Friday, December 26, 2008

Why Shelters are Not Full

From: Audrey Jane Laferriere audreylaferriere@yahoo.ca
Subject: HEAT
To: mayorandcouncil@vancouver.ca
Received: Tuesday, December 23, 2008, 11:30 PM

I cannot believe the incompetence of the highly paid, secretative experts who are part of HEAT. Their meetings are closed. My community keeps asking me who the hell is Janice Abbott? David Eby has sold out. And Chief Patrick Stewart should be tarred and feathered. The Aboriginal Homeless Streeting Committee as far as I know has not met in years. This goes to the fact leaders of the aboriginal poor do not give a damn about their street homeless people. As for the government paid "experts" they all are not even worth mentioning. When were they ever street homeless?

What has angered me these few days when I was doing volunteer outreach and telling the street people where the shelters are and what hours they operate I did not see one information sign and neither I have seen any outreach workers. The GVSS sends out alerts to shelters, community centres, the police and the media. This serves little purpose except for voter and media PR. It appears that they are doing something.

Every intersection utility pole should have a shelter bulletin pasted on it. And the shelters all should have blue lights at their doors so the homeless (as well as the taxpayers) know where the shelters are. Have you ever tired to find the women's shelter at the Lifeskills Centre on Cordova. I was there the day before yesterday and its entrance was double locked, it was dark, there was a buzzer which was extremely difficult to find, and there was no sign outside. This is also true at Powell Place for Women and the new shelter under the Granville Street bridge across from Unitow. No wonder the shelters have reported that they are not full. It is obvious if the target population cannot find shelters, the shelters are going to be empty.

The reasoning that word spreads by "word and mouth" is lame. Word of mouth only works for the seasoned street wise overly agressive crack head. What about the working poor and the new poor and the woman who just ran out of an abusive relationship with her children at 7:00 p.m. and those that have given up on the system.

Every intersection utility pole should have a shelter bulletin pasted on it. And the shelters all should have blue lights at their doors so the homeless (as well as the taxpayers) know where the shelters are. Have you ever tired to find the women's shelter at the Lifeskills Centre on Cordova. I was there the day before yesterday and its entrance was double locked, it was dark, there was a buzzer which was extremely difficult to find, and there was no sign outside. This is also true at Powell Place for Women and the new shelter under the Granville Street bridge across from Unitow. No wonder the shelters have reported that they are not full. It is obvious if the target population cannot find shelters, the shelters are going to be empty.

The reasoning that word spreads by "word and mouth" is lame. Word of mouth only works for the seasoned street wise overly agressive crack head. What about the working poor and the new poor and the woman who just ran out of an abusive relationship with her children at 7:00 p.m. and those that have given up on the system.

When I am in front of the First United Church I tell street people that it is open 21 hours a day and carts can be stored there and I am told that they did not know. The same when I tell others that there is a Women's Shelter at Life Skills. And when I am on Broadway they know even less. The homeless do not have access to the internet, newspaper, radio, television or even telephones. They live each day by the minute and such electronic communications are something they do not even have the energy to seek out.

From my understanding there are three independent shelters (First United is considered independent) as well as the HEAT shelters and the GVSS shelters: I was told that DERA and Potters Mission in the DTES have also opened up space for the homeless (both independents).

Audrey Laferriere
http://ca.mc316.mail.yahoo.com/mc/compose?to=audreylaferriere@yahoo.ca
778-329-1250

Maritimes Xmas Eve Party 2008

Flag this message
Maritimes Union Xmas Eve
Friday, December 26, 2008 5:24 PM
From:
"Audrey Jane Laferriere" View contact details
To:
clrjang@vancouver.ca

I was hoping to see you at the Maritimes Union on Triumph on Christmas Eve. But then it does not take politicians long to became part of the Jenny Kwan contempt for people. I remember when she was running for the provincial government I phoned and asked that I wanted to go to some meetings to hear her talk in person about her platform (like all candidates meetings) and I was told by her office that all the meetings were by invitation only. At that time three short years ago I wasn't too interested in being poor so I just left it but as I am getting old without assets I am now bitterly interested. If you guys are serious about change I suggest that you make sure that she is taken off the NDP nomination list to be elected again.

778-329-1250

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Emergency Homeless Shelter Task Force

From:
"Audrey Jane Laferriere" View contact details
To:
provletters@png.canwest.com

I am totally unimpressed by Gregor's choice for his emergency task force on homelessness. These choices are the same people who have for years were totally against more shelters in the City and now they are given the mandate to solve the problem. Gregor is dreaming in technocolour if he thinks they will solve anything.

