In their annual Housing and Homelessness Report Card, the City of Vancouver reports that 1,683 units of new social housing are in development or have been built since 2012. Yet based on research by the authors, under 6% of the new social housing is guaranteed for people on welfare. The vast majority of Vancouver’s “social housing”, therefore, will be unavailable for the 1,847 people reported as homeless in Vancouver this year, the highest number since counts began.
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April of this year marks nine years since welfare rates – still frozen at $610 a month for a single person – have gone up. Although the provincial government plans to increase disability rates by $77 a month in September, they also plan to begin charging people who receive the disability pension $669 a year for a bus pass that they now get for $45 a year. This means giving with one hand and taking with the other, and the decision has enraged the many people trying to get by on meagre benefits across this province.
Transit prices are unaffordable for an increasing number of people in British Columbia. But they’re especially costly for recipients of social assistance, who today receive only $375 for housing and $235 for “everything else,” including groceries, bus fare, clothing, emergencies, and otherwise. The expectation is for recipients to budget (somehow) for transit costs, despite their low income. For those receiving welfare, a $2.75 bus ticket is a big deal. I’d like to put this in perspective.
This weekend Cafe Rebelde will be hosting The Struggle For the Land, an event that combines a photo exhibit, food, community theatre, followed by a discussion about the intersection of food sovereignty, global land struggle, and state repression. On this occasion we are publishing a new piece by Aiyanas Ormond, an organizer of the event.
As part of a wave of anti-pipeline actions across BC this week, Burnaby Residents Opposing Kinder Morgan Expansion (BROKE) organized a march and rally on Tuesday outside the Delta Burnaby Hotel and Conference Centre. Inside the hotel the National Energy Board (NEB) continued its review of Texas-based oil-giant Kinder Morgan’s proposed expansion of the Trans-Mountain pipeline.
The main thing I would like to do today is to concentrate on the question of where the history of racial scapegoating in Vancouver originated. To do that it’s important to begin from the beginning. One thing that I find helpful in these conversations is to think about the question, “Who belongs here?” – “here” meaning where we are in Vancouver, but also in Canada in general. Many of you have probably heard that Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the United States are settler colonies that were built around white supremacy as a way determining who does and does not belong.