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Vancouver aims to "end homelessness by 2015"
October 24, 2011 12:39 PM   Subscribe

Vancouver aims to "end homelessness by 2015". Officials have been working over the years to reduce the city’s homelessness, and in July passed an ambitious plan that targets eliminating street homelessness by 2015 and creating nearly 40,000 new units of social, rental, and condo housing by 2021. The plan is aimed at building multiple types of housing to address shortages, but the first three years focus mainly on supportive and social housing. It calls for 3,650 units of such housing, 1,700 of which are already funded and in either the planning or construction phase. According to city councilor Kerry Jang, the need for this type of supportive housing has skyrocketed in recent years.
posted by modernnomad (96 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite

 
Here in the US cities handle this by giving out bus tickets to San Francisco. So I figure either Canada doesn't have a San Francisco, or it does and it's Vancouver.
posted by George_Spiggott at 12:45 PM on October 24, 2011 [10 favorites]


Hey guys, I just thought of a great solution for the homeless problem in the US!

in all seriousness, though, good for canada
posted by entropicamericana at 12:48 PM on October 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


The problem of homelessness isn't that people don't have enough money to put a roof over their heads. It's the people are too mentally ill to be able to put themselves in a situation to have enough money to put a roof over their heads.

The article does address this, to its credit:

“If you take an urban health approach, your goal is really to make people better. Housing is only a part of it,” Jang says. “Housing is not the end game.”
posted by lewedswiver at 12:48 PM on October 24, 2011 [19 favorites]


I'm glad they're trying this because I was getting worried about what was happening with all the high-end stuff moving into the downtown east side and displacing people. I hate to say it but after the Olympics I'm not sure I trust the City's reporting though. I'll support this idea but I hope the results will be reported honestly and benefit people who desperately need it.

Here in the US cities handle this by giving out bus tickets to San Francisco. So I figure either Canada doesn't have a San Francisco, or it does and it's Vancouver.

Yeah we have that rumor about other provinces sending all their homeless to Vancouver too but I don't buy it. The city is very expensive and it's a port with a lot of drugs and a less severe climate than most of the country. Bus tickets or no, it is far too easy to fall into a bad situation here.
posted by Hoopo at 12:51 PM on October 24, 2011 [3 favorites]


If they succeed, they should really show Montreal how it's done.
posted by VicNebulous at 12:53 PM on October 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Hey guys, I just thought of a great solution for the homeless problem in the US!

In unrelated news, the US appears to be taking a sudden interest in revitalizing its rail infrastructure. Reportedly, talks are underway with Canada to ease the often tedious border crossing process.
posted by b1tr0t at 12:55 PM on October 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


Speaking as a reasonably intelligent, employed individual with money in the bank who is currently searching for a new apt in Vancouver : Ha!
posted by mannequito at 12:55 PM on October 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Isn't it a problem that because a city like Vancouver is providing these services and housing for the homeless, it only helps to attract more homeless people to Vancouver, and therefore they can never end homelessness in Vancouver unless they pretty much build enough housing to house all homeless people in Canada? It seems like San Francisco had a similar problem when they were housing more homeless people than before, yet the homeless population had barely changed due to others coming into the city to take advantage of the city's generous social services.
posted by gyc at 12:57 PM on October 24, 2011 [5 favorites]


Huh, how does this work with the insane housing prices there? I see there's a tax rebate for developers, but I can't imagine how it would be worth it to them.
posted by desjardins at 12:59 PM on October 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm skeptical, gyc. Your odds of freezing to death in British Columbia as a homeless person are significantly lower than in other provinces.
posted by Yowser at 1:00 PM on October 24, 2011


the homeless population had barely changed due to others coming into the city to take advantage of the city's generous social services.

perhaps some sort of residency requir...oh wait.
posted by desjardins at 1:00 PM on October 24, 2011 [3 favorites]


gyc: I find your response to understandable, but a little bit cynical. There's a huge difference between, A, having 2,000 people on the streets, and 100 housed at-risk poor people getting counselling, and B, having 2,000 people on the streets, and 2,000 housed at-risk poor people getting counselling.

Also, 'take advantage'? You may not have meant it to, but that sounds pretty loaded. Do you mean, uh, 'use'?

I'd like to assume the mandate is more than just 'let's get these people off the corner so we can continue enjoying gentrification in peace'.

desjardins: I am also curious about this. Do any Vancouverites know how this is playing out?
posted by liminalrampaste at 1:02 PM on October 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


Cautious optimism here.
posted by seanmpuckett at 1:02 PM on October 24, 2011


Isn't it a problem that because a city like Vancouver is providing these services and housing for the homeless, it only helps to attract more homeless people to Vancouver, and therefore they can never end homelessness in Vancouver unless they pretty much build enough housing to house all homeless people in Canada?

Well, how much mobility do the chronically homeless have? I'm honestly asking, because it would seem like it wouldn't be very much, but maybe I'm wrong.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 1:04 PM on October 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


gyc: I find your response to understandable, but a little bit cynical. There's a huge difference between, A, having 2,000 people on the streets, and 100 housed at-risk poor people getting counselling, and B, having 2,000 people on the streets, and 2,000 housed at-risk poor people getting counselling.

Also, 'take advantage'? You may not have meant it to, but that sounds pretty loaded. Do you mean, uh, 'use'?


I guess take advantage was a poor choice of words. I have no beef against people down on their luck doing whatever they have to do to survive, including migrating to places where the homeless are treated relatively better. However, homelessness is a national problem and everyone in the country should contribute to helping the homeless, instead of having the residents of SF/Vancouver/etc. shoulder most of the load of helping people from around the country.
posted by gyc at 1:07 PM on October 24, 2011 [6 favorites]


Well, how much mobility do the chronically homeless have?

Not much. When you move, you lose all of your support networks, connections, geographical awareness, everything. You're still homeless, but without any of the friends or connections at shelters that keep you alive every day.
posted by Jairus at 1:08 PM on October 24, 2011 [3 favorites]


Well, how much mobility do the chronically homeless have? I'm honestly asking, because it would seem like it wouldn't be very much, but maybe I'm wrong.

