Monday, February 12, 2007

Countdown clock to Olympic homelessness unveiled

Wendy Pederson is no slouch as an organizer. The thirty-something mother of two, with flaming red hair, has previously organized everything on the Downtown Eastside from the Whitecaps Stadium to a Block Party outside her Downtown Eastside apartment for the entire neighbourhood. From a family of gill netters – Pederson Hill in Surrey is named after her family – Pederson is now organizing on behalf of Vancouver’s homeless.

Pederson and a group of about 50 demonstrators shadowed Premier Gordon Campbell on the lawn of the Vancouver Art Gallery this afternoon as he unveiled a giant clock to countdown to the Olympics just three years away. Pederson and her crew unveiled their own hand-made clock on the lawn, a clock for the “Countdown to Olympic Homelessness”.

The clock identifies the year 2010 as “Doomsday”, a time when homelessness will have tripled since 2006.

Pederson was recently hired as an organizer against homelessness by the Carnegie Community Action Project at Main & Hastings. Indeed many of the people who showed up at today’s demonstration are familiar faces from the Carnegie Community Centre.

Today, Pederson not only took a political approach to the issue of homelessness but a spiritual one. Developers are driven by “a factor of greed”, she explained, and promised repeatedly that developers and politicians would experience “true happiness and love” if they housed the homeless.

But Pederson wasn't without concrete steps for achieving this true happiness and love. "We need legislation from the city to protect the existing housing" from being converted to condos which are unaffordable to low income people, she says. She also wants a committment from the federal and provincial governments to fund more low income housing. And she wants welfare rates jacked up.

Of course not everyone agrees with such taxpayer-funded meddling in the free market. The opposition was summed up by a recent caller to the Bill Good radio show who challenged anti-homlessness advocates: he pointed out that most working people can’t afford to live in Downtown Vancouver, so it didn’t make sense to him for government to provide apartments in that core for people on welfare.

But the left-leaning Carnegie Community Action Project and their supporters are, Pederson believes, “on the logical high ground”. What's more, Pederson is not without a plan. She figures if she can get 20 people to each organize 20 more people to work for action on homelessness, she’ll be rolling.

[This posting may be updated as Mayor Sullivan has been asked to respond to claims made by Wendy Pederson.]

5 comments:

Vikrim said...

To Anti-Poverty Committee - PICK UP A HAMMER!

No not to vandalize private and public property or threaten your flavour of the month anti-Christ, but to get a job! I know it sounds over-simplified and callous, but there is a basic truth to be realized here. For example: I was at the 2010 Countdown Clock unveiling yesterday and witnessed the absolute disgusting behavior of the anti-poverty protesters. Aside from their total ignorance regarding what VANOC is actually DOING about homelessness in Vancouver, and the fact they were endangering the public by bringing weapons, they were simply just disrespectful and did absolutely NOTHING to advance their cause. All that said, while I listened and watched these idiots chant and shove it occurred to me that if they spent as much energy as they do protesting and throwing rocks at innocent people as they could learning how to, hmmm I don't know, use a hammer, they could probably get a job with said Olympics. I then did a little digging and found out that VANOC has a program in place working with organizations to help downtown eastside residents get jobs with all the construction work slated in the next 3 years. They also have several programs in place to provide low-cost housing after the games are completed - housing that would have never been there if the Olympics didn't happen (so no, you wouldn't have gotten the taxpayer money that went to 2010 anyway morons!). For example: The city has already set aside land to be used for low-cost housing but is currently negotiating with the Province and Feds to provide the actual housing. With that, the Olympics are bringing in these temporary and portable facilities to house media and the like in Squamish during the games. When the games are done they are donating all that housing to be used on said land. Again - would not have happened without the Olympics! And there are plenty of other "legacy" programs they've initiated to work with first nations and battered women etc, and they have the highest standards in terms of their sustainability policies both internally and externally. Clearly the folks down at the Anti-Poverty Committee either aren't informed or simply choose to ignore facts.

