your backyard chickens - does it really help food security as the loony tunes Kerry Jang would have you believe? NO - but it LOOKS like they are doing something and that is all that matters.
Next election folks - ask some questions before you vote!

The Thought of The Day

"Clairvoyant Backstabbing = Vancouver Vision’s Modus Operandi”


There is no question in my mind that the year 2015, as the target year to end homelessness, was not an accident. Think about it. Was that year picked out of thin air? I think not!

Vancouver Vision is a Party made out of double faced, ship jumper, backstabbing members. Remember COPE? Deceiving, lying and betraying are their Modus Operandi.

And as any respectable, true apparatchiks, they compile their list of "lies and answers" ahead of time, before, during and after the election.

This is what I think they brainstormed behind closed doors... IF we can sucker the Vancouverites (yeah, fat chance with that) into a second term in office (2011-2014), a perfect deadline to “end homelessness” would be right after the end of the second term ...(2015). On the other hand, IF they get onto our racket by the end of the second term, so be it, we'll leave the "our legacy" for the next administration.


We live in Vancouver and this keeps us busy.

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