I was thinking of the mythical buy the homeless a one way bus ticket to San Francisco type of scenario. I don't know if that's really a thing the some cities do.
posted by gyc at 1:08 PM on October 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's great to see Vancouver learning lessons from neighbouring Victoria, BC. While we have not eliminated homelessnes, the construction of new shelters, as well as new approaches to shelters (such as both "wet" and "dry" facilities) have really helped.
posted by KokuRyu at 1:14 PM on October 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


The fact that there are far more homeless people in places with pleasant year-round climates is a strong indication that they do have some measure of mobility. And Vancouver is about as pleasant as it gets in Canada.
posted by miyabo at 1:19 PM on October 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


I hope we have another FPP in 2015 about the results of this experiment.
posted by John Cohen at 1:20 PM on October 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


New York City buys the homeless plane tickets to get "home." the most common destination? Puerto Rico.
posted by 2bucksplus at 1:20 PM on October 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Okay, gyc, I can see that. But, y'know, we have a right-wing government up here, so it's not going to happen at the national level for a little while. It's got to start somewhere, and if Vancouver is willing to shoulder the presumable burden, I'm totally gonna rock Vancouver foam hands.
posted by liminalrampaste at 1:21 PM on October 24, 2011


The fact that there are far more homeless people in places with pleasant year-round climates is a strong indication that they do have some measure of mobility.

Or looked at another way, a strong indication that places with less favourable climates are quite efficient at killing off people who don't have shelter.
posted by Jairus at 1:22 PM on October 24, 2011 [14 favorites]


creating nearly 40,000 new units of social, rental, and condo housing by 2021. The plan is aimed at building multiple types of housing to address shortages, but the first three years focus mainly on supportive and social housing. It calls for 3,650 units of such housing, 1,700 of which are already funded and in either the planning or construction phase.

So this is basically a way of saying they are going to fund 1,700 units of subsidized housing, and give tax breaks to developers who want to build 30,000 condos on spec, plus a little bit of rental on the side.

Meanwhile, half my paycheque goes to the foreign (American) speculators who own the 600sq.ft. studio I share with my girlfriend. If we bought it, the mortgage, taxes and strata fees combined would have been almost 100% of our take home pay, assuming 20% down, which would be about 150% of what we make in a year. Or rather, what we would make in a year before last month, when my SO's employer fired her for demanding her right to be paid overtime for 12hr shifts without breaks. Apparently sacrificing my values and self-respect by working in finance isn't even enough to make it here. You got to bring your own bankroll from somewhere that still has a real economy.

Fuck Golden Boy Gregor and his smarmy socially conscious image as long as he continues his pandering and tax givaways to the land speculators who are destroying the city in which I was born and, for some bizarre reason, want to continue living.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 1:22 PM on October 24, 2011 [4 favorites]


Yes, they do have mobility. I spend a fair bit of time in the DTES and interact with a lot of the homeless/borderline homeless, and it's pretty common to hear people in the winter bragging about how they hitchhiked from Winnipeg or Montreal or even Halifax in just ____ days because of the weather.

I also had a sociology teacher a few years ago who did a lot of studies in smaller Native communities in Northern BC. He said there were a lot of poor people in those communities who would hitch or greyhound to Vancouver for the winter, and return home up North in the spring.
posted by mannequito at 1:23 PM on October 24, 2011 [5 favorites]


gyc: “Isn't it a problem that because a city like Vancouver is providing these services and housing for the homeless, it only helps to attract more homeless people to Vancouver, and therefore they can never end homelessness in Vancouver unless they pretty much build enough housing to house all homeless people in Canada? It seems like San Francisco had a similar problem when they were housing more homeless people than before, yet the homeless population had barely changed due to others coming into the city to take advantage of the city's generous social services.”

If you've got data on that, I'd like to see it; as it is, I'm highly skeptical of this scenario you're positing. I have never been homeless, and count myself lucky on that, but I used to work with juvenile probation with a lot of families that did struggle with homelessness. In my experience, people who lose their homes because they can't pay their mortgage or because they can't make rent or are evicted or can't find a job that pays enough don't really have the luxury of stopping and considering what city they'd like to become homeless in.

I think this rumor (like the rumor of giving bus tickets to the homeless) is one founded in an earlier time when transportation was cheap. Right now, if a person becomes homeless, do you really think they're going to shell out $100 or $200 on a Greyhound ticket or a train ticket or whatever to some sunny, comfortable location? And leave any marginal support or safety net they might think they have in their current city?

Again, I find this highly unlikely. The homeless are not suburban tourists. I don't think this is how they think.
posted by koeselitz at 1:24 PM on October 24, 2011 [3 favorites]


Are they going to end homelessness the same way they handled it during the Olympics, but busing their homeless to other cities like Hamilton, ON?
posted by Fizz at 1:26 PM on October 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


sorry, gyc, didn't see your other response
posted by koeselitz at 1:29 PM on October 24, 2011


Joking aside, this is an awesome project for Vancouver.
posted by b1tr0t at 1:29 PM on October 24, 2011




I have heard rumors that the local police here sometimes deal with specific people they want gone with bus tickets. My guess is that it happens, but not on a massive scale.

I hope Vancouver makes this work.
posted by Forktine at 1:34 PM on October 24, 2011


This plan has been on the books for years, and is sadly mostly bunk. relying on double-counting previous commitments mostly by provincial/federal governments; see City drastically reduces housing goals. Guess how many additional units of social housing the current council has committed to building? Hint: it's not a positive number. And meanwhile, "The report acknowledges that the City cannot in fact promise the actual housing, and that “the delivery of these units will require funding from senior governments, non-profit partners and possibly the private sector.”" So once you get past the press releases, it's quite obvious that this particular government isn't all that concerned.

This is mostly code for a policy of gentrification which is making the city increasingly unaffordable. This is all fine and dandy if you can afford $400k for a single-bedroom condo, or $1500/mo rent, but otherwise you can move along. The article does allude to this in its discussion of new market-rate housing, which Vancouver is currently aggressively pursuing via the STIR program, which basically exempts condo developers from paying any development tax. It was introduced in 2008 as a stimulus measure to prevent a market slowdown due to the global recession, and has become a permanent handout to developers. When the article says this program has "struggled to take hold," they mean it has struggled to produce a positive outcome for the city. "STIR places no cap on the amount of rent that can be charged on the units built through the program."

I'll be surprised to see homelessness in Vancouver end in my lifetime.
posted by mek at 1:34 PM on October 24, 2011 [10 favorites]



Cautious optimism here.


Same here. I also hope that they success and that our mayor here in Toronto takes notice. I also wonder if and when we'll get a safe injection site.
posted by beau jackson at 1:34 PM on October 24, 2011


I was thinking of the mythical buy the homeless a one way bus ticket

One source of the myth: former Alberta Premier Ralph Klein publicly joked about giving homeless people in Alberta a bus ticket to Vancouver.