Now note: I know the homeless situation goes way beyond simply providing jobs to people. But I'm not talking about the mentally ill or addicts who need proper social programs, I'm talking about able-bodied young people who are clearly strong enough to throw rocks, fight with police or for that matter pick-up a squeegy! Across the country (and particularly out west) the biggest topic among companies is a shortage of labour - both white collar and blue collar, yet there are no doubt thousands of people who choose to dismiss society and refuse to work. And from what I can see (and I've lived in downtown Vancouver for 10 years) these are the same people leading the charge at protests. These aren't people with a structured opinion on the state of the world. They don't give a rat's ass about reason or logic - they are professional anarchists who will pick-up any cause as long as it gives them an excuse to disrupt the public. It's no different than gang warfare, and they are either part of or in league with the Anti-Poverty Committee. Tell me how this advances your cause? Seriously. Use whatever shred of reason you have left in your ignorant brains and explain to me how anarchy gets your message across.

I'm sick and tired of this minority of people whose sole purpose in life is to create anarchy. If the world was perfect they would still find something to protest against. The point is - they are sheep. They have neither the capacity nor the will to think before acting. They follow a cause with blind faith because it gives them a sense of purpose and belonging, regardless of whether it's right or wrong. I'm sick of these people that put a stain on our city. It's time for the silent majority to stand-up and make these people accountable for their actions. Don’t just listen to the people that scream the loudest to help form your opinion. There are lots of things going on in the world, including the corporate world, that are doing their part to help society. The problem is these anti-poverty people will never work with them because they are their sworn enemies. It’s a self fulfilling prophecy and they will be irrelevant at the end of the day. Good riddance when that day comes!

reliable sources said...

Vikrim,

You've made a mistake. The individuals covered in my article, "Countdown Clock to Olympic Homeless", are not with the Anti-Poverty Committee. Wendy Pederson and others with her at the demonstration are with the Carnegie Community Action Project.

I can't speak for Pederson and Carnegie but I hear low income people at the Carnegie Centre and on the Downtown Eastside saying that they want to distance themselves from the tactics used by the Anti-Poverty Committee. I believe the DTES Women's Centre recently stated publicly that they had nothing to do with the Anti-Poverty Committee; that was after the Anti-Poverty Committee showed up at a demonstration at the Vancouver Public Library and fought with a police officer.

Aside from this case of mistaken identity, your comment was informative. You provided information about what's happening with low income housing, information that I had specifically asked Mayor Sullivan's office to provide for the article – so that I could provide a counterbalance to Wendy Pederson's statements. The Mayor's office didn't get back to me.

dag said...

Why is it that the more the socialists get their hands on tax-payer money to alleviate social problems the worse the social problems get?

Why is it that the more we fret about homophobia and racism the more of it there seems to be to the point it's "systemic" rather than better than it was in the 50s?

And now we have to worry about "global warming." Or is it now "climate change"? If wee give more money to the socialist to "fix" that, what mess will they make of our lives?

I think it's time we come back to reality and think like adults. Some people will live in lower class places because they haven't got the skills or abilities to afford better digs. That's life. Let people live where they can afford. All housing is affordable if one has the money to pay, so the cliche of "affordable" housing means nothing. Let people live where the rent is cheap, perhaps in the Yukon. It's an adult world, and baby-sitters like the one above, Pederson, should mind their own rather than street people who are continuously worse off for all the social activism of these Left fascists. Life is for real, not some fantasy for tax-payer funded goofs who want to pose on television. Let them live where they can afford to live. If they work for money they can live where they have the cash to pay for it like the rest of us.

No more sympathy for these professional whiners and poseurs. Screw them. It's worn right through. The game is up.

Anonymous said...

It is a complete and utter waste of time talking about, and spending money on the homeless. It's like toilet paper, instead of treating a contaminated water supply. And with the specter of rising inflation and interest rates, or the possibly a deflationary housing cycle, there may soon be a lot more people looking for toilet paper subsidies in the not too distant future.

