Kerry Jang describes Vision housing strategy in revealing video

Post by Daniel Fontaine in


Jang & Reimer discuss their housing strategy with DTES activists – see video

In the new world of social media, almost anybody can have their words captured on video and placed on YouTube for the whole world to see. Sometimes the person doesn't even realize they're being recorded, while other times the camera is in plain view.

In the case of Vision Vancouver Councillor Kerry Jang, I happened to stumble across an obscure video taken of  him at a meeting with a bunch of Downtown Eastside housing activists. When I first saw the video it had only six views. So as you can imagine, it hasn't garnered a lot of interest. What the video does provide us however is a unique insight into the backroom world of how Vision Vancouver's politicians, Downtown Eastside social activists as well as developers are tightly intertwined.

It you click above, you will find Jang sitting at a table in front of a green chalkboard with his council colleague Andrea Reimer as well as housing activist Jean Swanson. They are discussing housing strategy and tactics when Jang provides the activists with praise for all their hard work. He also sheds new revelations regarding his private discussions with BC Housing Minister Rich Coleman.

Jang can clearly be heard providing kudos to the group whom he believes is the real reason why Coleman opened up his wallet and provided millions to the city for temporary housing. Here is what Jang told the activists:

I think I give you guys, CCAP (Carnegie Community Action Project), credit for the Howe St. where you guys managed to help us with our negotiations with the Province. By pushing when we asked you to push and back off when we asked you to back off, I think that really made a big difference. Because it kept things cool so that when we were negotiating with Minister Coleman and staff we had that relationship that was trusting. But then it's nice every so often to have you guys poke. It was nice for us to be able to say to Wendy [Pederson] and Jean [Swanson] could you go and poke now. Or this is the time to do something, but back off. Or talk to your friends and back off right now. Cause that really made a big difference for us. And I think that's why we got this much money (inaudible).

Jang then reveals Vision's government relations strategy when it comes to dealing with the Province of BC. He says he goes to Victoria and "whines", "yells" and "screams" his way to success. I don't know about you, but if someone walked into my office and acted that way, I'd probably be calling the police, not handing them a cheque.

He's lucky the Minister is a patient man who clearly has his heart in the right place. Here's what Jang said (this clip part of longer video):

In terms of what we do with senior government (inaudible)...literally go, we (cry?? inaudible), whine, yell, scream. I sat in a room with Minister Coleman the other day saying well...shelters are only part of it but we need the rest. He understands that. He actually acknowledged it. He acknowledged it publicly yesterday...the claim is they are working on it.

Again this is a budget shortfall and that's always been the case. Whatever they spend the money on, take it up with them. It might be the Olympics, it might be this it might be that. But certainly from the City's perspective we've invested massively in land and in doing the permitting for free and getting the capital costs started.

As for whether a conversation with Councillor Jang can be considered confidential...well he says:

Minister Coleman said to us in our private meeting the other day. I can share this with you. He said one thing I forgot to mention in the press release was that these people aren't going to the emergency room anymore. If you gave me 25 cents of dollars of those savings I could pay for more social housing in Vancouver. So he's aware. And that's part of my strategy personally, I'm working on showing savings in health care and then can we divert that money from health care to social housing.

At least we now know that Vision's housing strategy is to analyze the BC Health Ministry budget to determine how much savings can be diverted away from hip and knee surgeries and into Vancouver's social housing. Explain that to the people living in area code 250.

If you ever wondered just how personally involved Vision councillors are when it comes to rolling up their sleeves and negotiating land deals with individual developers, listen closely to what Jang tells tells the activists.

He reveals that not only is he and Councillor Raymond Louie negotiating deals with developers, they are specifically focusing on those of Chinese descent:

Jang says:

To your comments (inaudible) about how this will pay for itself. These are the types of negotiations Raymond Louie and I are going to some of these developers. They are part of the Chinese community. So we have a different angle we can talk to these guys. So I talk to Drew Kim, I talked to Robert Fung the other day...Terry Hui. Talking about alternative models. To get this stuff paid for beside just building market housing. They are open to the ideas but we have to educate them a bit. But we are actively working with it. Especially now that they aren't able to build. They are willing to look at other things. We are jumping on that opportunity. And as you know we have put together a number of opportunities for them. STIR, short term incentives for rentals and things like that. To help them see our way. Including laneway housing just the other day, I mean just to release some stock.