On another occasion a drunken Klein swore at some homeless people and hurled change at them.

As far as I know Klein's bus ticket line was just a mean spirited joke, but if anyone would have done it it would have been him.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 1:35 PM on October 24, 2011 [4 favorites]


KokuRyu, that article you just linked (which is really good btw) is from the future!
posted by mannequito at 1:37 PM on October 24, 2011


As long as we remember Vancouver is a world-class city.
posted by KokuRyu at 1:39 PM on October 24, 2011




and the previously link for that URL
posted by desjardins at 1:42 PM on October 24, 2011


Poignant quote from KokuRyu's link:
A city increasingly composed of median-income renters widens the gap between rich and poor. As new members of the middle class are pushed into rental units, they boost the fortunes of existing property owners while depleting their own, whether their landlords are the people living upstairs, offshore condo investors, or funds like Great-West Life. And this is where things start to topple. When prices heat up, the middle class eats up units that would previously have been occupied by moderate- to low-income earners. “Moderate-income people in Vancouver are moving into student housing,” says councillor Heather Deal. “Students are moving into welfare apartments in the Downtown Eastside. And the homeless are popping out the bottom of the system.”
posted by mannequito at 1:48 PM on October 24, 2011 [7 favorites]


The only "put them on a bus" stuff I've ever seen real evidence for is the (incredibly disturbing) habit some hospitals have had in SoCal, where they send people off in taxis to Skid Row at discharge. This was brought to the public eye by the LAPD - nearly everyone is really, really incentivized to publicly point out that kind of thing, and it was a huge scandal. Especially because these people were sometimes wandering the streets at night still in hospital gowns with patient ID bracelets on, and at least once were both shoeless and too disoriented to know they needed to ask for help (as in, this was caught on video and led to a criminal complaint.) Frankly, the only other policy I can think of that's similar is when prisons give people bus tickets when they're released - and I doubt very much they care what city people go to. Though they might make suggestions, and I don't think it's all that bad to suggest either a warm climate or a place that's known for strong social services (I'd suggest Seattle before Boise, for instance.)

And my limited experience suggests strongly that there is a hard core of homelessness that may never be eradicated. I'm glad that supportive housing and (hopefully lots and lots of) social services is being planned for in this case, but as long as you have to be an imminent danger to yourself or a convicted criminal to be taken off the streets against your will, there will be people on the streets. The kind of rules and structured life some of these people need is exactly the kind of thing they won't stand for (in much the same way that many alcoholics can't tolerate rehab and many people with mental illness can't see they are sick.) "We're going to end homelessness in our time" is a nice thing politicians like to say, and nothing more.

But again, good for Vancouver. There are still a lot of homeless (and on the edge) people who need and want this kind of help. (I have no idea if Vancouver actually has a "housing shortage" in the economic sense - distinguishing total housing units from poverty and joblessness and severe mental illness and so forth.)
posted by SMPA at 1:49 PM on October 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


lewedswiver: The problem of homelessness isn't that people don't have enough money to put a roof over their heads. It's the people are too mentally ill to be able to put themselves in a situation to have enough money to put a roof over their heads.

According to a friend who's studied the issue (Krishna Pendakur, an economist at Simon Fraser University), the cost of housing is a more significant factor than the prevalence of mental illness or drug addiction. See John M. Quigley and Stephen Raphael, The Economics of Homelessness: A View from North America (PDF).
It is generally believed that the increased incidence of homelessness in the US has arisen from broad societal factors – changes in the institutionalization of the mentally ill, increases in drug addiction and alcohol usage, etc. This paper reports on a comprehensive test of the alternate hypothesis that variations in homelessness arise from changed circumstances in the housing market and in the income distribution. We utilize essentially all the systematic information available on homelessness in US urban areas – census counts, shelter bed counts, records of transfer payments, and administrative agency estimates. We use these data to estimate the effects of housing prices, vacancies, and rent-to-income ratios upon the incidence of homelessness. Our results suggest that simple economic principles governing the availability and pricing of housing and the growth in demand for the lowest quality housing explain a large portion of the variation in homelessness among US metropolitan housing markets. Furthermore, rather modest improvements in the affordability of rental housing or its availability can substantially reduce the incidence of homelessness in the US.
posted by russilwvong at 1:57 PM on October 24, 2011 [4 favorites]


It seems like a classic "correlation is not causation" to me. Astronomical housing costs, welfare cuts, mental health services cuts, and the end of provincial subsidy programs for social housing combined to make the perfect storm that is Vancouver in the last decade. It wouldn't be nearly as bad if the province hadn't cut so many social programs, it wouldn't be nearly as bad if the federal government had stronger limits on foreign ownership, and it wouldn't be nearly as bad if the city had taken social housing more seriously after it lost provincial support. It's not surprising that the mentally/chronically ill are particularly vulnerable, but it's not the only or even most signficant factor involved.
posted by mek at 2:03 PM on October 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


Fuck Golden Boy Gregor and his smarmy socially conscious image as long as he continues his pandering and tax givaways to the land speculators who are destroying the city in which I was born

Yeah, but I can't say NPA is looking particularly great either.

Regarding the cost of renting, Vancouver seems only slightly worse than a number of other Canadian cities these days if Craigslist is any indication. I just had a look at my hometown's listings, and much like here in Vancouver you can save money on rent by moving further out from the City or into a bad neighbourhood, but the inconvenience of commuting and cost of transportation etc will probably make it less worthwhile. My impression is that this is a larger problem than a municipal one.
posted by Hoopo at 2:03 PM on October 24, 2011


There are a lot of problems in Vancouver that contribute to the homeless problem. Anecdotal evidence of buses inbound Edmonton/Prince George aside, the rent here is insane. Unless you're willing to deal with a 1hour+ commute to get from PoCo to DT, you need to be in Burnaby, downtown Van, or somewhere south of Kits, down into the ends of Richmond.

Housing built to rent is a great start but can backfire pretty quick. UBC recently put up 'student' housing in spades and charged 'market' rates. Turns out they were looking at Point Grey (the rich, white, SUV driving peninsula) prices instead of provincial or national data. Or anything relating to what students can pay without slaving themselves out to the TA/Student Union system.

Long story short, we asked for grad housing and got it. Just at $850 (now) for a 7x18 room in a four person shared apartment.

