Harm Reduction and Homelessness Funding Audit
Please sign our petition calling for an audit of all government funds to address harm reduction and homeless challenges in the Downtown Eastside and BC. We need solutions that work for everyone. (Scroll to bottom for petition if on mobile device.)
- Allowing homeless camping in public parks is not a solution. Tent cities, in Strathcona Park are growing larger, rendering the park unusable for much of the general public. Families with children report the park is strewn with needles while local residents say park board staff won’t enforce the 7am homeless camper departure bylaw.
- Recent BC government purchases of hotels for the homeless have driven up community rates of crime, violence, property damage and public defecation for nearby residents and businesses.
- Yaletown residents faced a 400 per cent increase in crime reports…when Oppenheimer Park campers moved into hotel spaces.
- Meanwhile, billions of dollars of compassionate taxpayer funds have flowed into the Downtown Eastside and throughout BC over the years, supporting various social experiments like harm reduction, but the situation continues to deteriorate. Homelessness has risen, given 44% of the homeless population comes from outside BC.
- This year, City of Vancouver taxpayers got hit with an oversized 7% property tax increase, some of which funds the growing addiction and housing issues in the downtown eastside, formerly the purview of more senior governments.
Silos, duplication, waste, little oversight of government funds
- A previous BC Government 2014 audit found egregious expenses of public taxpayers' and private funds by the Portland Hotel Society staff and directors, forcing resignations. Cruise vacations, limo rides and even trips to Disneyland were billed!
- A 2014 Vancouver Sun article identified as many as 259 non-profit agencies providing services and housing in the downtown eastside. More oversight and review of effectiveness of taxpayer monies are required.
- A subsequent 2016 research study by Simon Fraser University Health Science Researcher, Dr. Julian Somers, an expert in substance abuse, mental health and homelessness, advised that “despite the enormous investment of public monies there was no evidence of improvement.” Somer said part of the problem was the 260 social service agencies that have proliferated in the DTES. It is a “patchwork without oversight or a single guiding hand to coordinate services for the most needy.”
A March 2020 audit of Alberta's harm reduction facilities found a "system of chaos" and financial irregularities. Police are now investigating.
Please make your voice heard by signing our petition, sharing this on social media or supporting StepUp. Thank you.