Vancouver homeless people in tents get evicted

Vancouver police clashed with residents of Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside as the city began to remove an encampment there.

The city’s fire chief ordered the tents to be cleared last month, saying they were an extreme fire safety hazard.

“Our crews are going to be facing a really difficult time pulling up here … and getting adequate water onto that fire in a reasonable amount of time [with tents here],” said Matthew Trudeau, public information officer with Vancouver Fire & Rescue Services.

“This is incredibly dangerous.”

But residents are just “trying to make the best out of what they’ve got,” according to Laura Gravis, who is addicted to heroin. Gravis sat playing a piano set up on the street, a telling sign of how permanent the encampment has become over time.

The B.C. Human Rights Commissioner estimates 400 people live in tents along several blocks of the Downtown Eastside.

Advocates say it’s the city that has created the problem.

“The reason there is nowhere for people to go is B.C. Housing and the city have actually admitted we do not have enough adequate housing options available at this moment,” said Anna Cooper, a staff lawyer with the advocacy group Pivot Legal Society.

A lack of affordable housing has prompted tent cities to spring up across the country.

In Toronto, an average of 40 people a night are told there’s no bed available for them in homeless shelters, according to newly released city data.

In a statement, B.C. Housing said it does not have the spaces necessary to provide shelter for people who are being displaced.

Edgar Alan Rossetti, an artist in the encampment, said he knew where he would head next.

  • “Two feet away,” he said. “I’ll go around the block, and I’ll camp back over there.”

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