Who the fuck can afford that as a grad student?

Anyway, they need to not use Vancouver market rates as a baseline. They need to use 45% of current living wage as the goddamn median. Not the maximum, not the minimum, the median.
posted by Slackermagee at 2:07 PM on October 24, 2011 [3 favorites]


Going Going Gone: Generation Fucked Leaves Vancouver

This is very real. Not only is it forcing people out, but it discourages any sort of young talent from relocating to Vancouver in the first place. My wife and I grew up in Victoria and got masters degrees in physiotherapy and planning, respectively. We were working in Calgary where our household income was right around $150-160,000. We considered Vancouver (where I lived from 1999-2003 and loved it) but the cost of living is exhorbitant. We moved to Victoria instead, and bought a 4br, 100 year old house in a great neighbourhood for $585K. That same house in a similar location in Vancouver (Kits) would have been 1.5 million. Our salaries certainly wouldn't have tripled in Vancouver.

This will have an impact. Vancouver loses a significant amount of young, intelligent people to other markets like Calgary and Toronto simply because of the affordability factor.

I'd like to see, at the very least, a foreign ownership cap on speculation in real estate. There's no reason for it to be that high compared to somewhere like Victoria.
posted by jimmythefish at 2:08 PM on October 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


The problem with Victoria is that, while rents and mortgages may be cheaper here, salaries are lower as well than in Vancouver, and some costs (food, for example, but not gasoline) are higher. While there is lower unemployment in Victoria than in Vancouver, the quality of jobs here is not as great. There is a technology sector (but you need to be able to write code) and the government (but you need an MPA), but that's about it.
posted by KokuRyu at 2:14 PM on October 24, 2011


It's not just mental illness or lack of money that keeps people out of housing. It's also.... credit checks! You may be flush with cash, have a job and be the sanest motherfucker on the planet but if you have bad credit good luck renting a decent flat. The only things that'll be open to you will be slum tenements charging those barely able to afford normal rates a "no questions asked" premium for shitty, dangerous units with no maintenance. And of course who has bad credit? The homeless.

When I was doing portraits of people participating in the Step Home project, this was cited as one of the highest barriers to entry into the traditional roof-over-your-head market; this is Mark.
posted by seanmpuckett at 2:14 PM on October 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


Alright, so my fixing rent thing came out in a storm of left wing angst. Lets forget I said that for a second.

Right now rent increases are capped at 2% a year, which is good. (Ab)using this, one might be able to 'cap' rent without upsetting the market forces (rich speculators from Germany, Australia, and Beijing) too too much.

Set a progressive rental income tax. Is the rent collected below 20% of living wage? No tax. Is the rent collected below 30% of the living wage but above 20%? 5% tax. 30%-40%? 10% tax. Etc.

More revenue and either drastically adjusted rent prices or speculators that abandon the city in droves. Short term pain for speculators in case a, or the city in case b. Both seem like they can afford the 5 year revenue spike.
posted by Slackermagee at 2:19 PM on October 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


I sometimes wonder if Vancouver ought to imitate Singapore's HDB (a crash program which built 51,000 units of rental housing in five years).
posted by russilwvong at 2:21 PM on October 24, 2011


It's not just mental illness or lack of money that keeps people out of housing. It's also.... credit checks! You may be flush with cash, have a job and be the sanest motherfucker on the planet but if you have bad credit good luck renting a decent flat.

Are credit checks performed in Canada? I've never had one...
posted by KokuRyu at 2:21 PM on October 24, 2011


"If you take an urban health approach, your goal is really to make people better. Housing is only a part of it,” Jang says. "Housing is not the end game."

Neil Donovan, executive director of the U.S.-based National Coalition for the Homeless, says these types of approaches to solving homelessness are promising, but worries that such a large-scale program is too dependent on top-down strategies.

Homeless, been there, done it....twice for extended periods...got away from it in the end.

These two people have it right. I also applaud the effort by Vancouver, but I really hope they continue to consider aspects other than just building low cost housing to deal with the issue. That is the real key to keeping the homeless population down.

Realistically, there will always be homeless people because there are people who simply like to live that way for whatever reason. I know many, many people who have that thought process and they are still out there. Every now and then I will bump into one and some have gotten on and are housed and others are still bedding down in parking garages or in a shelter. They have had all the opportunities that one can get for supported housing, but either have rejected it outright or tried and ended up falling into old patterns that landed them on the street again. The apartment made no difference as to whether they stayed off the streets. It was a plethora of illnesses, addictions, illnesses that caused addictions, addictions that cause illnesses, untreated illnesses without addictions that got worse and some plain old stubborness thrown in for good measure.

So in the end, it is a good start and Vancouver can build all the apartments they want. Heck, even give them away with free rent. However, it won't matter if they do not monitor the people they have placed in those units as they are highly susceptible to a homelessness relapse for all sorts of reasons.
posted by lampshade at 2:30 PM on October 24, 2011 [5 favorites]


I'd like to see, at the very least, a foreign ownership cap on speculation in real estate. There's no reason for it to be that high compared to somewhere like Victoria.

How would you implement that? A lottery each year for non-Canadians (or non-residents? or residents who've been here less than 5 years? where do you draw the line?) before they are allowed to buy property? I see a lot of challenges and potential for abuse there. Maybe a better approach is to limit the # of properties you can own that you do not actually reside in, to somewhat limit the speculation, but even that is going to be a challenge.

The (quite simple) reason that it is much higher than Victoria is that many, many more people want to live in Vancouver than in Victoria. An attractive, safe city with a pleasant climate and beautiful scenery and a decent public school system is always going to attract foreign interest. Vancouver is constantly rated as one of the best places in the world to live in, so of course people want to move there, and of course that drives up the cost of housing. If it wasn't such a great place, prices wouldn't be so high -- I'm not really sure you can (or should) do a whole lot about that.
posted by modernnomad at 2:47 PM on October 24, 2011


(also, a ban or limit on foreign ownership would never stand up to a Charter challenge -- the Charter applies to anyone in Canada, not just citizens.. you could never legally discriminate on the basis of non-citizenship and any law that attempted to do so would assuredly be struck down by the courts).
posted by modernnomad at 2:48 PM on October 24, 2011


We'll see how it goes. The big squabble here is the definition of homeless and who is actually getting housed. The last city report on the housing program for the homeless showed only a 1/3 of the housing took people from the street.

