FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE (August 8 2016)
VICTORIA, LEKWUNGEN TERRITORY: Monday, August 8th marks the court ordered eviction day for residents of Super InTent City (SIC). After almost 10 months, many will move on to permanent, supportive housing at the former Central Care Home, the hard won victory of tent city. On this day, residents of SIC declare that the fight for affordable and appropriate housing is not over and release their collective demands for housing going forward.
According to tent city resident Jamie Greene: “The new housing facility will house 147 of us. In the last homeless count there were almost 1400 homeless people in Victoria, which means the government has permanently housed 10% of the current homeless population in Victoria.” Greene continued, “We will continue to organize and fight for those who have been left behind, those in temporary shelters, living in cars or on couches, being evicted, youth, and those who are falling into homelessness every day.”
As a legacy of SIC, residents are releasing a document with their collective demands for housing. These demands represent almost 10 months of meetings to come to consensus on key elements of housing for low income people, including the need for an increased stock of affordable housing at welfare rates, the need for resident self-determination and control over their own housing, permanent homes and not temporary shelters, processes of accountability for housing providers, and no policing or surveillance in housing. The demands also describe elements of safe and decent housing that should be as available to people with low incomes as people with higher incomes, such as sufficient privacy and living space (including private bathrooms), proper maintenance of building, being able to have guests and family visit, being able to have companion animals, and being treated with respect by housing staff.
According to tent city resident, Doug: “We need to be treated as human beings and to have control over our homes and lives. We need to feel safe and secure in our homes so that we don’t wind up back on the street.” He continued: “The purpose of these collective demands is to guide decisions and operations about housing for us going forward.”
SIC residents arrived on the courthouse lawn in October, 2015 due to a housing crisis with close to 0.0% vacancy in units affordable for low income people. People reported experiencing evictions, poor treatment, and discrimination when accessing housing in the past. People stayed at SIC for the safety, security, and self-determination they found in running their own space, looking after themselves and their community.
The housing demands of SIC are consistent with years of local research says Dr. Bernie Pauly, a housing researcher and Scientist at the Centre for Addictions Research of BC. According to Pauly, “We need affordable housing, but appropriate housing is just as important to successfully house people. The collective demands are not presumptive; they are basic, like wanting to have a say in housing, wanting privacy, wanting to have notice before entry into rooms, and being able to cook their own food. These are elements of good housing for everyone and low income people should be afforded them as well.”
Residents of SIC have already provided the Portland Hotel Society with a list of their housing demands and will send to all housing service providers in the coming weeks, and continue to organize for housing justice and against displacement.