The problem could have been solved two years ago when city-owned Storyeum became vacant. It would have provided the ideal location for a shelter for all of Metro Vancouver because it is in the DTES and it is also close to all transportation. Although the Water Street section has been leased (in-camera) alledgedly to a highend furniture store, the Cordova side is still vacant. So why is there no talk about Storyeum even though Claude Richmond said he would finance a building as a shelter.

What this task force will create will be a logistic nightmare and chaos rather than an efficient centralized uniform solution. The street homeless need one place to go rather than searching nightly for space available in church basements.

Storyeum is a no-brainer.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Storyeum: another use

From: Audrey Jane Laferriere audreylaferriere@yahoo.ca
Subject: Storyeum: another use
To: editor@vancourier.com
Received: Friday, December 5, 2008, 6:10 PM

I read your story about Storyeum. You made no mention of my two year vigil to make it a shelter for the street homeless. In the process I collected more than 5000 signatures with comments such as "please help" "it is cold outside" "both I and my young son are homeless." Our City has allowed people to suffer when it is not necessary, a silent slow genocide, and when a solution became vacant (Storyeum) not one of the agencies or activisits in the DTES who profess to act or look after the street homeless offered any help to secure the building to curtail this responsibility. Two years ago your paper published a letter to the editor who propelled me on this course. I do not regret the time I spent on the project as I have learned just how cruel and barbaric society is to our most vulnerable citizens. Before that I really believed that we as a City would not allow such behavior but I was wrong. At least I tried. I am on the high ground on this.

Why is it the name of the new tenant for the Cordova Street entrance confidential. I was told by John Breckner that it is Xcelsior Bowling from New Westminister. The same company that was rejected by City Council in January 31 2008.

Also it is very interesting that the City is paying a small fortune to demolish the interior of the Storyeum building. I suspect it was a condition imposed by the furniture company. An agreement with the furniture company for the City to pay for most of the impovements/renovations. This money could have paid to shelter the street homeless for at least a year.

As for Gregor and his promise to end street homelessness now, this is a joke as we are are in the cold/wet season and he wants to establish a task force of the leaders in the DTES within ninety days. The joke is that the leaders are the same agencies and advocates who have done nothing to ensure that the street people do not perish on the streets. One of The Greater Vancouver Shelter Strategy's mandate is that its members are not to advocate for shelters. Even the aboriginal leaders did not want Storyeum; they are waiting for "real" housing. Contrary to all the mantra in the City, shelters should come first; then housing. Not the other way round. The public that donates monies to these agencies in the DTES should question where their money is going. It costs very little for someone to sleep on a floor.

Also why is it that the lease for Storyeum was held incamera on October 28 2008 and the City clerk's office would not even tell me if this property was on the agenda. Again in January 31 2008 when the fitness company wanted it it was in open council. Nothing is suppose to be confidential unless it can be proven to be a risk to the City (see forthcoming email from City). Is the City already anticipating that the furniture company is going to go bankrupt.

I hope that you publish at least part of this letter. I want it on record.

Audrey Laferriere
778-329-1250

Sunday, October 12, 2008

VOTE
AUDREY JANE LAFERRIERE
independent
for VANCOUVER CITY COUNCIL
15 NOVEMBER 2008

A vote for Audrey Jane Laferriere means a “yes” for City-owned 142 Water/Cordova Streets (old Storyeum location) to become a minimalist Shelter, a 24-hour Community Centre, and a Detox Centre for metro Vancouver. It can also be used as an emergency preparedness centre. Storyeum has been without a long-term tenant since November 2006. Each vote for Audrey Jane Laferriere will say that you want the above. With 100,000 votes, it is absolutely certain that the next elected City Council will amend its existing policy and immediately create more shelters so no one is living on the streets. All the political parties have written policies against shelters. So, your vote is important. Remember it is the voters who tell the politicians what to do.

Last year there were 36,000 turnaways from shelters within a nine-month period. Why because all of the service providers, advocates, churches, unions and aboriginal leaders in the DTES oppose more shelters. They either are unthinking or they want to believe in “housing first.” Before “housing first” can be implemented, we need affordable housing: It can’t be done with a zero vacancy rate. Unfortunately, the governments listen to this “cart before the horse” logic. This backward logic has been the status quo for as long as I can remember (20 years). Using the argument that there should be no temporary solutions is cruel and barbaric. The street homeless have to be sheltered even if it is a mat on a floor. Providing minimalist shelters should be an essential service apart from affordable/social housing. Unless 142 Water/Cordova happens, or there is an alternative, we will continue to put the most vulnerable at risk. Shelters will not solve the underlying reasons for homelessness but it will solve the problem now of people living on the streets.