The latest Tory crime bill - which even Texas says won't work - is likely to throw more out on the street as more people become prisoners and ex-prisoners. Not the first group of people who are going to get jobs, or be in full possession of their mental faculties.

It'd be nice to have a Federal program for housing, but Harper's bunch would rather committ harikari than try something like that.
posted by Salmonberry at 2:52 PM on October 24, 2011


As far as the whole issue of locals leaving due to expenses vs salaries - it seems like there is a constant stream of people moving here owing largely to the lifestyle, only to be stunned by the fact that they're earning much less than they were elsewhere but paying out far more. I think for most companies here those incoming professionals (who you would think would do their homework) make up for those of us from here who finally throw up our hands in surrender and suck it up or bail out.
posted by Salmonberry at 2:59 PM on October 24, 2011


Are credit checks performed in Canada? I've never had one...

I can only speak from a renter's p.o.v., but again since I am currently applying for apt.s here in Vancouver - credit checks and/or bank account statements are offered, but usually as an alternative if you are unemployed/between jobs/don't want to say. I've never experienced a mandatory credit check, and I'm not sure whether it's actually legal.
posted by mannequito at 3:05 PM on October 24, 2011


Go, Vancouver, go.

The latest Tory crime bill - which even Texas says won't work -

Wait, what? When did Texas become the arbiter of what works in reducing crime?

No, just kidding. There are some sane politicians in Texas, mostly from places like Houston and Austin. But, boy, those Canadian right-wingers have picked up some of the crazy from ours.
posted by Mental Wimp at 3:06 PM on October 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


As far as the whole issue of locals leaving due to expenses vs salaries - it seems like there is a constant stream of people moving here owing largely to the lifestyle, only to be stunned by the fact that they're earning much less than they were elsewhere but paying out far more.

The challenge with Vancouver is there are very few head offices in the city that can pay the kinds of wages people need to live in Vancouver (assuming you have what it takes to live in a "head office").

The gaming/entertainment industry in Vancouver is in a slow state of implosion, life sciences already imploded, and resource industries aren't nearly what they were a generation ago. The ports provide a $20 billion injection of cash into the economy, but beyond that what do you have? A bunch of lawyers and real estate developers.
posted by KokuRyu at 3:19 PM on October 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


On topic:

I really hope that this gains traction and works as part of a holistic approach to tackling homelessness, mental illness and addiction. We know a lot about those things in Vancouver and success here would set a particularly wonderful precedent for North America if we were successful.

Off topic:

My partner and I pay $1200 for a 1 bedroom, 1100 sq foot townhouse in downtown Vancouver. It is old and kind of a hovel, but I would say that it is a decent price. Granted we are probably upper class in terms of income. I feel like we talk about affordable housing a lot in Vancouver, but can anyone actually say what "affordable" means?
posted by dobie at 3:46 PM on October 24, 2011


Are credit checks performed in Canada? I've never had one...

My impression is that more landlords are starting to do credit checks, but I don't think it's the norm yet. They are legal in this context in BC.
posted by twirlip at 3:50 PM on October 24, 2011


Are credit checks performed in Canada? I've never had one...

It's certainly common in Southern Ontario, not just for renting an apartment but also when you apply for a job.
posted by zarah at 3:55 PM on October 24, 2011


but can anyone actually say what "affordable" means?

Generally speaking, "affordable" housing means that rent or a mortgage payment should not cost more than 30% of monthly income (I can't remember if it is before tax or after tax). Median household income in Vancouver is about $67,000, so a family ought not to pay more than $1600 a month in Vancouver. For a family of 4 who rents in Vancouver, I'm not sure what $1600 buys in Vancouver, but it probably ain't much.
posted by KokuRyu at 3:59 PM on October 24, 2011


It would be trivial to implement progressive taxation on property at the municipal level without infringing on charter rights. We already have a regressive program which discriminates in favour of developers... just do the opposite of that.
posted by mek at 4:02 PM on October 24, 2011


not just for renting an apartment but also when you apply for a job.

WTF? Why would your employer need to know your credit rating?
posted by Hoopo at 4:09 PM on October 24, 2011


I don't know Hoopo, it seems really invasive and bizarre to me, but it exists and has for a while. Maybe they don't want to hire people with debt because they think that means you'll steal from them? I just don't know.
posted by zarah at 4:20 PM on October 24, 2011


I think this rumor (like the rumor of giving bus tickets to the homeless) is one founded in an earlier time when transportation was cheap.

You are completely wrong. This bugs me to no end—it's like a reverse Urban Legend, where something that's absolutely true is assumed to be false because… I don't even know—because of some false underestimation of how fucked up things really are. My wife used to work for our local Housing Authority and emergency public assistance program, and has had specific cases where individuals from out-of-state were given one-way tickets to Portland. As in, direct evidence.

At the General Assistance (G.A.) program it's an on-going joke that people will say they're here "looking for work." People from Arkansas, people from Pennsylvania, Ohio, all coming way the fuck up to cold-ass Portland, Maine, for all the awesome work opportunities. Must be all those new factories opening up. It's a joke but the joke's on us.

I happen to work a block away from one of the largest shelters in our town, and if you come out early enough when the shelters are kicking everyone out for the day, you will find a wide assortment of homeless with heavy decidedly-non-Maine accents. Literally this morning I was at work downtown and on the corner of my building (which is also right next to the main bus terminal) was a small group of homeless that had just been kicked out for the day, and one of them was giving a soap-box racist speech in a heavy southern drawl about how all the city services were being "used up" by all the "So-Ma-Lees" (we have one of the largest Somali refugee communities in the country).

This out-of-state right-wing fuck was bringing his racist values to our fucking state and using up our city services and had the gall to complain about our multi-culturalism and compassion. You want to be a racist Republican piece of shit? Fine, stay in your own fucking state. We don't need you here. But the thing is, those states don't want them either. Which is why it is so galling to hear people from places with no social service programs, with no homeless issues to speak of, talking about how it's some kind of "myth" that places with safety nets are being abused by those that don't want to pay for their own.

It really does happen. The easiest way to get rid of "the problem" is to send them somewhere else, and it causes a huge amount of strain on the local resources. We only have so many social services available, and unfortunately our neighboring towns and states don't have the same compassion towards their fellow man as we do, so they unload their problems on us.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 4:20 PM on October 24, 2011 [4 favorites]


Are they going to end homelessness the same way they handled it during the Olympics, but busing their homeless to other cities like Hamilton, ON?

