May 6, 2019 – The City of Vancouver has done everything it can – including police harassment, closing the toilets and even a metal fence – to shut out and displace people who are trying to survive the housing crisis by sleeping in Oppenheimer Park. On Tuesday May 7, tent city residents and supporters will gather to defend the park, demand that the fence stay down, and tell the City of Vancouver and the Province to reduce and control rents, build housing, and stop criminalizing the poor.
Oppenheimer tent city residents continue to be displaced and dehumanized with daily and weekly raids. Residents are forced to move their tents every morning, with city staff and police tearing tents down and throwing peoples’ belongings out if they are not gone by noon. Campers must move their tents and possessions to the side of the park and remain with it for hours at a time, in rain or inclement weather, while city workers and VPD toss people’s shelters into trucks with pitchforks.
“What’s happening down here, under the “leadership” of the VPD, is an insult to the heart of the Downtown Eastside,” says Larry Carlston of the American Indian Movement. “This is unceded territory.”
Flora Munroe, organizer with the Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users, says “We’re tired of being stepped on and shoved aside by bullies. When we’re organized and fight back they are scared of us – that’s why they took the fence down.”
City staff acknowledge that raids cost the city upwards of $15,000 per day, but say there is no money to provide support to campers to safeguard belongings, provide housing, and humanize those experiencing homelessness. City workers harass, intimidate and insult campers who risk arrest if they resist their unjust evictions.
“All levels of government must invest in permanent, affordable housing for all. They used to do it in the sixties, seventies and eighties and we desperately need for them to do so again. Build social housing at shelter and pension rates now!”, says Laurel Gaudette of the Carnegie Community Action Project.
Our Homes Can’t Wait demands an end to police and city bias, harassment and criminalization of the poor. We demand that the metal fence stay down, that the city and province reduce and control rents, and change federal, provincial and city housing policies that promote austerity and displace the most vulnerable.
There were 53 tents in the park at last count.
Oppenheimer Park is on the unceded traditional territory of the Tsleil Waututh, Musqueam and Squamish First Nations, and has long been considered a safe haven, and home, for social justice.
About Our Homes Can’t Wait Coalition
Our Homes Can’t Wait is a coalition of groups that want more social housing in the Downtown Eastside. The Our Homes Can’t Wait campaign and the community vision for 58 W Hastings has so far been endorsed by Carnegie Community Action Project, Carnegie Community Centre Association, Gallery Gachet, Alliance Against Displacement, Carnegie African Descent Group, Vancouver IWW, COSCO Council of Senior Citizens’ Organizations of B.C., Union Gospel Mission, Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users, WAHRS – Western Aboriginal Harm Reduction Society, First United – Vancouver Downtown Eastside, Pivot Legal Society, Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre, Downtown Eastside Neighbourhood House, Chinatown Concern Group 唐人街關注組, Chinatown Action Group 華埠行動小組, Aboriginal Front Door, and Downtown Eastside SRO Collaborative
Vincent Tao, OHCW Organizer
Flora Munroe, OHCW Organizer
Our mailing address is:
Our Homes Can’t Wait
401 Main Street, Unceded Coast Salish Territory
Vancouver, BC V6A 2T7