British Columbia

Homelessness in Vancouver could triple by 2010: report

Vancouver faces an imminent low-income housing crisis unless all levels of government take urgent action, says a new report by a Downtown Eastside legal advocacy group.

Vancouver faces an imminent low-income housing crisis unless all levels of government take urgent action, says a new report by a Downtown Eastside legal advocacy group.

The Pivot Legal Society's report released Thursday warns that if nothing is done, the number of homeless peopleonthe streets will triple by 2010 whenVancouver hosts the Winter Olympics.

The report says the number of low-cost housing units in the city is dwindling, while demand grows.

It calls on governments tocommit to spending themoneyneeded to build 800 social housing units annually for the next four years.

Pivot lawyer David Eby says there is an economic argument for building more low-income housing.

"We'd actually be saving a significant amount of money if we simply house these people due to the cost of providing emergency services, that kind of thing," he said.

"And we aren't even counting the lost tourism dollars, the lost convention dollars that are increasingly making the news"

The report also points out thatone of the causes of homelessness is the fact that the welfare shelter rate of $325 a month has not been increased in 12 years.

Pivot says welfare rates needto be raised to reflect the actual cost of shelter in Vancouver.

The group alsocalls for vigilant enforcement of bylaws to maintain the current stock of low-income housing.

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