This was definitely proposed by the provincial government, but evidence that it actually happened on a significant scale has been hard to come by. Homeless people were certainly displaced in other ways in the lead-up to the Games, though.
posted by twirlip at 4:37 PM on October 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Civil_Disobedient: “You are completely wrong. This bugs me to no end—it's like a reverse Urban Legend, where something that's absolutely true is assumed to be false because… I don't even know—because of some false underestimation of how fucked up things really are. My wife used to work for our local Housing Authority and emergency public assistance program, and has had specific cases where individuals from out-of-state were given one-way tickets to Portland. As in, direct evidence.”

I worked in programs with direct contact with the homeless for years. I never saw anything like that. So: yeah, a reverse urban legend, where something is assumed to be false because all I've ever heard is legends, and I have never seen direct evidence.

I guess it would be pushy of me to ask for documentary evidence, even though it would be useful to me in arguing that it's a practice that exists and needs to stop. All I can hope is that your wife gathered documentary evidence and publicized it somehow.
posted by koeselitz at 4:45 PM on October 24, 2011


Civil_Disobedient: “Which is why it is so galling to hear people from places with no social service programs, with no homeless issues to speak of, talking about how it's some kind of 'myth' that places with safety nets are being abused by those that don't want to pay for their own.”

I'm not going to get too het up about this bit, CD, but it's a bit galling to be accused of this. I'm a New Mexican. I know homeless issues. We have plenty. Hell, I know homeless people personally, people who I see on a regular basis and chat with. We have social service programs. My girlfriend is a doctor at Indian Health Services; many of her patients are homeless. I'm aware of the issues. So please don't pull this condescending stuff on me.

In fact, I wonder what city you're talking about exactly. I guess I don't know the northeast very well. Is there really some clean, shining city up there that has absolutely no homeless problems because it shipped all the annoying racist homeless people to Portland? My experience has been that every city has its homeless, that if you actually look you'll see them everywhere. Most of all, I have a hard time believing that busing out homeless people would actually be effective. Homeless people have a tendency to multiply; and at a certain point you either have to (a) set aside a large chunk of taxpayer money toward buying bus tickets for the homeless – which means doing so publicly – or (b) actually just settle in and at least pretend to tackle the problem head-on.
posted by koeselitz at 4:56 PM on October 24, 2011


Are credit checks performed in Canada? I've never had one...

It's certainly common in Southern Ontario, not just for renting an apartment but also when you apply for a job.


i live in Southern Ontario and I've never had a credit check when applying for a job -- yes they ask for your social insurance number, but that's to prove your eligibility to work in Canada, not to check your debt load. I have however had requests for credit checks when renting apartment, and though those are legal, under the Residential Tenancies Act (Ont.) they cannot legally ask you for your social insurance # (they can just try and get a credit check on you based on your name and last stated residence). Interestingly, they also cannot request payment by form of post-dated cheques, but almost nobody is aware of this rule.
posted by modernnomad at 5:08 PM on October 24, 2011


(also, a ban or limit on foreign ownership would never stand up to a Charter challenge -- the Charter applies to anyone in Canada, not just citizens.. you could never legally discriminate on the basis of non-citizenship and any law that attempted to do so would assuredly be struck down by the courts)

This is incorrect. Bans or limits on foreign ownership do not necessarily run afoul of the Charter. They might, in some cases, but it's wrong to say that "any law" that attempted to do so would be struck down. We already have limits on foreign ownership in this country (e.g. media companies).
posted by smorange at 5:25 PM on October 24, 2011


I realize my rant above may have sounded a little entitled. I realize I am one of the lucky ones. I'm still here, still working, still paying rent and still have a little left over after the bills are paid. I live in the city, so I don't need the expense of a car. My last home before my current one was exceptionally cheap, because I was trying to save money. It was a rowhouse one block off east Hastings. Between five and six of us shared this tiny 5 bedroom, splitting the $1700 rent. Homelessness, subsistence sex work, crack smoking, I saw it every day. We kicked a roommate out because she was a drug addict who brought tricks home and stole from us. We kept our bedroom doors locked when we left the house. Three of the five bedrooms were in the basement, which flooded twice in the year I lived there. There were rats in the walls, the roof leaked, the wiring was crap and the power would fail. The one of us who held the lease was working 3 minimum wage service jobs to pay off debt from a supposedly marketable degree from a good school. A few months after I moved out, everyone was evicted so the landlord could renovate. He withheld the damage deposit because he knew the tenants copy of the lease was destroyed in the flood. He did a superficial overhaul of the interior, leaving the roof, plumbing, drainage and electrical alone, and doubled the rent. I have no idea where the family of 12 Congolese refugees living next door ended up. Being francophones, I can only hope they relocated to Montreal, where working people can still afford to live.

The rentier landlords and speculators are strangling this city, and our politicians reward them because they've teamed up with the mostly boomers and gen-xers who were lucky enough to buy when housing was cheap and now think they've earned their paper millions and will vote for anyone who promises to keep property values growing at 5% over inflation forever.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 5:26 PM on October 24, 2011 [4 favorites]


You are completely wrong. This bugs me to no end—it's like a reverse Urban Legend, where something that's absolutely true is assumed to be false because… I don't even know—because of some false underestimation of how fucked up things really are. My wife used to work for our local Housing Authority and emergency public assistance program, and has had specific cases where individuals from out-of-state were given one-way tickets to Portland. As in, direct evidence.

My father, for the latter half of his career, worked for the Department of Social Services in Saskatchewan. At the time of Ralph Klein's joke, he told me that he personally had written cheques to welfare recipients to put them on a bus to BC (this was during a strike by public sector employees). He said it was standard policy across Canada for provincial welfare departments to write travel cheques to get people off their welfare rolls.
posted by fatbird at 5:40 PM on October 24, 2011


I'm aware of the issues. So please don't pull this condescending stuff on me.

Sorry, koeselitz, didn't mean to get up in your ass. But you're right, they do have a tendency to multiply. But only in places where there are services; there's simply no reason to hang around in a place that isn't offering assistance.

Is there really some clean, shining city up there that has absolutely no homeless problems because it shipped all the annoying racist homeless people to Portland?

