Vancouver city council has unanimously approved an emergency fund of up to $30-million to help hundreds of homeless residents.
The money will be used to buy or lease vacant hotels, apartments and single-room occupancy buildings and to provide other services to support as many as 750 people who lack safe shelter.
Many of the potential sites will need renovation, so council also approved plans for the immediate use of a city-owned motel and a hostel on Vancouver’s west side.
It’s expected that residents of an unsanctioned encampment in Strathcona Park will begin moving to those sites soon.
The decision approving the emergency fund and opening the two temporary pandemic shelters followed a nearly 12-hour council meeting Thursday and submissions from 34 speakers.
Mayor Kennedy Stewart issued a statement thanking council for supporting his COVID-19 housing action plan, calling it the fastest way to get people back into safe housing with the wraparound services needed to stabilize their lives.
But Stewart says the housing plan is not a “silver bullet.”
“We still need far more investments in housing, mental health services and safe supply from our partners in the provincial and federal governments to truly deliver for our neighbours who need it most,” the statement says.
Stewart says he will not stop fighting for those investments.
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