DJ Larkin

For almost 5 years I’ve been working for years with people experiencing homelessness and marginal housing, focusing on what systemic changes are needed to improve their circumstances. Over the last 7 months I have travelled the province to hear from people affected by poverty about what would make the most difference in their lives. Two of the things I heard in every location I visited were: affordable housing and income assistance rates that didn’t leave people hungry and homeless. Not only are people starving, they are being criminalized for trying to make ends meet. Whether it’s being ticketed for street vending, run out of town for panhandling, evicted from a park for sleeping there or getting caught stealing food.

We need systemic change to make BC liveable for all its residents. This year I will not be accepting the increase from $18 to $19 – that is because the rent calculated is based on an SRO room in Vancouver. But, in almost every other location in BC there’s no such thing as SROs and so people have no choice but to look for market apartments – often costing between $600 and $1400 for a one bedroom unit. Also, many people living in poverty lack the tenancy rights and rent control that many of us enjoy. And so, without thousands of new units of social housing, the $100 increase put in place in 2017 will quickly be sucked up into our unaffordable private housing market – leaving people hungry for another year.
Twitter: @pivotlegal

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