Yeah, it's called Portsmouth, NH. They don't ship them, though, because UPS charges too much.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 5:41 PM on October 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


And as for busing, plenty of cities will offer assistance for travel fares if the person makes up any bullshit excuse. "I've got a job in [X], just need the money to get up there." No problem, here's a one-way ticket, paid for by the great people of [Y]. Hell, we do it up here in Portland. You can argue they do it out of the goodness out their heart, or you could argue they do it because it gets the people using the services out of their city. But you can't argue that it's done.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 5:48 PM on October 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


And my wife has just told me that the city no longer provides tickets "for any bullshit excuse" as I said earlier. So I stand corrected.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 6:00 PM on October 24, 2011


This is incorrect. Bans or limits on foreign ownership do not necessarily run afoul of the Charter. They might, in some cases, but it's wrong to say that "any law" that attempted to do so would be struck down. We already have limits on foreign ownership in this country (e.g. media companies).

This is because the s. 15 equality rights apply only to individuals, not persons. Corporations are, of course, 'legal persons' in Canada, and so can claim the benefit of those Charter rights which apply to "people" or "everyone"; but not those that are reserved for individuals. This is why our media laws do not presumptively violate s. 15 even though they limit foreign (corporate) ownership of certain industries, but a hypothetical law restricting individuals from purchasing property based on their national origin certainly would.
posted by modernnomad at 6:02 PM on October 24, 2011


Right, so corporations that hold land in Vancouver--and lots of land is held by companies--could be restrained without ever worrying about the Charter. Plus, I'm fairly confident that, even with a purposive analysis, if you wrote the law properly (by, for example, using residency requirements rather than citizenship, and sticking in a reasonable purpose in the preamble), you could escape s. 15 either outright or under Oakes.
posted by smorange at 7:16 PM on October 24, 2011


It's also simple to make a penalty on the basis of non-occupancy without going afoul of the Charter in a way which would significantly limit foreign ownership/investment, eg. "if the property is occupied >6mos of the year the tax rate is X, if it is occupied <6mos of the year the tax rate is Y" would allow real estate speculators to be taxed without increasing the tax on landlords (which would be passed on to tenants) or regular homeowners. It would also increase the tax burden on companies which are holding empty lots as assets, a good thing in my books.
posted by mek at 8:42 PM on October 24, 2011


(1) I think it's funny how this has switched from a discussion about homelessness in Vancouver to a discussion of how the middle class is now fucked in Vancouver. I'm guessing that there's not a lot of SRO residents on Metafilter who can add to the discussion?
(2) It IS better here than it used to be. I moved here in '94 and back then the DTES seemed like a warzone full of shuffling zombies selling stolen cheese out of their coats while combing the sidewalk for hallucinated crack rocks. I think that people hear about all the money being spent to get rid of homelessness and then drive by a bunch of people pushing shopping carts and think "What's the fucking point? There's still homeless dudes everywhere!" but it's better. There are less actual homeless people. At least that's how it looks to me.
(3) I do not know a single person (myself included) who owns in Vancouver who hasn't inherited the down payment.
(4) Hidden Homeless. The family of ten immigrants living in a two bedroom. The guys who all died in a fire in their flophouse. The single mother paying 90% of her welfare cheque on rent. The Starbucks worker sleeping in a living room (hey that was me!). Who's going to make your coffee if they can't afford to live here? Who's going to clean your office? Who's going to bag your groceries? Who's going to cook your food? Who's going to pump your gas? Who's going to take care of your brats? I don't mean to be all #OWS but what are things going to be like in 5 years? Ten years?
(5) I wish I loved Vancouver but I don't. It's just where I live.
posted by monkeymike at 8:56 PM on October 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


The (quite simple) reason that it is much higher than Victoria is that many, many more people want to live in Vancouver than in Victoria.

They are crazy. Victoria is stunningly beautiful - and, if anything, has better weather than Vancouver (being on the slightly drier side of the island). I would live in Victoria in a flash - I adore Vancouver Island (a tiny microcosm of BC - mountains and valleys and ocean - all it's missing is the desert).

But Vancouver? Crowded and dirty - it makes even Toronto look quaint and pretty. I liked the neighbourhood down by Stanley Park, but the rest was like the worst bits of Toronto, only with more drugs - or like the worst bits of Mississauga, only even more pedestrian-unfriendly. Unless Downtown and East Hastings have been substantially cleaned up since c1997, and Port Coquilam has bus service past 6pm.
posted by jb at 9:04 PM on October 24, 2011


(2) It IS better here than it used to be.
(4) Hidden Homeless. The family of ten immigrants living in a two bedroom. The guys who all died in a fire in their flophouse.


"Better". And yes, you're right, the wage slavery has a lot to do with it. Real wages haven't increased in decades, but the cost of living sure as hell has.
posted by mek at 9:07 PM on October 24, 2011


Also, I don't know who voted Vancouver as the most liveable city in the world, but they clearly had never lived in Cambridge, UK, or just outside of it. Okay, the rents are a bit stupid and the housing prices worse - but still not as bad as Vancouver, and you can live in a little village outside for less, and it's a wonderful walkable and cyclable city with parks and really very good schools (half the kids have professors or researchers for parents). It's all the best bits of a city, only in the countryside - and there are COWS in the middle of downtown.
posted by jb at 9:12 PM on October 24, 2011


(2) It IS better here than it used to be. I moved here in '94 and back then the DTES seemed like a warzone...

Agreed. Main & Hastings at 8am back then made me glad to be on a bus in a way very few neighbourhoods have. From the reforms to the nightmare SRO hotels to Insite to these type of housing initiatives Vancouver has made pretty good progress in improving the lot of the DTES inhabitants.

(and I have no idea why anyone would take either Victoria or Toronto over Vancouver. Madness, I say)
posted by N-stoff at 9:25 PM on October 24, 2011


There are still neighbourhoods in Vancouver with a maximum building height of 2 storeys. I think that any place within a 10-minute walk of frequent transit (and that's almost all of Vancouver) should have height and density limits removed. I'm not arguing for a minimum density - I'm saying build what you think you can rent out or sell, 19th-century style. That would shake things up. Land prices would rise in some places, but drop in most others - no bonus for being downtown with no height limits, or being on a street that allows duplexes. There would be less pressure to build "luxury" condo units in the few places you can actually build a condo. I think prices per housing unit would drop significantly.
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 9:46 PM on October 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


When I lived in Ontario one summer, a couple of the other students I was working with applied for welfare when our summer jobs ran out. Then they told social services they had family they could stay with in Vancouver. Social services didn't want them on their payrolls, so they gave them tickets. However, they got this idea from other students who had used it to go home to Nfld and Quebec. I was told this was the easy way to get home.
posted by Chaussette and the Pussy Cats at 10:21 PM on October 24, 2011


(and I have no idea why anyone would take either Victoria or Toronto over Vancouver. Madness, I say)

Wha? How can you even put Toronto and Victoria in the same sentence? There's no comparison. Anyway, Victoria is a great place to raise a family. There's no driving forever and ever to get someplace, because the entire town is basically a giant park, surrounded on three sides by public beaches.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:37 PM on October 24, 2011


But Vancouver? Crowded and dirty - it makes even Toronto look quaint and pretty.