Probably the funniest line Jang delivered to the group (not in the clip above) was when he told the activists "no sense hammering us as we've already given the land." Clearly he wants the group to hammer the Province instead.

I find it interesting how when Vision was in opposition they had no problem "hammering" the previous NPA record on housing. This despite the fact the NPA had secured more new funding for permanent housing than any other civic government in history. This housing record did nothing to discourage activists like Swanson and Pederson from regularly firing off attacks against the NPA. In fact, a group of unknown activists even hung a councillor in effigy on the front lawn of City Hall for the NPA's "lack of progress" on the housing file.

As we've previously written, Robertson and Vision have secured no new funds for permanent long-term housing since getting elected in 2008. Rather, they've chosen to focus mainly on getting new money for short-term temporary shelters instead.

After seeing this video, it's not hard to understand why Vision have been given a free ride from the traditionally outspoken housing advocates who have long argued for permanent housing over temporary shelters. It's amazing what a change in administration can do to your "activist" roots.

- Post by Daniel


The do make it sound like it's a game they are playing don't they.

If a clip like this leaked from the government where it showed how the government was manipulating its dealings with this group you wouldn't hear the end of it.

Keep in mind when you hear someone refer to being a Community Activist, Community Organizer or just a plain Activist it's code for an S-Disturber.

Interesting.....however, it is a shame that local politicians couldn't always tell the housing activists when to poke and when not to poke.

I'm thinking of May 15, 2010 when the Olympic Village sales program was launched with a giant Open House. If you go on line you'll find some more videos of housing activists...

"Protest marred Olympic Village Open House as Police Crackdown " and "Protest at Olympic Village Open House Got Loud on May 15."

At the time, I felt very badly for the City, Malleks and Rennie, since I viewed this protest as yet another nail in the coffin of the Olympic Village. After all, many potential homebuyers do not want to buy into a community that may often be the subject of activists' protests.

Terry Hui knows this first hand, since the CCAP group shut down his Hastings Street Condominium project through protests. I also know about this since SFU students threatened to protest our highly publicized 'ground-breaking' for the UniverCity community until we learned about it and managed to diffuse it.)

While we haven't spoken very much about the May 15 protest, we should not forget it, since it was yet another in the chain of events that ultimately led to the current situation. Furthermore, the next Olympic Village Sales Program launch will be February 12, 2011. I just hope Kerry and Andrea can tell their friends at CCAP and other activists that they've done enough poking. It's now time to let the city get on with its sales program and recover as much money as it can from the sale of these units. After all, the greater the losses from the Olympic Village, the less money that the city will have to put into future Social Housing.

What a shocking video. I'll never be able to look at a social housing activist protest in the same way again. Clearly vision and these activists are in bed together. If I were minister Coleman, I'd be steaming over my morning coffee after I watched this. Jang truly does have foot in mouth disease doesn't he.

Jng and Louie negotiating with developers for upcoming projects? Isn't that normally the job of planning staff? Are councillors really sitting down with chinese developers and negotiating land deals?

What happens when these projects come to council for approval and public hearing? Are the councillors not conflicted having negotiated the original deal? this is all sounding a little too cozy.

Jang is a real handful. First he mocks a former staffer and implies he may have left work due to stress. Now we see him in the backroom revealing he's pulling the poverty industry strings. What next? What an embarrassment for Vision Vancouver.

Is Kim a Chinese name? I thought he was Korean?

In the video Jang also says it takes $2000 a month per person to put them in a shelter. I think the city should be looking into why organizations like Raincity are charging so much to put people into dormitory style mat sleeping arrangements. Seems like for $2000 a month you could rent quite nicely on the open market and give them some nice Coal Harbour condos with a view!

Would this mean that the proposed housing activist event proposed for February 2011 will be canceled due to conflict of interest, or will Jang and Reimer decide the Province still needs a little poking...

