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City continues efforts to find housing for homeless campers in Oppenheimer Park

October 8 2014

Vancouver City Hall

Following the decision of the BC Supreme Court this afternoon, the City of Vancouver will continue its efforts to assist those in the Park who are homeless to access available shelter and housing options ahead of the October 15, 10:00pm deadline imposed by the court.

City staff are available to assist with the relocation of people in the park

For those in Oppenheimer Park who wish to move to the shelter spaces now available, Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services (VFRS), Parks, Engineering, and City Housing outreach staff will be at the park to assist with relocation of people and their belongings. The City hopes to count on the cooperation of camp residents to ensure that this transition period results in a safe and peaceful resolution.

To date, BC Housing and City outreach staff have placed 56 homeless campers from the park into existing housing options. The Carnegie Outreach Team is actively working with 23 more people and has collected working information to assist another 34 individuals.

The Vancouver Police Department (VPD), VFRS, and Park staff will continue to monitor the park on an ongoing basis to ensure the health and safety situation in the park does not deteriorate any further. 

New shelter spaces

In recent weeks, over 100 new shelter spaces have been opened at 900 Pacific, Union Gospel Mission and the Salvation Army to provide a safe place for those in the park to sleep. A move to a shelter is a first and important step in stabilizing individuals and connecting them with supports before they move directly into housing. Over the past six years, approximately 500 people who were homeless have transitioned through the emergency shelters into permanent housing.

This is in addition to the work that continues with BC Housing on our shared homelessness initiative. Since March 2014, approximately 200 homeless individuals in the city have been housed in supportive housing and interim housing facilities.

Over the coming weeks, three new supportive housing sites, Broadway and Fraser and 111 Princess both opening in mid-October and Taylor Manor opening in December, will provide a further 249 units to accommodate homeless individuals, along with much needed health support. In early November an extra 157 units of interim housing will also come on line at the former Quality Inn at 1335 Howe Street. All of this additional capacity will ensure that those who are street homeless can have access to shelter, interim, or permanent housing over the coming months.

Oppenheimer Park event timeline

  • July 19 – Campers begin to set up at Oppenheimer Park
  • July 25 – City serves campers with an eviction notice due to violation of Park bylaws that prohibit camping in city parks
  • August 1 – Fire Chief’s Order is given to campers for the removal of fire hazards
  • September 3 – A second Fire Chief’s Order is given to campers due to the increasing number of fire hazards at the park
  • September 23 – City announces the opening of 70 new shelter spaces at 900 Pacific Street and Union Gospel Mission for those who are homeless and camping in the park
  • September 24 – City announces the opening of 157 new interim housing units at 1335 Howe Street that will be available to those in the park who are homeless in early November
  • September 25 – City files materials in support of an application in BC Supreme Court for an injunction in order to begin the dismantling of the camp at Oppenheimer Park
  • September 30 – Judge orders that the application for the injunction be adjourned until October 6, in the meantime campers were ordered to comply with the Fire Chief’s Order – numerous infractions continue to occur on a daily basis
  • October 3 – BC Housing provides funding to add a further 30 shelter spaces at the Salvation Army site at the Harbour Light facility (The Beacon)

Past meetings and outreach

  • Senior City staff formally met with various leaders of the camp more than 10 times to discuss their issues and try to reach a solution; this is in addition to VPD, VFRS, and Park staff who have engaged with people in the camp on a daily basis as part of their 24/7 monitoring activities in the park. 
  • BC Housing and City outreach staff have placed 56 homeless campers from the park into existing housing options. The Carnegie Outreach Team is actively working with 23 more people (their files are at various stages) and have collected working information to assist another 34 individuals.

Upcoming housing

  • 193 new permanent supported housing units targeted at street and sheltered homeless being completed in October 2014 by the province
  • 157 rooms of interim housing at the Quality Inn on a lease secured by the City will be available in November 2014
  • 56 units of supportive housing at Taylor Manor (a City facility) will be available in December 2014

Find out how we are trying to end street homelessness by 2015