Vancouver BC, October 15th 2014

Province’s Sale of Family and Seniors’ Housing in Downtown Eastside Opposed by Residents

BC Housing marks Homelessness Action Week by selling off one of the largest public housing projects in Vancouver, jeopardizing housing for over a thousand children, families and seniors.
Residents of the Stamps Place social housing complex in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside/Strathcona neighbourhood were shocked to find out, late on October 3rd, that BC Housing was putting their homes up for sale.

“We found envelopes under our doors marked URGENT and saying that BC Housing would no longer be running our housing. I don’t think most people living here even know what this means.” said one resident, a parent of two.
The Ray-Cam Co-operative Centre, also located on the BC Housing land, received no notice at all from BC Housing despite being potentially affected by the sale. Upon investigation, it was learned that the Provincial government plans to turn over this public land and the housing to a non-profit housing agency to allow them “the opportunity to leverage these assets to ensure the long-term viability and capital renewal of their current rental stock.” The closing date for this tender is November 3rd — an incredibly short timeline that has made many residents suspicious and afraid.
“They must know who they want to buy this housing. We are scared this will mean our housing will go downhill — more people with issues moving in next to families and seniors. We are already struggling. How is a non-profit going to replace these buildings? They are falling apart!”
Stamps Place is the only family-oriented social housing complex in Vancouver’s inner city. At a time when the city is struggling to find solutions to house low-income families and seniors — and during Homelessness Action Week — the provincial action is confounding. The province’s Families First agenda would indicate that they should continue to support vulnerable families in Canada’s poorest postal code. Instead they are getting rid of a public asset — Federal lands which had been transferred to the Province in the last decade — without involving the residents and community affected.
The living room of the community, Ray-Cam Co-operative Centre was established by the ‘Militant Mothers of Raymur’ as a food coop and safe place for their children to play. There remains an extremely strong link between the Centre and Stamps residents – a link which may be jeopardized by this sale. The social housing includes many urban Aboriginal and newcomer families, and is all low income. Ray-Cam includes childcare, program space, food programs, a gym, computer lab and a variety of multiple use areas. A Federal/Provincial/Municipal cost sharing and land use agreement signed in 1974 covers the financing of construction, ongoing maintenance and key areas of management and operations for the Centre. The land on which the Centre sits was provided as an amenity for the community in perpetuity as part of the agreement.
“We had no notice that this was going to happen. BC Housing is a key partner and we would expect with something this monumental, that there would be a community process. That Ray-Cam and residents and community organizations would come together with the federal, provincial and municipal partners and create a plan. That takes time. And this tender closes November 3rd” said Marilyn McKee, President of Ray-Cam Co-operative Centre’s Board of Directors. “At least at Little Mountain, residents had notice of what was going to happen.”
Residents are organizing to put a halt to the current tender. They don’t want to see another disaster like Little Mountain happen here.
“We want to stop the tender for now to give the community time to work through a thorough decision-making process. BC Housing currently calls for community meetings only after a new provider is chosen. What happened to the City- sponsored Local Area Planning Process we just finished? We need support for retention and renewal of family housing at Stamps Place”
The ‘Militant Mothers of Raymur’ had to take to the streets in 1971 to protect the safety and future of their children. The residents of Raymur will act now to protect their homes and community. There will be community meetings October 22nd and October 25th at Ray-Cam Centre to organize and inform residents.
For more information contact:
Marilyn McKee
President, Ray-Cam Co-operative Centre Board of Directors
Judy McGuire
Ray-Cam Co-operative Centre Board of Directors
604-257-6949 or 604-889-8430