I would think this video can only work against the City in court. These people don't get it...


PHS (Portland Housing Society) who runs the temporary shelters is unionized. It does not cost a lot to feed people everyday - they budget about $2.00 per person and many times food is donated fom catering gigs, restaurants, grocery stores, etc.

I would guess that most of the money goes to staffing.

On another note: Glad to see that preference is being given to Chinese developers......smacks of racism.

I think we are being a little naive. 'Poking' goes on all the time at all levels of government in all areas of service.

absolutely correct Max... the union administration wages are what cost...

a great percentage of the food donated is past best due way of disposing of a problem.

Um, I do not know much about the logistics of the funding for the housing programs, but I will say that anytime a government is willing to not only engage civil society, but actually work with ALL PARTIES EQUALLY towards a common goal it is a good thing. If epistemic communities, activists, and NGOs are withheld from policy development outside of just agenda setting then their concerns are unlikely to be appeased until the release of the policy instrument, in which case it is often too late to go back and adjust the instrument choice and setting in a way that is more reflective of the objectives and goals that were proposed when the agenda was set. A lack of transparancy does not make sense. A lack of cooperation does not make sense. Stating that the tactics of one municipal gov't undermine other municipalities is a straw-man argument because there is no reason that all municipalities should not foster open engagement with their communities to acheive the goals of the populous. As such, the transparancy of political tactics is also essential. My personal jury is out as to the noted engagement of business from only a single-community, however if offers were tendered equally across all communities then one should be able to use their infuence to get what is best for their electorate (typically the sustainable completion of the project at the lowest cost). That said, I think that I will be doing some more digging into this topic as I know so little about it and have become quite curious. Great post for getting my gears going :)

Isn't it a conflict of interest that two Vancouver city councillors be plotting--er, PLANNING--with their political ideological constituency against the interests of ALL Vancouverites?

What, it's OK for ACT or whomever to demomstrate at the O/V (funded by the job-and business-holding taxpayers of Vancouver) as long as they "act" or "back off" against the province when asked?

Doesn't that undermine the social housing aspect of the project completely by making potential real estate investors a little nervous about just what is incurred by moving onto the site? I don't know too many people---besides groups on the DTES--that really want to make a political act out of buying a home.

The O/V, which for the most part is supposed to be comprised of a majority of privately held residences, which will help subsidize the social housing element, should not be used any further by Vision councillors as a continuing payoff to anti-poverty and social housing groups.

In this whole fiasco, and with THIS council continuing to speak out of both sides of it's collective mouth, we can only contemplate that any further "spontaneous demonstrations" by Friends of Gregor (FOG --what an apt acronym, if ever there was one!) will add to the negative perceptions of the whole project, further adding to the O/V's lack of sales and to the additional tax burden that will have to be born by ratepayers.

Is that guy in black T-shirt, Jerry? One looking just like him tried to sell me some weed the other day. I asked him if it was legal and he said it was OK, it was medicinal. I don't know what to say. Can anyone tell me, if I join Vision, may I get some smokes? Just asking. Jerry and Andrea fight for housing! What a lovely duo. Just like Rodeo and Jellyet.

It's that so, Michael?
'It's now time to let the city get on with its sales program and recover as much money as it can from the sale of these units.'
We want the city to recover ALL THE MONEY not AS MUCH AS THEY CAN. The difference should come from the class lawsuit against their fat asses.

For any folks out there who like to know how things REALLY get done in this city right now, consider this video as a kind of mini WikiLeaks primer!

This video reminds me why I can't stand politicians.
Doesn't matter which party they are from.
They play with peoples lives.
We have a serious problem in Vancouver and what is the response: from the feds,the prov's, and the city?
You push, you back off, you scream ,etc,etc.

We've had 30 years of this nonsense. Do we have anybody that can fix it?

goes like this... community group cries to the province - on cue. City goes to province, says 'don't make me go back to YOUR constituents and tell them you say no. On gets louder (please).

