19 December 2008

Vancouver Homeless Fix: About damn time!

The solution? Less than aesthetically-pleasing, 'temporary' housing intended to deal with the immediate situation. Not that similar ideas haven't been promoted for decades by those at risk of homelessness and homeless people. But of course, no one ever listens to us, the real experts on what will and won't work.

A plan to house Vancouver's homeless is taking shape on the drawing board of a local architect. It calls for the rapid erection of temporary villages assembled from the same type of modular units that mining companies provide for remote workers.

"Stop Gap Housing" is what architect Gregory Henriquez calls it...

"It's portable dwellings. It's not meant to be a permanent fixture on the landscape. But it could serve for several years until we complete the construction of permanent housing," he said...

It's also cheaper... this sort of housing would save B.C. taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars a year in police, ambulance, and health expenses...

Henriquez took plans from Britco Structures, which operates plants in Agassiz and Penticton, and showed them to managers from the Portland Hotel Society, which rents to hundreds of the Downtown Eastside's hardest-to-house individuals.

The Portland team suggested that individual units - with ensuite bathrooms and fronts that open directly to the outdoors - would be more acceptable to individuals not accustomed to coping with neighbors, as well as to those reluctant to give up pets or bicycles.

Pets! People who have been homeless would be 'allowed' to keep their animal companions! It's about damn time.

If this actually gets done in Vancouver, I would hope the project would spread to other parts of the province.

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