City committed to ensuring safe and stable accommodation for people experiencing homelessness in Oppenheimer Park
This morning, the General Manager of the Park Board provided notice PDF file (1.4 MB) to people who have erected tents and other structures in Oppenheimer Park that they must remove all structures by 6pm on Wednesday, August 21.
At the request of the City, BC Housing has identified more than 100 units of safe and stable accommodation for people experiencing homelessness who have been sleeping overnight in the park and who have engaged with the City’s Homeless Outreach team (Carnegie Outreach) seeking housing assistance. All of the housing options are in publicly owned and non-profit run buildings, including SRO rooms, many of which have been recently renovated. A number of shelter spaces are also available as an option for individuals to come inside while suitable housing is identified.
The General Manager’s order was issued in response to ongoing concerns about the serious health and life safety risks present in the park, and in light of housing options being secured for those living there.
Fire Chief’s order
The City, Park Board, and Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services (VFRS) have been working in the park for many months to support individuals experiencing homelessness. A Fire Chief’s order has been in place since February which sets out a number of conditions to reduce the fire hazard for people living in the park, but compliance with that order has been limited. There have been 17 fires in the park since February. VPD has also expressed concern regarding the number of violent incidents occurring in the park.
Carnegie Outreach on site daily
Carnegie Outreach continues to be on site daily, working to support individuals to access housing and shelter, income, and other support services. To help people with the transition, BC Housing has a team in the park to support people packing and transporting their belongings, once an offer is accepted. Park Board staff are offering longer-term storage options for any possessions that individuals are not able to move to their new space right away.
The safety of the people sleeping in Oppenheimer Park continues to be our top priority and we are strongly encouraging everyone to work with Carnegie Outreach to move into safe and stable accommodation.
Meeting the needs of those experiencing homelessness
The City is continually working to meet the needs of those experiencing homelessness, including creating more affordable housing. This requires continued and increasing commitment from and collaboration with senior levels of government and creative approaches to addressing the underlying causes of homelessness, including the housing affordability crisis, lack of sufficient incomes, and service gaps that result in people having no place to turn but the homelessness services sector.