Province goes to Feds...'we have YOUR constiuents in an uproar... help me with XYZ'

Constituents go to province/feds say our civic government does not give a rats ass. On cue everyone.

bike lanes, shelters, you name it, that is how it goes.

Theatre, all of it.

If I was with the Millineum group I would start a lawsuit against City of vancouver claiming they interfered with sales. There is evidence here.

When is this video from?

It must be dated. There's a campaign right now against Vision. There's no way they'd be able to get in and talk like that right now.

Jang and Reimer didn't say anything interesting here. They said "we negotiate, we can't protest. Of course you activists can apply pressure, but we can't." No kidding.
Vision councilors are totally out of touch with community groups in the downtown eastside, and probably everywhere else. Notice how uninterested the the people in the video are. The meeting was probably about something else (the Height Review?) and Jang is probably giving them the runaround about shelters or whatever.
That said, both Vision and the NPA are super cosy with developers, making back-room deals like you wouldn't believe; that's where they get most of their money, too, as we all know.

ps. most of the comments above are insane.

If the $2000/person/month is going to staffing, why does it cost $80,000 a month to have 2-3 staff on site? How much are they getting paid?

I'm seriously confused where $80000 a month for 40 mats is going?

Someone is making a huge profit on this, no? Who?

Bobby Kim

Union wages....wages are 20-25 dollars per hr.for shelter workers. Then add on staff that does the administration and payroll etc... It becomes layered.

For example the folks with disabilities that you see picking up trash and needles in BIA areas are paid 8.00 /hour, but the society charges $30.00 to cover administration staff costs....

Andrea is in dire need of going to see a shrink. Oh, look, Kerry is there! However, I am not so sure he could help, he is unable to help himself to say something worth listening to.


I volunteered (free time) at a shelter in the DTES for roughly 2 years. When I say 'volunteered' - i mean an average of at least 3 - 4 times a week.

The shelter was open from 6 - 10 pm. and I can tell you that on an average, we had eight people 0 either paid staff or volunteering.

We did roughly 50 - 150 meals a night, depending. ( 2 - 3 when it was Welfare Wed.)

I would guess for the emergency shelters they would have 20 - 24 people in rotation.

And the average rate for the PHS is $20/hour per person.

Like I said, the hard costs are minimal by comparison to wages, and as people do donate, a lot more than what 'we' are lead to believe - both monetary and by 'product' (ie: clothes, toiletries etc.) A LOT more.
Too much of it ends back on the street, being sold to support an addiction.

The reason I left the shelter and the women it served - politics. They - the participants - were/are being used to futher others agendas.

It is sad. I had the pleasure of crossing paths with many truly nice ladies; saw too many of them die from overdose or at the hands of others. Lisa Arlene Francis was a very nice woman, with a smile that could light up a room and sadly addicted. They pulled her body from the river about 2 years ago now. She left behind 2 children.

So, someone needs to step up to the plate and get a true handle on what is happening in the DTES. Put aside political differences at start looking at the bigger picture.

It's not that there isn't the 'money' following in, what is it now $1M a day and counting - it is the lack of will to change things.


If you want a true giggle, read Andrea's take on how fabulously well Vision is doing as reported in this last week's Georgia Straight. I mean holy crap, I want some of what she is smoking!

Andrea Reimer: Vision Vancouver is working hard to open up city hall

George, your information is incorrect. I have an invoice in front of me.

Litter/needle pick up in BIA areas is primarily being done by Coast Foundation. Workers are paid between $8-10 per hour. The rate is negotiated with each BIA but in most cases I would say it is $10.

Employment expenses (CPP, EI, WCB) and management/admin charges come out to 25% of the billable hours - $2.50 per hour or $12.50/hour total.

That is a far cry from $30.

Actually Sharon,my information is accurate, the employee's used are disability status, and don't pay CPP, UI etc.
If these are deducted they are returned on income tax returns,as their contract usually works out to the 500.00 dollar exemption limit.

Since you are commenting on "behalf of Coast Mental Health" are you confusing your needle pick-up with your Social Enterprise division?

Workers don't want to work beyond the 500.00 limit.