Parts of Toronto are pretty, and many of the older parts are quaint. And Vancouver is not particularly dirty, or crowded for that matter even by Canadian standards. I'd be curious to know where exactly you were in these cities.
posted by Hoopo at 11:15 PM on October 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Vancouver crowded? Maybe Chinatown could hit the minimum requirement for 'crowded' on a busy Saturday, or maybe if you were living in the middle of Davie Street during Pride Week...other than that my twenty years of living in pretty much every area of the city have not once made me think the joint was inherently crowded.

As for dirty, sure the DTES has got some pretty stanky alleys but the movie folks still have to bring in extra garbage to strew around to make the streets look like those of urban American cities. Victoria is ok if quaintness, scones, and over-65 discounts give you wood; otherwise, meh.
posted by moneyjane at 12:25 AM on October 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's brain-dead that little of this has happened in North America. BRAVO!!! to Vancouver for recognizing the ONLY viable choice and going with it.

Not just the homeless need sensible, affordable housing. For far too long almost all (expensive, wasteful) options have catered to the (disappearing) middle class. Time for the Return of the Cottage.
posted by Twang at 12:26 AM on October 25, 2011


Kudos to Vancouver for trying to do something about the problem and trying to help those that need it most. I hope it works and proves to be a model for other cities.

The escalating property prices are an issue for most of our friends there. Friend of mine just bought his one bedroom condo downtown, his first place and he's 40 years old. We got our apartment in 2002 just before the market went nuts, but the down payment still took our savings and 3 years on instant noodles to get (no parental bailout here).

Vancouver is a wonderful city and for those that think it's worse than 15 years ago, I'd recommend getting out of the lower mainland and see other equivalent sized cities around the world to gain some perspective.

I like Victoria, but I love Vancouver (I reserve the right to change my mind when I retire and want a lawn for the kids to get off).
posted by arcticseal at 1:18 AM on October 25, 2011


Why would your employer need to know your credit rating?

Ostensibly it's to see if you're a responsible person. If you're in a position that handles money, they want to know if you have a lot of debts and are at risk of stealing money to pay for them. I would hope they consider more than just a raw score (for example, if the debts are student loans), but in this economy they'll weed out applicants for any possible reason or no reason at all. It's totally legal in the US as far as I know - only race, religion, gender and nationality are protected at the federal level; some states have other protected classes.

My partner and I pay $1200 for a 1 bedroom, 1100 sq foot townhouse in downtown Vancouver.

That's much better than I would have thought. We pay $1200 for a 3 bedroom duplex a few miles south of downtown Milwaukee, and it's only slightly more square feet.
posted by desjardins at 8:12 AM on October 25, 2011


One of the best affordable housing strategies is the co-op. Thanks to government support, a number were built in the mid 1980s to house folks of all types and incomes. They will continue to protect non-private-home-owners from the unreal estate madness in Vancouver for decades to come, knock on wood. Unfortunately, the government has since pretty much abandoned the strategy, so new co-ops are as rare as teeth on a backyard chicken.
posted by ecourbanist at 9:18 AM on October 25, 2011


We need to get to the people at risk of becoming homeless before they end up on the street. Providing for those in need of emergency shelter is one thing, but providing the kinds of social, financial, and mental health services needed by those at risk is another. The answer isn't just about building condos and zoning, no matter how cheap or subsidized they are. The City of Vancouver, surrounding Cities, Communities, and the Province have to take a larger look at the issue of homelessness across the whole spectrum of causes and reasons for people becoming homeless.
posted by jade east at 11:23 AM on October 25, 2011


Parts of Toronto are pretty, and many of the older parts are quaint. And Vancouver is not particularly dirty, or crowded for that matter even by Canadian standards. I'd be curious to know where exactly you were in these cities.
posted by Hoopo at 2:15 AM on October 25 [1 favorite +] [!]


I was at East Hastings and Main - but I'm comparing it to Toronto's equivalent(s). I realise that it's probably been cleaned up since I was there in c1997. I was also in the Stanley Park (West End?) area, and it was nice, but no nicer than Church & Wellesley or the Annex. So I don't really get the Vancouver rules thing - I always supposed that all the easterners/central Canadians who moved there had to mentally downgrade back home to justify their move to themselves.

Crowded probably isn't the right word, but I really felt like Vancouver was much more hemmed in and you had to go farther to get anywhere - maybe because the mountain Simon Fraser is on takes up so much space, and the low density there is elsewhere. It wasn't crowded like NYC or London (way too many people), but it felt cramped and certainly was very dirty at the time.

Whereas Victoria was so very pretty, and the surrounding countryside is some of the nicest in Canada. I think it's near the top of my fantasy "if I could magically have a job and live anywhere in Canada" list - along with Halifax. Or maybe (in my really city-hating moments) even Port McNeil (tiny, but beyond pretty into stunningly beautiful. Do they have broadband yet?).
posted by jb at 2:36 PM on October 25, 2011


One of the best affordable housing strategies is the co-op. Thanks to government support, a number were built in the mid 1980s to house folks of all types and incomes. They will continue to protect non-private-home-owners from the unreal estate madness in Vancouver for decades to come, knock on wood. Unfortunately, the government has since pretty much abandoned the strategy, so new co-ops are as rare as teeth on a backyard chicken.
posted by ecourbanist at 12:18 PM on October 25 [+] [!]


Another good reason for co-ops: you have more functional communities, even with high levels of poverty, and much more sense of involvement and "ownership" in keeping the building(s) and community clean and well-maintained.

Anyone who has lived in government-run subsidized housing can tell you that the residents often feel extremely alienated from their living space - and this shows in the way that they don't work to maintain it. It's partly because they feel no ownership, like they have no power in the space. But also because the maintenance is so bad to begin with and the way the management treats the residents can be so very disrespectful.
posted by jb at 2:41 PM on October 25, 2011


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