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BCGEU statement on the ongoing decampment of unhoused people on Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside (DTES) - BC General Employees' Union (BCGEU)

The City of Vancouver's ongoing forced, mass decampment of unhoused people in the Downtown Eastside (DTES) without alternative supportive housing in place is unnecessary and a violation of human rights. 


Since last week, Vancouver police and city staff have been actively dismantling tents, throwing out belongings and forcibly removing unhoused people from structures along Hastings Street in Vancouver. 


Hundreds of BCGEU members work in supportive housing and other support services in the DTES, including Atira Property Management, Lookout Housing and Health, RainCity Housing and the Downtown Eastside Women's Centre. The ongoing decampment has meant that many residents are not able to access services such as safe injection sites, community health services and supportive housing. 


Supportive housing centres and shelters are reporting that they are beyond capacity and the availability of accessible housing is at crisis levels. Many SROs (single-room occupancy hotels) have poor living conditions and they often violate health and safety codes. For example, last year alone there were hundreds of fires and five deaths in the DTES, all of which occurred in SROs. Residents of the DTES often feel safer living on the street because of this.


The BCGEU is calling for the expropriation of all unsafe SROs to be renovated and made liveable. In the meantime, the City of Vancouver must address the immediate need for adequate shelter by designating an area for people to shelter or tent in while housing is being built.