What you conveniently chose not to include is the union layering portion. The administration of these services...Do you do your job Sharon for 8.00-10.00/hour?

My facts are accurate....if you include all costs which is what I spoke to.

My points were directed to the poverty pimp part of the equation, on the backs of the poor and marginalized.

I think we need to be honest here, the actual workers are paid no where near what the administrators are.

Sorry Sharon, one more point, are you surfing the web on your employers time and dime, or would that be the funder's portion of time?

George, yes, the workers are on disability and this is a job re-entry program. Perhaps the interpretation of the invoice is incorrect on my part as to what it covers - (IE and CPP) but for 100% certain the threshold is 25% of billable for amin and employment expenses (WCB) and has been that way for at least 3 years. Before that, there was no management premiums. We have worked with Coast Foundation for 8 years so I am very familiar with the model, how much a worker can earn before they get their disability clawed back and how much I am being billed for all services - including the 'layered admin'.

Perhaps the management costs are being paid by other sources of revenue but they are not showing up on my invoice. As a BIA, I would not pay $30 per hour for litter pickup services- regardless of the social benefits.

George, given that I work a 50+ hour week and I am on salary, and I will surf the net any time I choose, especially when civic issues are of interest to the execution of my job. Ever heard of Google Alerts - saves endless surfing time.

I guess I hit a nerve Sharon, so you surf the net to do your job, does that include a political blog?

What does a political blog have to do with helping the Mentally Ill even if you use Google Alerts I think you just got busted using Funder and employee funds for anything else but helping those you were hired to I originally stated poverty pimps on the backs of the poor, marginalized, and mentally ill.

Your condescending response didn't answer any of my questions.... or did it?

Perhaps the Public that donate funds or your employer is reading this Internet blog and can answer some of those questions for us.

If you are receiving Alerts and reading blogs how much of those 50 hours are really spent working?

Or since you are salary, not hourly then you are management... humm even more interesting.

Sharon my original post that you responded to was dated December 4
your response was Dec.6.

If you get Google Alert would you have not responded on the week end Saturday Dec. 4th, on your dime?

I find this conversation intriguing, and telling.

Actually, your response that I have taken issue with was December 5th. Intriguing?, telling? - about what? Given the level of misinformation in your post, I believe I had every right to respond, on my own time or my employers. How do you know today is not my day off?

As for whatever trolling you are attempting to do about how I am paid, by whom, and what my job description includes is irrelevant to the issue.

Your facts about the Coast Foundation and how billing is conducted is simply wrong - full stop.

Sharon, Dec 5 is a Sunday.... still not company time, and you protest too loudly I'm sorry I hit a nerve. I never mentioned Coast Mental Health that was you.

The article Max and I were referencing was PHS..

I think you need to rethink your statements.. and you go girl read that Internet on the public dime any time you want, but at least now we are aware how much time you spend trolling.

Next time you should think about who pays you before bringing your employer into the public debate.

As I've said from the start you haven't answered the original questions instead you've gotten into A LENGTHY PISSING MATCH with John Q Public...the public that opens their purses and donates to help pay your salary.
Very foolish on your part...and it is on the internet for all to read.

Perhaps you should set ego aside and go back to work... and ask yourself have you served yourself or your organization well today with this display... I think not! But that is just my opinion..

you are assuming a lot of things - I am not a public employee. Fear not, you do not contribute to my salary. You don't know what my job is so please refrain from sniping about what I should and should not be doing during company time. Please note the time of this post. I am working - not working... who cares - I don't.

You mentioned BIAs and you mentioned litter pickup and how they are billed. I know both issues intimately. You may have been referencing PHS but the services and context you discussed in the Dec 5 post have nothing to do with that organization.

addendum, if Coast Mental Health wants to pay $30 per hour for supervisory staff, they are free do to so but they do not bill their clients that way and they do not bill $30 per hour for their street work teams which is what you implied.

Sharon, yours is not the only "BIA area" in town.... never was it stated or implyed that you bill the BIA 30.00 that was an assumption on your part....
if you followed the thread and the entire conversation you will realize that we are talking about the cost to funders by "poverty pimps" that layer union wages to manage said workers.... "you don't know who I am", I could care less who you are, you have made ridiculous statements today. You have stooped to an incredible level.