It is questionable what the DTES non-profits (all 470) do but one thing for certain is that they are not looking after the street marginalized. These organizations all have narrow special interest mandates none of which includes more shelters. And when questioned about their individual responsibility to the street homeless, they hide behind/cite their job descriptions. The United Church is willing to use its premises as a drug injection sanctuary if needed but will not use its DTES underground parking as an outside shelter. VANDU does not support more shelters although most of its members are sick and homeless. Last November the Vancouver Food Bank closed its depot in the DTES without notice. The executive director of the food bank skis at Whistler, shops at Holt Renfrew and earns $150K. She recently was the author/chair of a report by the Regional Steering Committee on Homelessness against shelters. Lookout is very concerned over the fact that a few of the street homeless are not from Vancouver and therefore no new shelter space should be created. Dumb logic. The aborigiinal community does not want shelters for its own people preferring to wait for Federal funding. The Aboriginal Front Door at Hastings and Main has on its door "Do not Sleep in the Doorway." The City and the non-profits are busily double gating their properties to prevent the homeless from sleeping in their doorways. The voice of the DTES is the Carnegie Centre that wrongly believes that it speaks for the DTES residents. If it were true then no one would be living on the streets. The street homeless are in survival mode and cannot fight for themselves. We assume these organizations are looking after the street homeless but they are not.

The street homeless in the DTES experiences 500X the death rate over overall neighbourhoods in the City. We as a City cannot wait until “real” housing is built while the street homeless suffer needlessly because they lack adequate nutrition, inadequate health care, emotional distress, inadequate shelter, inadequate sleep, inadequate hygiene, exposure to the elements, and inadequate personal safety. And it is costing the taxpayer $55,000 annually for welfare, health and policing per homeless person. And the new $5.4 million DTES community court has a basketball court… and the not-yet 3800 social housing units Ladner speaks of does not replace the 6400 lost SRO rooms. We need more shelters now.

We need the old Storyeum location to be a centralized minimalist shelters for metro Vancouver (skytrain stops at Waterfront) so those that are homeless or at risk of homelessness know where to go. Later they can be referred to other shelters/resources/housing. A shelter like Storyeum should be centralized for efficiencies and social housing should be scattered. We do not need a high-end furniture store from Iran/Germany, a high-end bowling alley from New West, or a high-end fitness gym and spa from North Carolina at this location.

POLITICAL DONATIONS
75-12 EAST HASTINGS STREET
VANCOUVER BC V6A 1N1

http://voiceofgoneballistic.blogspot.com/
epetition: http://storyeum.googlepages.com/ Audrey Jane Laferriere
audreylaferriere@yahoo.ca (778-329-1250)

Meet me at 142 Water Street Sunday afternoons from 2:00 to 4:00.
View the >5,000 signature paper shelter petition with comments like shelters saved my life...
View the 5,000 signature paper petition wanting more shelters with comments

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Verbal Discourse

The only thing certain about Ladner wanting to wait for a permanent solution to street homelessness are the deaths occurring in the DTES weekly.

In the first mayoral debate Ladner referred to Philip Mangano, the US czar of homelessness, that "housing first" was the way to go. When I spoke to Philip and when I told him that the City has a deliberate written policy not to do more shelters he was perplexed and he asked him what was the City going to do with the homeless in the meantime. I told Ladner this and at the next debate he said that the City's Housing Director, Cameron Gray, was the "expert" and Cameron said that we need permanent solutions. Of course Cameron would say that as he is an employee.

As for Robertson, he is doing the same thing as City Council has always done is listen to the wrong people and not use common sense. There is no reason for anyone to be living on the streets. Putting a mat on the floor at Storyeum is negligible in cost so why is he even considering opening additional buildings such as community centers. Such a plan is nothing more than a logistic nightmare. We do not need portable shelters all over the City. We need shelters that can stablize people and not move them each morning to the street and then to another shelter.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Municipal Election 2008

audreylaferriere@yahoo.ca
http://storyeum.googlepages.com

At a community relations meeting June 25 2008 at the Carnegie Centre after asking when was the Carnegie going to do an action in support of making City-owned 142 Water (old Storyeum location) a minimalist shelter and 24-hour community center, I was told that Carnegie had other priorities and mandates and funders telling them what to do. For close to two years I have been waiting for some kind of definite action from Carnegie and now this. Carnegie is suppose to be the "voice of the DTES" and it had already sent two letters of support to City Hall. I went ballistic and knew that I had to do something: I am sure Carnegie thought I would because of lack of community support disappear. The Carnegie is of the opinion that the street residents of the DTES should stay on the street until "real" housing is built. What a terrible price for the street homeless to pay. After that meeting I decided to run as an Independant for the 2008 City Council and make 142 Water the main focus of my pending campaign. What can be more important than making sure the street homeless have a safe dry place to sleep at night.

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