Homeless is a word that evokes fear and hatred amongst the rich and poor, but for different reasons. What it does not do is come close to describing the disparate group of people who are without a home. In our society, there are a relatively small number of people who are without a home; some of those have psychological problems and do need care, but most are simply destitute and poorly educated.

As it is now, the Provincial and Federal governments would rather support a "homeless" person for life, than provide them with a path to a more productive and fulfilling life. Education, mentoring, and opportunity are all that's missing. NOBODY living on the streets wants to be there.

This is why the homeless label hurts everyone, it keeps the public fearful and ignorant, and does nothing for those that need help.

Be realistic, would you take a chance on hiring a homeless person who might be a drug addict or maybe a person with a history of mental illness or violent behaviour? Of course not. But because of the broad-brush homeless label, very few companies are willing to take a chance on good, but impoverished people who want nothing more than to become productive Canadians.

Take a walk through the East side of Vancouver, and look into people's eye's. the homeless have a look about them that is unmistakable. That look is the result of the precarious and impoverished world in which they live. It's almost impossible to maintain or build a healthy self-image when, on a daily basis you must grovel for food, clothing and shelter. And I don't want you to take my word for this. In fact, i beg you try something quite remarkable, that you will never forget: Try homelessness for yourself, it will touch your soul and you will learn some remarkable things about yourself. You will expand your capacity for love and appreciation.

How would you try homelessness? Easy, here are my five suggestions for having your very own Homeless Holiday.

1, Clothing - it is essential that you look the part, so drop by one of the free clothing stores. You will love the variety and color of your new "old" duds and you can donate your clothes on the same visit. believe me, at this point you will look homeless and feel oddly out of place in someone else's shoes, shirt and underwear.

2. Money - good news here, you don't need any so leave your wallet at home. in fact, you won't be needing money, cheques, credit cards, laptop, cell phone or anything else of value.

3. Food - no problem here either. Any homeless person worth their salt knows several places to get free food, so just ask anyone with that homeless look about them. Some free meals even come with a prayer service, and it's the perfect opportunity to meet your homeless brothers and sisters. Don't forget, this is for your benefit so talk with lots of people, see if you can spot the drug dealers and people with a variety of unusual and debilitating medical conditions.

4. Shelter - this is a little trickier because shelters are often full, and frequently have inconvenient rules, like throwing you back out on the street at 6:00AM. If you can't get a mat to sleep on in a shelter, then there are plenty of doorways and dark moist places where you can spend the night. Your natural shivering response will be useful here and should keep from dying from hypothermia.

5. A Job - you are on holiday so when you are not looking for food, shelter or trying to keep warm, you can go job

hunting; without a home address, phone number, or any money to take a bus or transit. You walk everywhere, and with your cap in hand discover what people really think of the homeless working for them.

I promise you, after a week or two of being homeless you will develop a wholesome new appreciation for your homeless friends and what it really means to be homeless.

Good luck and please be generous in sharing your homeless experiences with your family, community and politicians. Ignorance of a problem is no excuse for making bad laws and wasting people's money.

Cheers, Gordon Parnell

Anonymous said...

Am an artist and musician, was born here and lived here nearly my whole life. Have seen this city going downhill for a long time. Number one problem I have seen is complete corruption from the Provincial Govt to the police. Just got the Olympic eviction notice (never been late on rent), and looking around there is now NOTHING we can afford.
I am paying for an event that I won't be able to afford and that is driving me out of my home, my hometown and indeed it seems my home province. I pay my taxes, which gives me the right to be homeless now. What am I and my friends supposed to do? Nobody is even considering all the everyday people 1 paycheck away, or who have not got their eviction notice yet. Or all the couch surfers unable to find a place. I'm 40 years old I shouldn't have to live with my girlfriend and five other strangers just to scrape by. Guess I could bug my mla however he changed sides right after I helped vote him in( shouldn't that be illegal? Isn't it?)