If your organization takes government monies (funders) to pay union workers, to manage the minimum wage jobs for the disabled, I think we can both agree that the cost comes much closer to 30.00 per hour approximately. When you factor in benefits and union wages, and several departments.

You Sharon are assuming that you were the target of this conversation.

Either way your behavior in this forum today has spoken volumes, I've already received e-mails :-)

Next time don't cherry pick comments read the thread!!!
It will save you the embarrassment...

Again, I apologize for hitting a nerve... how many times have I apologized today....

is this your comment or not?

'For example the folks with disabilities that you see picking up trash and needles in BIA areas are paid 8.00 /hour, but the society charges $30.00 to cover administration staff costs....'

All I have attempted to do is clarify how one organization bills that you hold out as an example. that's it. All the rest of the conversation about what I should and should not be doing during my own time or work time has been your instigation and quite frankly, it is totally inappropriate.

I will not apologize for defending an organization that I highly respect but have no affiliation with. They do amazing work in our community. I fail to see how clarifying billing is viewed as outrageous or worthy of emails. Really... I am not that special.

A snipe about 'touching a nerve' is not an apology.

BTW, I am still working - in case you cared.

Again I am sorry Sharon, you are right that should have read 30.00 per hour for poverty pimps to manage persons with disabilities at union wages...I can only say that so many different ways.

I missed one of your earlier posts. Which explains why we are on different plains here. I misunderstood you, when you mentioned you were holding an invoice for Coast I was under the impression you were a Coast employee, surfing the net.

This entire thread has been in regard to poverty pimps and union wages. I stand by my comments in regards to the layering of union wages to manage these accounts. Only union employees benefit here.
That is why millions of dollars daily is spent in the DTES. Union wages are the biggest expense, which is what this conversation was originally about.

As for how much you would pay for garbage/dirty needle pick up, isn't it sad that people with disabilities, are only worth 8-10 bucks an hour to pick up DIRTY NEEDLES, and GARBAGE, something nobody else will do at that keep the area clean for you to run your business.

Perhaps a job that teaches skills to further their career path. That is where I feel organizations could do better for the wages they earn.

Ask any of the employees that you are paying for if they have received any training in hazardous material handling...their answer will be no.

Folks with drug addictions are put in areas where there is drug dealing and dangerous situations. Women are put in less than desirable neighborhoods to work alone.

Insite with union paid workers make claims that they are saving lives and keeping needles off the streets when in reality it is the folks with disabilities that are picking up those needles..I speak to the workers, not union paid staff.

I guess everyone benefits on the backs of the poor and disabled.

In my opinion that is a shame....

Trust me these jobs don't change lives, but that is what you are told by your union paid friends in any funded organization.

George, thank you. We indeed sing from the same song sheet in the end. A million dollars a day goes in to the DTES and look at the outcome. It is shameful. There are far too many pensions riding on everything remaining status quo.

I know my Coast team gets sharps training. Picking up litter is not the most glamourous job but it gives someone an opportunity to show up on time, interact with people and hopefully move on to a more meaningful form of employment. It is only a step. Sometimes $10 is overpayment, sometimes it is a deal. You take the good with the bad knowing that the person out there could be your brother or sister and they just need a little help to get on their feet.

It is likely the most rewarding program we participate in.


By no means are we on the same page in regards to the Coast team.

I am providing you with an e-mail address to contact me off line.

Please provide me with your Solicitors name and a time and I will step forward and give my Deposition.

You have opened a Pandora box that can't be closed again.

As well as giving a legal deposition I will provide documentation, brown envelopes and the name of another individual that is willing to be deposed.

Please note this is a very serious issue that has been brought up, I don't take it lightly. Your comments hit a nerve with me, which prompted my argumentative stance with you, and for that I am sorry. Sorry to you and for myself, as it almost cost me my life... There are always 3 sides to every story. Perhaps the truth finally needs to be heard.

I will attend with my legal representative, an investigative journalist and my support team.

Thanks George

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