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

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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

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