Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism.
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
Just$1.99
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(select.open)}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](select.open),dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); } //

A homeless man sleeps in a doorway in downtown Vancouver, British Columbia, Thursday, January 27, 2011.

Rafal Gerszak for The Globe and Mail

When he was elected two years ago, Mayor Gregor Robertson pledged to end street homelessness in Vancouver by 2015. But the city's own projections show there will still be nearly 500 people who need housing and support that year, with no place to go.

And that will rise to 1,200 by 2020 unless the city is successful in persuading provincial politicians to continue pouring money into low-cost housing on top of the hundreds of millions they've invested in the past four years, Vancouver officials say. It will take a quarter-billion in construction dollars from the province, plus millions in free land from the city, to close that gap.

"We will not solve street homelessness by 2015 unless we can find a way to bring on housing for 450 people," said city manager Penny Ballem, as she presented a comprehensive update on all of the city's recent housing initiatives.

Story continues below advertisement

Mr. Robertson said the city will have to make extraordinary efforts to do that. "We need to move heaven and earth to put [city]land on the table for the provincial and federal government," he said.

The report showed the city is expecting to have 1,640 housing units aimed at people currently living in shelters or on the street to open in the next three years. Most, though not all, of those units will be in 14 new social-housing buildings funded by the province in the last two years.

While that unprecedented boom in supported housing will reduce the number of homeless over the next two years, down to an estimated 150 by 2012, the number of homeless people will start climbing again after that.

That's because there's still a steady stream of people who come out of jails, foster homes, mental-health facilities and elsewhere every year and end up homeless.

Dr. Ballem said people are sent out of foster care with a taxi chit and no comprehensive support plan; people leaving jail also get no help. "Those people are moving onto our streets," she said.

She said the city, which is already spending $28-million a year on homelessness through police, fire and other departments, needs to set precise goals to prevent another wave of homelessness from swamping the city.

Among those goals: providing another 12 to 15 sites for new social housing; lobbying for an urgent-response centre so police have somewhere to take people in trouble besides emergency wards; and maintaining an overall plan to create housing for renters, so that they aren't adding to the pressures on the lowest-cost housing.

Story continues below advertisement

She said the city has been showing signs of progress and can continue to make improvements. "This is not a hopeless situation," Dr. Ballem said.

Homelessness in the city doubled between 2002 and 2008. It increased again by 12 per cent in the next two years, with about 1,700 homeless people in a March, 2010, count.

But only 400 of those people were sleeping on the street in that count, compared to 800 the year before, because of intensive city and provincial efforts to open new shelters.

On other fronts, the report showed the city expects to have created 1,100 new rental units through its sometimes-controversial experiment in giving developers breaks on parking, fees or density to entice them into building rentals. As well, thanks to recent zoning changes, the city will have 200 new laneway houses by the end of the year.

Those two initiatives are aimed mainly at the middle-income group of the city's more than 300,000 renters.

But staff said the city needs to create 1,500 rental units a year for the next 10 years to accommodate a group of residents who account for about 52 per cent of the population - the highest percentage of renters of any Canadian city next to Montreal.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow the author of this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies