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The continuum of shelter uncertainty: a case study of Vancouver planning responses to homelessness Gagan, Gagan, Tracey Tracey 1994

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TUE CONTINUuM OF SBELTER UNCERTAINTY:A CASE STUDY OF VANCOUVER PLANNING RESPONSES TO IE[OMELESSNESSbyTRACEY GAGANB.A., Loyola Maryinount University, 1983A ‘l]lISIS SIJEM[ITED IN PARTIAL FULFELMENT OF‘TUE REQUIREMENTS FOR TUE DEGREE OFMASTER OF ARTSinTILE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIESSCHOOL OF COMMUNITY AND REGIONAL PLANNINGWe accept this thesis as conformingto the required standardTIlE UNiVERSiTY OF BRITISH COLUMBIASeptember 1994© Tracey A. Gagan, 1994In presenting this thesis in partial fulfillment of therequirements for an advanced degree at the University of BritishColumbia, I agree that the Library shall make it freely availablefor reference and study. I further agree that permission forextensive copying of this thesis for scholarly purposes may begranted by the head of my department or by his or herrepresentatives. It is understood that copying or publication ofthis thesis for financial gain shall not be allowed without mywritten permission.(Signature)___ ______Department of G AcStderThe University of B.1itish” Columbia 3Vancouver, CanadaDateABSTRACTOne of the major obstacles to dealing with homelessness has been the difficulty in definingthe term. In the mid-1980s, the United Nations proposed a definition of homelessness whichacknowledges a range of housing related needs. However, in practice the public sector generallyuses a narrower meaning of the term, considering only those who are dependent on emergencyshelters and those absolutely without shelter, to be “homeless”.No common definition of homelessness has gained wide acceptance in Canada. Conceptualgaps are created, as the problem of homelessness is defined differently by various sectors and levelsof government. The absence of formal recognition of this complex social problem has not servedto diminish its impact.An alternative concept of homelessness relates to the continuum of shelter uncertainty amongthe poverty population. Certain markings of vulnerability to homelessness have been identified todetermine which groups are “at risk” of experiencing homelessness.This thesis contends that the broader concept of homeless may be utilized at the municipallevel, to better characterise the local nature of the problem and inform responses to local housingneed.A case study is presented to explore how the term “homelessness” is operationalized by theCity of Vancouver. The opportunities and constraints of municipal housing planning and policy inaddressing homelessness are analyzed.Service providers and government representatives were surveyed to evaluate the effectiveness11of the City of Vancouver’s responses to the homeless. While the limitations on municipal actionwere acknowledged, respondents generally support an expanded role for the City as a more proactivefacilitator and advocate.The study finds that the range and diversity of acute housing need in the Vancouver case,supports the rationale for broadening the meaning of homelessness and including at risk groups inlocal planning for the homeless.111TABLE OF CONTENTSABSTRACT iiTABLE OF CONTENTS ivLIST OF TABLES viLIST OF FIGURES viiACKNOWLEDGEMENTS viiiTIlE SOCIAL PROBLEM OF HOMELESSNESS 11.1 Overview of the Social and Economic Context 11.2 Emergence of a Problem: from Definition to Policy 31.3 Why Examine the Risk of Homelessness at the Local Level’ 41.4 Research Methods and Scope of Study 52. DEFINING HOMELESSNESS 82.1 Social Perceptions and Stereotypes 82.2 Causes of Homelessness 92.3 Problems of Enumerating the Homeless 102.4 Definitions of Homelessness 112.4.1 The United Nations’ Definition 122.4.2 A Canadian Perspective 132.5 The Continuum of Shelter Uncertainty 132.6 Identifying the At-Risk Homeless Population 152.6.1 Housing of Last Resort 152.6.2 Rent-to-Income Cost Burdens 162.6.3 Over-Crowding 162.7 Summary 173. TilE EVOLVING ROLE OF MUNICIPALITIES 183.1 Development of Canadian Housing Policy 183.1.1 Early Policy Development 183.1.2 Canadian Legislative Framework 193.2 Recent Evolution of Social Housing Policy 203.3 Who is Responsible for Housing the Homeless’ 213.4 Federal Responses to Homelessness 223.5 Municipal Approaches to Homelessness 253.5.1 Determining Municipal Authority 253.5.2 Typology of Approaches 26iv3.5.3 Examples of Municipal Strategies 273.6 Summary 304. PLANNING RESPONSES TO HOMELESSNESS IN VANCOUVER 324.1 Introduction to Case Study of Vancouver 324.2 Vancouver Planning in Face of Shelter Uncertainty 374.2.1 The History of Social Housing 374.2.2 Present Status of City Planning 384.2.3 Other Significant Players 424.3 An Overview of the At Risk Homeless Population 494.3.1 Profiles of SRO and Rooming House Residents 494.3.2 Special “At Risk” Populations 514.4 Analysis of Vancouver’s Approaches to Homelessness 584.4.1 Evaluation of the City’s Initiatives 584.4.2 Limitations on Municipal Action 654.4.3 Establishing Partnerships 674.4.4 Regional Issues 684.5 Summary of Case Study 705. IMPLICATIONS FOR MUNICIPAL POLICY AN]) PLANNING 715.1 Recommendations for the Vancouver Case 715.2 A Broader Definition of Homelessness 745.3 Municipal Approaches to Homelessness and the Role of Planning 755.4 Areas of Further Research . 785.5 Conclusion 79BIBLIOGRAPHY 80Print Sources 80Persons and Organizations Consulted . 88APPENDIX A 92VLIST OF TABLESTable 1 Proportion of Vancouver Rental Housing 34Available to Those on GAINTable 2 Vancouver Emergency Shelters and 47Related ServicesviLIST OF FIGURESFigure 1 Maps of Vancouver Case Study Area 36Figure 2 Vancouver Urban Core Shelterless 41Survey (1989-1990)Figure 3 Total Annual Vancouver Social 44Housing Completions (1985-1993)Figure 4 Total Vancouver Downtown Core SRO Hotel 59and Rooming House Stock (1978-1994)viiACKNOWLEDGEMENTSI would like to thank my advisors, Dr. Penny Gurstein and Dr. Thomas Hutton, for their insight,advice and support during the last two years, and Mr. Cameron Gray, Deputy Manager andCoordinator, Housing Centre, City of Vancouver, for being the external examiner during the thesisdefense. I gratefully acknowledge all the people who generously shared their time and knowledge,while being interviewed for this thesis. I also want to thank my (tolerant) family and friends fortheir love and support which have sustained and encouraged me along the way - especially Wendyand Martin. And finally, I would like to dedicate this work to Grandma Jo Gagan, without whoselove and inspiration I would not be where I am today.viii1. THE SOCIAL PROBLEM OF HOMELESSNESS1.1 Overview of the Social and Economic Context of HomelessnessIn recent decades, the complex interplay of the technological revolution, the integration ofcapital markets and the process of economic restructuring has been reshaping the global socioeconomic landscape (Davis and Hutton, 1991). These forces have world-wide implications for socialand political structures, and continue to influence the economic geography of North American cities.Through the process of de-industrialization, information-oriented and service sector industries havesupplanted the economic importance of the manufacturing sectors in most developed and in manynewly-industrialized nations (Castells, 1985; Davis and Hutton, 1991).The revitalization of some high-amenity central business districts (CBDs) has accompaniedthis economic shift, in order to meet the needs of an increasingly polarized workforce. Thegentrification of neighbourhoods adjacent to such CBDs has stimulated the rapid depletion of low-income housing stock and the displacement of many “Skid Row” residents.Some U.S. analysts have argued that the rental housing crisis in cities is over-stated or doesnot exist (Weicher, Villani and Roistacher, 1981), and they discount the notion of an escalatinghomeless problem. Others argue that the existing homeless problem is not directly attributable toa crisis in affordable housing (Beirne, 1989).Some conservative analysis downplays evidence of a housing emergency and maintains thatpublic sector intervention in the private housing market is a needless interference in free enterprise(Salins, 1987). This theory suggests that the decreasing availability of low-cost housing and risingrents have directly resulted from increases in the quality and size of housing (Salins, 1987).However, recent research indicates that overall, poor and minority households have notbenefited proportionally from improvements to the housing stock (Ringheim, 1990). In addition, the1incidence of housing problems (cost burdens, overcrowding and inadequacies) grew faster than therate of new household formation (Ringheim, 1990).Many analysts agree that there is a causal link between the economic restructuring of citiesand the increasing numbers of new homeless (Hopper, Susser and Conover, 1985; Blau, 1992).Most of the factors recognized to contribute to homelessness have occurred repeatedly during thepost-World War II era. However these factors did not result in the levels of homelessness whichare evident in North America today (Hopper and Hamberg, 1984).This suggests a significant qualitative change in the nature of poverty and/or in the conditionssurrounding it. “Reverse filtering” (or gentrification), a relatively new phenomenon in NorthAmerica, has been presented as a key precipitating factor in the rise of urban homelessness in the1970s and 1980s (Hopper and Hamberg, 1984; Hopper, Susser and Conover, 1985; Stone, 1992),“Reverse-filtering” contravenes the process by which housing units are usually supplied (or“filtered down”) to lower-income households. The polarization of income divisions, and theescalation of land values and housing charges have stimulated this reverse trend, “filtering-up” low-income housing back to middle and upper-income households (Zarembka, 1990). This processpervasively leads to a net loss of low-income housing units, particularly SROs (Lincoln, 1980;Hopper and Hamberg, 1984), and contributes to increasing numbers of “at risk” and literallyhomeless.Empirical research has identified the systemic nature of homelessness in an aggregate housingratio (McChesney, 1992). This ratio is the number of households living under the poverty line overthe number of affordable low-income housing units available. Homelessness inevitably results whenthe number of poor households exceeds the number of low-income units available in the housingstock. In an acute low-income housing shortage, when the number of households who can pay more2for their housing is exhausted, and when the number who can “double-up” with friends and familyis exhausted, the remainder have no housing options and will become homeless.From this perspective, to be effective in dealing with homelessness, solutions to alleviate thissocial problem must include strategies to decrease the number of poor households competing foraffordable housing and/or increase the number of low-income units available to them (McChesney,1992).1.2 Emergence of a Problem: from Definition to Policy-MakingA social problem is a configuration of events or situations which must be identified andsingled out for attention by the general public. Prior to this public identification, the political debateover social problems usually confines itself to whether or not there is a problem society ought toaddress (Blumer, 1971). Only as it acquires broad social legitimacy will a social problem becomethe focus of policy or coordinated action (Hulchanski, 1987).The process of problem definition is largely political, since it entails value decisions (limes,1990). Public sector priorities affect the process of identifying the social problem itself and thereforeinfluence the options developed to solve that problem (Burch and Michaels, 1991). Planninginvolves anticipation of social problems and formation of responses to manage or solve suchproblems, within the constraints of political and economic frameworks.The evolution of the North American definition of homelessness has been characterised bysociety’s ambivalent responses to the homeless and those at risk of homelessness (loch, 1987).During the 1980s, however, homelessness emerged as a growing social problem in North Americancities, and as a political issue.Determining the meaning of homelessness has proved problematic because it is not a precise3condition. Subsequently, a wide range of definitions and meanings have evolved for the term“homeless”. Narrow problem definition has generally been used as a policy instrument to minimizegovernment responsibility for the homeless.This thesis supports the premise that “homelessness means more than the simple absence ofshelter” (Daly, l988pl). It focuses on the continuum of shelter uncertainty, which ranges from theobviously domiciled to the obviously homeless. The thesis contends that the definition of homelessmay be broadened at the municipal level, to better characterise the local nature of the problem. The“at risk” homeless population needs to be identified locally, if municipal housing policy is to addressor attempt to ameliorate the problem of urban homelessness.To the extent that the continuum of shelter uncertainty and the population “at risk” ofhomelessness go unrecognized, gaps may remain in housing planning and policy.1.3 Why Examine the Risk of Homelessness at the Local Level?Evidence of public poverty is generally considered detrimental to a city’s business interests,particularly homelessness in the central business district (CBD). Municipal inattention to this socialproblem runs contrary to economic development strategies. When homelessness proliferates,municipal governments appear incompetent (Blau, 1992).Among the many factors which contribute to the extent of homelessness in a city, twoprincipal factors are the availability and affordability of rental housing for the lowest incomepopulation. The specifics of housing problems tend to vary from region to region, and city to city.Locally-developed programs often provide the most appropriate solutions to homelessness (Daly,l988pl). Local governments are generally well positioned to identif’ and develop multi-facetedprograms which include non-housing services, such as health and education (Carter and McAfee,41990).With regard to homelessness, preventative action is an important element to the base ofsolutions. It may cost less in economic and social terms to intercede before homelessness occurs,than to attempt to stem the flow once the cycle of homelessness begins. A variety of projects andservices, including emergency, transitional and permanent housing are required to address thecomplex problems associated with homelessness (Daly, l988pl).This complexity requires an integrated approach to solution-making and collaboration betweenpublic, private and third sector players, and the consumers of services themselves. Without thiscollaboration, cities become problem managers by default. Increasingly then municipalities haveattempted to harness the myriad of players and move them toward locally defined solutions. Themost effective solutions to provide affordable housing are supported by partnerships between differentlevels of government, as well as the private and “non-profit” third sectors (Federation of CanadianMunicipalities, 1991; Hulchanski, Eberle, Olds and Stewart, 1991; Carter and McAfee, 1990).Cities must assume an active role in establishing these local programs and supporting joint public-private projects (Daly, 1988pl).Planning links theoretical knowledge with practical action (Friedmann, 1987). If citiesmaintain a knowledge base on the local “at risk” homeless population, they are better positioned tolobby senior governments about the distinct parameters of the social problem and of program fundingrequirements.1.4 Research Methods and Scope of StudyA confluence of social, political and economic factors are attributed with causing the growthof homelessness in North America (Hopper and Hamberg, 1984; Oberlander and Fallick, 1988;5Piliavin, Sosin and Westerfelt, 1988; Burt and Cohen, 1989; Jahiel, 1992). The combinations ofthese causes (discussed further in Chapter 2) include problems related to family structure, health,work and income levels, and housing affordability.This thesis focuses its investigation on the systemic causes of homelessness. This assumptiondoes not challenge the fact that some personal attributes or behaviours may precipitate an individual’shomeless episode or prolong its duration. Research clearly indicates that homelessness cannot beattributed to a single factor; the causes include structural factors, personal factors and public policy(Burt, 1992). However, given the scope of this study, the influence of structural factors isemphasized.This thesis begins with a review of literature related to homelessness, Canadian housingpolicy and social theory. In the recent Canadian context, responsibility for housing program deliveryhas been devolving from the federal government to the lower levels of government. A case studyof the City of Vancouver’s approaches to planning for the homeless is presented in order to examinemunicipal planning for the homeless and those “at risk” of homelessness. This study particularlyinvestigates how the term “homelessness” is operationalized by the City of Vancouver planningprocess and analyzes how municipal planning for those at risk of homelessness can be made moreeffective.A wide variety of agents play important roles in delivering housing and providing servicesto the homeless and those at risk of homelessness. A total of 21 third sector service providers andrepresentatives, from all levels of government, were surveyed as to the effectiveness of the City ofVancouver’s action toward the homeless and those at risk of homelessness. (Questionnaire inAppendix A; Respondents listed in Bibliography).In keeping with analytic generalization (Yin, 1989), the value of analyzing this case study6lies in its ability to identify, from its broad results, other cases to which generalizations apply. Therecommendations and general implications of the case study are discussed in the concluding chapter.72. DEFINING HOMELESSNESS2.1 Social Perceptions and StereotypesThe existence of homeless people is not a new phenomenon in North America, since greatnumbers were shelterless and transient during the Great Depression of the 1930s (Oberlander andFallick, 1992; Rose, 1980). However, political recognition of this social problem has dramaticallyincreased in the last decade.In North America, the general public tends to accept the concept of homeless as meaningthose who are literally without a roof over their heads and those sleeping in shelters. Throughoutthe early 1980s, this idea was promoted by the media which focused reporting on the “new” urbanhomeless; alarming human interest stories of elderly women and formerly-middle class families whowere newcomers to the privations of the street.This editorial slant separated the new homeless (who were portrayed as unfortunate victimsof circumstances) from the historically stigmatized “derelicts on Skid Row” (whose plight may elicitcompassion but mostly blame) (Hoch and Slayton, 1989).In Western culture, a long-held distinction prevails between the “deserving poor”, thosedeemed unable to work or improve their status (usually the elderly, women with children and thedisabled) and ‘the undeserving poor’(usually single men, who “should be working” to improve theirstatus).The neo-conservative viewpoint of individual responsibility for homelessness is epitomizedby former U.S. President Ronald Reagan’s statement that many people are, “Well, we might say,homeless by choice...” (Wright, 1989). This perspective is rooted in the Puritan ethic that worldlysuccess and salvation are earned by classical virtues: temperance, industry, thrift and individualmoralism (Burch and Michaels, 1991). However, attributing homelessness entirely to personal8characteristics is an oversimplification of the problem (Burt, 1992).In general, those who choose to live in objectively inadequate housing (makeshift dwellings,public shelters or outside) are not considered to be homeless. The determinant is whether or notthere are alternatives available to the individual. Those who lack the options or resources to beadequately housed are generally accepted as homeless (Wright, 1989).Research contradicts the common stereotype that homelessness is caused only by personalfailings combined with alcoholism and mental illness. Studies confirm that fewer than 40% of thetotal homeless population abuses alcohol to excess, the majority does not (Wright, 1989). Estimatesof the number of severe psychiatrically-disabled in homeless populations range from 10-33 %(Wright, 1989; Burt, 1990). While mental illness and substance abuse are clearly significantproblems among the homeless population, they are not the definitive causal factors to homelessness.2.2 Causes of HomelessnessStudies identify a confluence of social, economic, political and physical factors which cancontribute to or trigger homelessness (Hopper and Hamberg, 1984; Oberlander and Fallick, 1988;Piliavin, Sosin and Westerfelt, 1988; Burt and Cohen, 1989; Jahiel, 1992). These studies contendthat the main stage-setting and precipitating factors to homelessness include:* Poverty* Lack of affordable housing* Displacement by gentrification and urban revitalization* Unemployment, underemployment and unemployability* The breakdown of the traditional family structure* Inadequacies and inequities in the provision of socialwelfare and income supports* Lack of diversified community support systems for thedeinstitutionalized psychiatrically-disabled* Personal attributes or health problems* Discrimination9Many of these stage-setting and precipitating factors have occurred at various times duringthe post-World War II era, however they did not result in the levels of homelessness which areevident in North America today (Hopper and Hamberg, 1984). Gentrification, however, is arelatively new phenomenon. In the trend of “reverse filtering”, those individuals and families leastable to compete for an affordable housing unit are increasingly “beaten out” of acquiring this scarceresource by those with higher incomes (Buckner, 1991).While the research on causes of homelessness differs in emphasis, there appears to be generalagreement that the growing gap between incomes of those living in poverty and the supply ofaffordable housing effects a causal link to homelessness.The wide range of causes of homelessness contradicts the stereotype that there is ahomogenous group choosing a transient lifestyle. In fact, the heterogeneity of the homelesspopulation is one of the many obstacles to estimating its size.2.3 Problems of Enumerating the HomelessIn order to consider the ramifications of a social problem policy makers usually first attemptto estimate its dimensions. Enumeration of the homeless is hampered by the lack of a broadlyaccepted definition of the term. Counting homeless people can be a highly politicized process.In the 1980s, published estimates of the U.S. national homeless population ranged from250,000 and 3 million persons. The lower Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)official estimate was criticized for methodological shortcomings which tended to minimize theproblem of homelessness. Meanwhile, homeless advocates at the Center for Creative Nonviolencewere criticized for circulating inflated figures of homelessness, without providing a scientific basis10for their estimates (Ringheim, 1990).More balanced estimates have emerged which have gained more general credibility. The bestavailable estimates suggest that there are between 15-25 homeless people for every 10,000 peopleliving in the U.S., with greater concentrations in certain urban centres (Burt, 1992; Burt and Cohen,1989).Canada has never completed a national census which included homeless persons. The 1991Canada Census effort ran into significant logistical problems, so estimates were consideredunreliable. Consequently, Statistics Canada can not release information regarding the extent ofhomelessness in Canada (Giles, p.d., 1994).Questions regarding criterion arise with any discussion of enumeration: Who should becounted as homeless and why? Consideration of degrees of homelessness (shelterless or otherwise)and distinction of causes determines the order of magnitude of any homeless count. Therefore,defining the term “homeless” is a critical step in estimating the dimensions of this social problem.2.4 Definitions of HomelessnessThere are a range of definitions for the term homeless, depending on one’s world-view orpolitical leaning. On one end of the spectrum, political will requires a very narrow definition of theterm. Throughout the 1980s, policy-makers in the U.S. steadfastly defended the use of a strictdefmition to limit the responsibility of government regarding the homeless. A 1984 HUD studyspecified:‘Homelessness’ refers to people in the ‘streets’ who, in seeking shelter, have no alternativebut to obtain it from a private or public agency. Homeless people are distinguished fromthose who have permanent shelter even though that shelter may be physically inadequate.They are also distinguished from those living in overcrowded conditions.”Here the question of the ‘legitimate’ definition of homelessness hinges on what it will require of the11public sector. During the Reagan and Bush Administrations, the United States’ definition reflectedthe neo-conservative approach, minimizing government responsibility by limiting the number ofpeople considered to be in need of shelter (Hulchanski, 1987). This place-based definitionobjectively focuses on an individual’s place of residence on a given night or nights, and makes asharp distinction between homeless people and other very poor people (Jahiel, 1992).On the other end of the defmitional spectrum is the meaning adopted by the United Nations(U.N.), which considerably broadens the concept of homelessness.2.4.1 The United Nations’ DefinitionThe United Nations designated 1987 as the International Year of Shelter for the Homeless(IYSH). The U.N.’s action is widely acknowledged as the catalyst for raising the profile of the basichuman need for adequate shelter around the world (Charette, 1991). The U.N. developed adefinition of homeless which extends the term’s meaning far beyond the parameters of shelter.According to the U.N., the homeless include:“(1) People who have no home and who live either outdoors or in emergency shelters orhostels and,(2) People whose homes do not meet basic U.N. standards.”The U.N. standards include adequate protection from the elements, access to safe water andsanitation, affordable prices, secure tenure and personal safety as well as accessibility toemployment, education and health care (Fallis and Murray, 1990).This definition encompasses a much larger range of socio-economic needs than the stricterdefinition of homelessness. It builds on the broader concept of housing-related needs, exploring thefull human meaning of home.122.4.2 A Canadian PerspectiveIn addressing a Canadian definition of homelessness, Oberlander and Fallick identify therelativity of homelessness, and suggest that it is important to bear in mind the diverse causes of thissocial problem. They define homelessness as:“the absence of a continuing or permanent home over which individuals and families havepersonal control and which provides the essential needs of shelter, privacy and security, atan affordable cost, together with ready access to social, economic and cultural publicservices.”Similar to the United Nations’ definition, Oberlander and Fallick consider more than the sheltercomponent of housing.However, no definition of homelessness has been widely accepted in Canada. Each sectorcreates its own definition of homelessness, bounded by its self-determined parameters. Suchdefinitions are helpflul in framing the extent of public (and private) sector involvement. However,practical usage of the terms demonstrates that while the extremes may be identified, gaps may becreated by this process of problem defmition.2.5 The Continuum of Shelter UncertaintyIndividuals experience a wide spectrum of uncertainty in shelter security. Illustrations of thisrange include situations where persons are:* Temporarily “doubling-up” with family or friends;* Squatting in abandoned buildings, at campsites or living in automobiles;* Residing in institutions, such as hospitals or prisons without homes to go to upondischarge;* Living in abusive or violent homes;* Living in a Single Room Occupant (SRO) residential hotels for only three weeksof each month;* Experiencing acute housing affordability problems or the threat of eviction.The ambiguity of shelter security demonstrates the difficulty in defining “regular and customary13access to a conventional dwelling unit and supports the notion that homelessness is not a uniformcondition (Wright, 1989).Sorting poor people without any place to sleep into a separate group tends to suggest that theshelterless-homeless make up some kind of social type and that some characteristics distinguish themfrom other members of the poor. However, research of SRO residents suggests otherwise. Thosecoping with daily shelter uncertainty were found to differ little from those across the threshold ofminimal shelter security (Hoch and Slayton, 1989).As mentioned earlier, the homeless population is a heterogeneous mixture of people; someexperience only short-term housing or shelter problems, and others experience chronic, long-termdifficulties. Defining a transitory or situational component adds to the complexity in identif’ing andenumerating the homeless.Despite these difficulties, it is possible to distinguish among sub-populations of the homeless(Rossi, 1987). The “literally homeless” are persons who clearly do not have customary access toa conventional dwelling and who would be homeless by any conceivable definition of the term, andthe “precariously (or marginally) housed” are persons with tenuous or very temporary claims to aconventional dwelling of more or less marginal adequacy.Acknowledging the linkage between increasing poverty and the continuum of shelteruncertainty is critical. (Rossi, 1987; Wright, 1989). Innumerable degrees of housing adequacy andhousing stability are to be found along the continuum. It is not possible to categorize placementalong the continuum since there are no definite, natural breakpoints on it. However, it is possibleto delineate three sub-groups who make up the continuum; (1) the poverty population as a whole,(2) the subset of the poverty population that is marginally housed, and (3) the subset of the povertypopulation that is literally homeless (Wright, 1989). These groups are closely inter-linked and14individuals may frequently move among the sub-groups.2.6 Identifying the At-Risk Homeless PopulationShelter uncertainty has always been a hardship for those below the poverty line. In the pasttwo decades, however, the scope and intensity of shelter uncertainty have dramatically increased.These changes have been attributed to the destruction of single-room accommodations and, theincreasing incidence of poverty among the working-class (Hoch and Slayton, 1989).2.6.1 Housing of Last ResortSingle room occupancy hotels and rooming houses are at the lowest end of the privatehousing market. These provide the housing of “last resort” (sometimes, of choice) for a wide rangeof people, from the elderly and young working adults, to the deinstitutionalized and the unemployed(Hopper and Hamberg, 1989).This housing stock has been particularly susceptible to elimination by urban renewal andgentrification in many North American cities (Lincoln, 1980). From 1970-1982, 1,116,000 SROunits were lost in the United States, nearly half the entire stock (Hopper and Hamberg, 1984). ManyCanadian cities (Ottawa, Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver) experienced similar permanent lossesof SROs throughout the 1970s and early 1980s (Ley, 1991).When displacement occurs due to the destruction of this stock, many residents have noalternative housing affordable to them. For example, from 1976 to 1979 Ottawa lost 40% of itsrooming houses. The non-availability of alternative affordable rental stock was reflected in thequadrupling of housing authority waiting lists that followed in 1980-1984 (Ley, 1991).152.6.2 Rent-to-Income Cost BurdensThe greater the burden of economic hardship, the greater the shelter uncertainty. Themajority of the “marginally housed” are renters, the homeless rarely come directly from home-ownership to homelessness (Ringheim, 1990). Renters who are vulnerable to being shut out of thehousing market, due to low incomes and high rent burdens, have been identified as one sector of thepopulation at risk of homelessness.In both the U.S. and Canada, the rule of thumb ceiling on housing affordability isaccommodation which does not exceed 30% of monthly income. Those who are highly cost-burdened, low-income renters and involuntarily must pay more than 45% of their monthly incometo rent have been identified as “at risk” of homelessness. This population has been further dividedinto the “very vulnerable”, who pay in excess of 60% of their income to rent; and the “severelyvulnerable”, who have less than $50 per person remaining in residual monthly income after payingrent (Ringheim, 1990).2.6.3 Over-CrowdingOvercrowding is recognized as another marking of vulnerability to homelessness. Surveysof the homeless have found that a majority of the shelterless have been evicted, either by a landlordor by a primary tenant with whom they had “doubled-up” (Ringheim, 1990). According to someanalysts, those who are “doubled-up” due to the unavailability of affordable housing should beincluded as “at risk” since they are only one step away from homelessness (Zarembka, 1990). Thepotential of eviction, which threatens their continued access to a dwelling, and a lack of personalcontrol marks many of those “doubled-up” as “at risk” of homelessness.162.7 SummaryOne of the major obstacles to dealing with homelessness has been the difficulty in definingthe term. The United Nations promotes a definition which acknowledges a range of housing relatedneeds. However, in practice, the public sector generally uses a more narrowly defmed meaning ofthe term, such that only those dependent on emergency shelters and those absolutely without shelterare considered to be homeless.The concept of homelessness takes on a variety of meanings and understandings, particularlyas one moves from one culture to another. Some definitions focus on the state of homelessness andothers on defining adequate shelter (Glasser, 1994).Most researchers in North America agree that a confluence of factors may causehomelessness, but that poverty is a common denominator in all cases. There is a continuum ofshelter uncertainty among the poverty population. While many move in and out of homelessness,certain markings of vulnerability to homelessness have been identified to determine which groups are“at risk” of experiencing homelessness.Risk is related to such factors as high rent-to-income ratios, incidence of overcrowding andcertain housing types (SROs). Additional markings of vulnerability may be identified at the locallevel for particular cohorts at risk of homelessness.The absence of formal recognition of this complex social problem has not served to diminishits impact. A broad meaning of “homelessness”, one which relates to local experience of it, couldencourage more proactive planning and create preventative policies responsive to those at risk ofhomelessness.173. THE EVOLVING ROLE OF MUNICIPALITIES3.1 Development of Canadian Housing Policy3.1.1 Early Policy DevelopmentIn the first few decades of the twentieth century, social thinkers viewed poverty as a productof personal failure or flawed character rather than as problems of social and economic environments(Bacher and Hulchanski, 1987). This view framed public response to poverty; namely the absenceof public responsibility taken for the poor. Housing was traditionally the domain of free enterprise.The ‘pure’ market was responsible for meeting housing demand (CMHC, 1987).After the Depression of 1913-1915, some reform in social welfare policy was directed at“saving” the poor by strictly regulating their lives. Reform activity primarily meant the destructionof the low-cost housing stock in urban centres, with some harsh racist overtones in this “slumclearance” (Bacher and Hulchanski, 1987).In 1918, a new demand was placed on federal policy-making structures with the return ofWorld War I soldiers who were considered deserving of special recognition (Oberlander and Fallick,1992). The federal government initially became involved as an as hoc reaction to their housingneeds. This action established public expectation and set the evolution of policy in motion.Since housing construction was of low priority during wartime, the private market could notmeet the pent up demand for affordable accommodation both during and after the War. Theinfluence of these factors created a new environment and a potential sphere of involvement for thefederal government.According to historian A.E. Jones, the motive of ensuring social stability during the industrialunrest of 1918-1919 was the most compelling factor in the introduction of federal housing plans.With the return of peacetime activity, these problems subsided and the impetus for continuing federal18housing programs disappeared (Overlander and Fallick, 1992).The political climate had also changed radically in 1921, as William Lyon Mackenzie Kingbecame Prime Minister, bringing an end to federal support of housing (Bacher and Hulchanski,1987).During the booming 1920s, free enterprise was again expected to provide equilibrium in thehousing market. It was not until the Depression, under Prime Minister R.B. Bennet, that stridentpublic pressure forced the federal government to reconsider involvement in the housing market.Housing legislation was then proposed as a means of generating employment to revitalize thedepressed Canadian economy (Rose, 1980).3.1.2 Canadian Legislative FrameworkIn Canada, the issue of legal jurisdiction is a critical determinant to the development of anypolicy. The legislative framework has helped define the federal government’s course of action andformalized its social commitment in the domain of housing.Constitutional responsibility for specific functions were determined by the 1867 British NorthAmerica (BNA) Act. Responsibility for the provision of housing to individuals and families was firstassigned to the provinces, by judicial interpretation of Section 92 of the BNA Act (Rose, 1980).However, according to the Constitution, the Government of Canada can legislate in a nationalemergency “for the peace, order, and good government of all Canadians” (Rose, 1980). Initialgovernment intervention was only extended to problems “arising from necessities created by the warconditions” (Oberlander and Fallick, 1992). To work within its constitutional limitations the federalgovernment advanced loans from the war appropriations fund and avoided the appearance of directinvolvement in building houses (Oberlander and Fallick, 1992). Ultimately, federal involvement in19housing was perceived to be “in the national interest” and deemed vital to a buoyant economy, soit prevailed over constitutional concerns and political apprehension.As early as 1944, solutions to meet growing social housing needs were outlined in theremarkably far-sighted Curtis Report. But there was no strong national leadership so little attentionwas paid to low-income rental housing (until the 1960s) or to co-operative housing (until the 1970s)(Prince, 1989).3.2 Recent Evolution of Social Housing PolicyThe evolution of social housing has paralleled that of the Canadian welfare state as a wholeand has been driven by the same underlying political forces, including federal-provincial rivalries(Banting, 1990).The general objectives of the welfare state are to commit to maintaining a minimum standardof living by providing for basic needs, such as health, education and shelter. Provision of health andeducation services is usually geared toward a universal optimum level. However, since the principleof universality is not easily applied to housing, policy objectives tend toward setting a nationalminimum housing adequacy standard (Mishra, 1990).In 1973, the federal government adopted amendments to the National Housing Act (NHA).It adopted the suggestion of the minister responsible for housing that “Good housing at reasonablecost is a social right of every citizen of this country.... [This] must be our objective, our obligationand our goal.” (Hulchanski, 1988b). In the mid-1970s, the substantial “welfare consensus”supporting these principles began to breakdown.The formal acknowledgement that all Canadians have the right to good housing at prices theycan afford did not become an objective fact. While most Canadians are well-housed, the federal20government has been criticized by the United Nations for its failure to identify the extent ofinadequate housing and homelessness in Canada (United Nations, 1993).3.3 Who is Responsible for Housing the Homeless?With identification of homelessness as a social problem, some critical questions arise: whatought to be done about it and by whom? The above history demonstrates how the rationale forsustained government involvement in the Canadian housing market has evolved over time, ebbingwith the tides of political priorities in relation to social and economic forces. Social housing requiresextensive capital investment and must compete for spending priority with other areas of social capitalinvestment, such as medical and educational institutions and public roads (Rose, 1980).Some argue that the historical pattern of government-sponsored relief has been that of longperiods of restrictive criteria on who qualifies, broken by short periods of liberalization of benefits(Piven and Cloward, 1971). In times of economic stagnation, expectations of acceptable livingstandards for the poor are scaled down.The principle of “less eligibility”, established in the English Poor Law of 1834, was thefoundation of the modern welfare system (Ringheim, 1990). In keeping with this principle, relief forthe poor would not exceed the wages of the lowest paid labourer, so as not to encourage exploitationof benefits.Current social policy reformation appears to be a hybrid of social thought, attempting to reorient the principles of the 1970s Welfare Consensus, with the historical Social Darwinist demandfor a social payoff (in the form of increased productivity, profit or social control).Society may now be more tolerant of greater deprivation for the poor and less inclined toexpect governments to alleviate poverty. For example, “Skid Row” was once viewed as degrading21urban blight. Yet while its soup kitchens and Single Room Occupancy residential hotels (SROs) havemaintained their sometimes squalid conditions, they are now considered acceptable (Ringheim, 1990).In the context of this thesis, SROs are indeed recognized as valuable community resources, and arewell worth saving. It is important to note, however, that where Skid Row SROs used to representthe bottom of the housing hierarchy, this rank has now been supplanted by homeless shelters(Ringheim, 1990).Extensive public housing waiting lists suggest a “permanent emergency” in housing need.Perhaps these signal society’s growing acceptance of poverty as an objective fact, so long as thoseexperiencing it remain invisible. Historically (both in 1918-19 and following the Depression), it hasbeen the “unruly”, rather than the “deserving”, poor that stirred significant public sector responseto housing need.3.4 Federal Responses to HomelessnessA continuum of housing need is recognized in Canada. However, the framework forestablishing housing need is not officially related to the term “homelessness” nor does it makereference to populations “at risk” of homelessness.The national housing agency, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), wascreated in the late 1940s. With regard to the continuum of shelter uncertainty, the CMHC hasdeveloped the official framework for identifying “Core Housing Need” in Canada. The CMHC hasidentified three norms to establish a minimum level of housing services. The indicators of the CoreHousing Need Model are (CMHC, 1991):* The Suitability Norm - which is based on the National Occupancy Standard (NOS) todetermine crowding;* The Adequacy Norm - which states that a dwelling unit must possess all basic plumbing22facilities and require only minor repairs, and* The Affordability Norm - which states that a household should not be required to spend30 per cent or more of its income to acquire shelter that is suitable and adequate.In 1988, a total of 1,261,000 Canadian households were determined to be in core housingneed, based on the above indicators (CMHC,1991). Relative to the majority of Canadian householdssome of those in “core housing need” also fit within the definition of “at risk” homeless.However, there is no official federal definition of homelessness. While some efforts toquantif’ the problem have been attempted, the homeless are viewed “as somewhat of an enigma” byfederal policymakers (Engeland, p. d., 1994). At the federal level, needs of “special groups” arelargely defined and addressed by political motivations. For example, the CMHC’s dedication offunds to emergency shelters for urban natives and victims of family violence was politicallymotivated and rationalized (Engeland, p.d., 1994).Canada has never completed a national census which included homeless persons. The 1991Canada Census did make efforts to collect data at soup kitchens and emergency shelters. However,the inclusion of persons without addresses in the Census was supposed to make total populationcounts more accurate; it was not intended to identif’ the extent of homelessness throughout Canada.Statistics Canada did not specifically attempt to count the number of homeless [shelterless] and sostatistics will not be released (Giles, p. d., 1993).The only available national figure of homelessness comes from the 1987 National Inquiry onHomelessness in Canada which was carried out by the Canadian Council on Social Development(CCSD). This was intended as a “snapshot” survey of agencies providing services for those in needof temporary and emergency shelter. The survey indicated that at least 8,000 people slept intemporary and emergency shelters on the night of January 22, 1987 and that over 100,000 peopleneeded shelter over the course of 1986. (The shelter bed count for British Columbia found 75123people using the shelters on January 22, 1987) (McLaughlin, 1991).This is only a partial snapshot of the national homeless population as the survey was not ableto estimate the number of individuals temporarily housed in hotels, where no shelter facilities wereavailable; the number involuntarily forced to “doubled-up” with family and friends; those ininstitutions, and the number who “slept-out” (remained shelterless). It is important to note thatadding these dimensions would be far more accurate in showing the actual size of the homelesspopulation in Canada. Adding those at risk of becoming homeless to the enumeration would alsodrastically increase the total.In Canada, homelessness has not yet become a compelling problem at the national level, asit has in the United States. The numbers of literally homeless in Canada are not high whencompared to the U.S.; this is purportedly due to Canada’s more extensive “safety net” of health andsocial services (Daly, l988pl).Addressing homelessness in Canada has therefore been a relatively low priority at the federallevel. Funding low-income housing, targeted at those most in need, was considered adequatecommitment to solve any problems that exist. The homeless are a “special population” who couldaccess such housing. The emphasis on “special needs populations” tended to limit programs andfunding to narrowly defined groups. It therefore reduced the scope of federal responsibility infinding solutions to homelessness.In 1983, the federal govermnent undertook a comprehensive evaluation of non-profit housingprograms. This evaluation concluded that these programs were not the most cost-effective way toserve those households most in need (Pomeroy, 1989). Changes in social housing strategy, toredirect limited federal funds and reduce service duplication, led to new federal-provincialarrangements in cost-sharing and service delivery.24Critics of this devolution of housing authority object to the fact that provinces have beengiven much more responsibility for social housing, but insufficient resources to meet the needs(McLaughlin, 1987).In the last decade, governments at the provincial and municipal level have becomeparticularly aware of the social problem of homelessness, especially given the dramatic variationsin certain regions (in Toronto, Vancouver, and the Atlantic provinces) (Daly, l988pl). Whilemunicipalities are often well-placed to monitor the extent of housing need within their boundaries,they do not have direct authority over housing.3.5 Municipal Approaches to Homelessness3.5.1 Determining Municipal AuthorityMunicipalities are legally “creatures” of the provincial government, and the federalgovernment has no constitutional right to negotiate directly with local governments (Rose, 1980).Traditionally, municipalities focused their response to housing need by lobbying and supporting theinitiatives of senior governments, and by exercising land-use regulatory power (Carter and McAfee,1990).Municipalities usually lack sufficient revenue-generating capacity to meet housing need (Rose,1980). Municipalities may be constrained in revenue-generation by an inability to vary propertytaxes, vis a vis neighbouring communities. If tax rates rise above average in one municipality, thenits taxpayers would likely move to a lower tax-burdened municipality within that region. Thissupports the argument that fiscal responsibility for housing should remain with senior governments,due to the broader tax base under their authority (Carter and McAfee, 1990).Another obstacle to municipal involvement and initiative may stem from historical urban-rural25rivalry. Provincial legislatures traditionally tend to be dominated by non-urban-oriented members,who perhaps give lower priority to what might be considered exclusively urban economic or socialproblems (Rose, 1980), such as homelessness.Despite the limitations of the existing legislative framework and taxation structure,municipalities have become deeply involved in the provision of affordable housing. The political,legal and financial constraints on municipal planning for the homeless are explored further in the casestudy of Vancouver in Chapter Typology of Approaches to Low Income HousingIn 1964, amendments to the NHA revolutionized the approach to public participation in theprovision of low-income housing, and encouraged local and provincial authorities to assume someresponsibilities in this domain (Rose 1980). In the 1970s, the federal government redirected policies,such as the Residential Rehabilitation Assistance Program (RRAP) and Neighbourhood ImprovementProgram (NIP), so as to involve municipal governments in selecting which local areas/projects wouldreceive funding (Ley, 1991).Depending on the degree of housing need, development patterns and political climate,municipalities have assumed different roles in social housing. Models of these municipal rolesinclude (Carter and McAfee, 1990):1) Reactor Model: Provides a relatively inactive role for the municipality, which acts only as asupport to senior government initiatives;2) Facilitator Model: Establishes a more active role as the municipality may allocate funds, provideland or lobby on behalf of private non-profits;3) Comprehensive Developer: Undertakes a more direct role through a municipal housingdepartment, and assumes greater risk by adding housing project design, implementation and/ormanagement to its role.26The non-profit (third) sector has played an integral role in the development and management ofhousing alternatives and homeless programs in many Canadian cities. Their invaluable contribution,to provide resources where gaps in service exist, has been supported and encouraged by manymunicipalities.To solve the complex problem of homelessness, the various sectors must work together.Joint projects between private, public and non-profit sectors appear to establish the most successfulsolutions (Federation of Canadian Municipalities, 1991; Hulchanski, Eberle, Olds and Stewart, 1991;Carter and McAfee, 1990). Municipalities play a strategic role in forging and developing thesepartnerships.3.5.3 Examples of Municipal Strategies to HomelessnessThe wide variety of local initiatives aimed at addressing urban homelessness suggests that nosingle approach can be universally applied. The variety of initiatives also adds credence to anemphasis on locally developed solutions.In Montreal and Quebec, efforts to preserve the existing stock of rooming houses haveincluded direct municipal subsidy programs to rehabilitate SRO’s (Federation of CanadianMunicipalities, 1991). Other municipalities have targeted initiatives to address special needs groups.Examples are: Winnipeg’s Opportunity Centre for new immigrants and refugees, Toronto’s GersteinCentre for the mentally-ill in crisis, and Peel’s emergency shelter for wife assault victims and theirchildren. These groups may require assistance finding permanent accommodation and in negotiatingtenancy agreements. London, Toronto and Regina all provide municipal funding for case workersto co-ordinate such support services (Federation of Canadian Municipalities, 1991).One key element to successful implementation of programs is involvement by the homeless27themselves in developing solutions. The Homes First Society in Toronto is one such self-managedproject, the temporary “StreetCity”, was created in an old postal warehouse. It combined the effortsof the municipal government (which gave the site and grants), various provincial agencies and thehomeless (who were involved at all stages of development and construction) (Daly l988pl).Accordingly, services geared toward those “at risk” of homelessness must emphasize collaborationwith those who are vulnerable and (where appropriate) provide information and advocacy.Neighbouring home-owners often fear the potential “negative externalities” of social housingbeing placed in their area (Mishra, 1990). Municipalities are challenged to act as leading advocatesfor the necessities of affordable housing and the value of social mix, when dealing with NIMBY(Not-In-My-Backyard) sentiments (FCM, 1991).In keeping with a combination of Reactor and Facilitator roles, some municipal initiativesrestrict development that threatens low-income rental stock. Other initiatives prevent displacementof existing tenants or link zoning incentives to the provision of low-income rental stock. The theorybehind linkage policies (development charges and commercial levies) is that those who benefitfinancially from real property development should help pay a “fair share” of the social costassociated with such development.In 1980, San Francisco pioneered the implementation of an office development/housinglinkage fee. The rationale of linking downtown commercial development to low-cost housingsuggests that office development has indirect and direct effects which exacerbate housing affordabilityproblems (Hulchanski, l989pl).Linkage programs are dependent on the market demand for commercial development locatedin the central city, especially vis a vis its region. Argument against the introduction of linkage feesis that they may discourage office development within a city. These programs have been adapted28by many North American cities in accordance with their economic, political and legal environments(Hulchanski, l989pl).One-to-one replacement initiatives are another recent innovation. Ontario’s Rental HousingProtection Act is an example of legislation which allows municipalities greater authority to regulatethe protection of low-income housing through demolition and conversion controls (Hulchanski,l989pl). The success of these initiatives are dependent on continuous inventory of the low-incomestock.One-to-one replacement may require replacement of demolished units by the developer, asa condition of site redevelopment. Alternatively, approval for demolition and conversion of low-income units may only be given by a municipality if at least an equal number of units are being builtwithin that year (Hulchanski, 1989pl). U.S. examples of one-for-one replacement provisions include:Seattle’s Housing Preservation Ordinance and San Diego’s Residential Hotel Preservation Regulations(Hulchanski, 1989pl).Studies show that the rise of homelessness is directly correlated to the loss of rooming houseunits (Bairstow, 1986). For this stock, there is often a precarious balance between the cost ofmaintenance which meets fire and building codes, and preservation of units that are affordable toexisting tenants. The maintenance and upgrading of very low-income housing stock has emergedas a critical municipal strategy to combat homelessness, especially in gentrifying or revitalizedneighbourhoods.The experience of San Francisco in preservation of its SRO stock demonstrates that anorganized community can be vital in campaigning for anti-displacement protection, swaying politicalwill and gaining wider support for local initiatives. In 1979, community opposition led to themoratorium on conversion of SRO hotels, which then were registered with the City and designated29as “permanent” residential units (Hartman, Keating and LeGates, 1982). Unfortunately, the politicalwill behind this ordinance weakened and its protection of SROs was modified accordingly.However, San Francisco’s City Hotel Tax was used to directly subsidize permanent low-rent SRO’salong with state and federal funding (Hartman, Keating and LeGates, 1982).Canadian municipalities lack much of the legislative power of their U.S. counterparts (Ley,1991). In Washington D.C. and other U.S. cities, “just cause” eviction ordinances have been passedto protect tenant rights and security of tenure, and to encourage negotiation between tenants andlandlords. In Canada, eviction issues are under provincial, rather than municipal, authority.However cities, like Winnipeg, have managed to use their maintenance and occupancy by-laws toopt not to enforce closure or eviction of residents if displacement would mean homelessness (Carterand McAfee, 1990).3.6 SummaryCanadian government involvement in the provision of housing has paralleled the evolutionof the welfare state, influenced by the same underlying political and economic forces. While federalrecognition of housing need indicates levels of “core housing need”, the homeless and thoseimmediately at risk, have been largely ignored by policy-making.In the last decade, the federal government has been down-loading responsibility for housingto the provinces. Implicit in federal withdrawal, is the passing of responsibility for the homeless tolower levels of government. A rare Canadian acknowledgement of the “at risk” homeless populationcame from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) in their 1991 National Action Plan onHousing and Homelessness. The FCM identified “at risk” homeless groups as those households,on waiting lists for social housing, in unaffordable and inadequate accommodation who are30vulnerable to crises, such as a rent increase or loss of income. However, this definition has not beenbroadly accepted or operationalized by Canadian municipalities.Canadian municipalities are well-positioned to monitor local housing need, yet as entities ofthe province, they are limited in what independent actions they can undertake. Nevertheless, somesocietal trends are transmitted to inner cities by means of municipal planning decisions.Municipalities help orchestrate the patterns of development through zoning regulations and incentiveswhich promote housing and neighbourhood improvement (Bunting and Filion, 1988).The most effective approaches to homelessness garner support both from the homelessthemselves and from a range of public, private and third sector players. The appropriate parametersof success may be determined locally, by the scope of municipal initiatives. Implementing effectiveinitiatives appears to depend on broad locally-based support (both political and community will) andcooperative participation by various levels of funding agents.Regardless of the strategies adopted, common legislative, financial and social constraints existfor Canadian municipalities addressing the problems of low-income housing and homelessness (Carterand McAfee, 1990). It is therefore instructive to thoroughly examine the case of one city,Vancouver, to analyze the implications of municipal planning for the homeless and the “at risk”population(s).314. PLANNING RESPONSES TO HOMELESSNESS IN VANCOUVERThis case study investigates how the term “homelessness” is operationalized by the City ofVancouver planning process. The study specifically examines how the marginally (or precariously)housed, and those who are literally homeless are dealt with in Vancouver. The case study alsoexplores how municipal planning for those at risk of homelessness can be made more effective.A wide variety of agents play important roles in delivering housing and providing servicesto the homeless and those at risk of homelessness in Vancouver. Therefore, a broad range of thirdsector service providers and representatives from all levels of government were surveyed to assessthe effectiveness of the City of Vancouver’s action toward the homeless and those at risk ofhomelessness.4.1 Introduction to Case Study of VancouverIn recent decades, the interplay of global forces, such as the technological revolution,economic restructuring and capital market integration, have stimulated changes to the City ofVancouver’s workforce and economic geography (Hutton and Ley, 1987; Davis and Hutton, 1992;Kunin and Knauf, 1992; North and Hardwick, 1992). The gentrification of Vancouver’s inner cityneighbourhoods, changes in land use, erosion of the supply of rental housing stock and thedisplacement of tenants have all been documented (Ley, 1991; Ley, 1985; Ley 1981).From 1989 to 1992, growth in the number of unemployed people led to a 52% increase inthe number of people on Income Assistance in British Columbia, from 189,000 to 288,000 recipients(Goldberg, 1993). Amidst these increases, the Federal government capped its contributions to theCanada Assistance Plan, reducing federal transfer payments and forcing the Provincial governmentto provide all funding for Income Assistance exceeding the 5% cap (Goldberg, 1993).32In 1970s and early 1980s, federal government-assisted programs stimulated rentalconstruction in Vancouver. These programs have all been discontinued, and there are now relativelyfew market rental units being built (City of Vancouver, 1992-1993a). The growing supply ofcondominiums does provide some additional rental housing in Vancouver. However, this stock isgenerally more expensive than purpose-built rental housing (City of Vancouver, 1992-1993a).Accordingly, competition for affordable low-income units has increased.Rent Protection amendments to the Residential Tenancy Act, to be proclaimed in the Fall of1994, may further discourage the building of purpose-built market rental accommodations. In theshort term most agree that rent control is a benefit to existing tenants. However, the longer termeffects of rent control on the supply of rental housing are much debated. Developers are more likelyto by-pass a regulated market, continuing to focus new production on strata-title condominiums ratherthan on purpose-built rental projects (Ley, 1991).In any case, it is not currently economic for private sector developers to supply new rentalunits. Rents would have to rise by 21 % in the Vancouver area, with no change in construction costs,in order to make any new construction profitable (Clayton Research Assoc. cited in BCCHO, 1992).Thousands of low-income residents, particularly those in the lowest two income quintiles, areacutely affected by these conditions and by losses of low-income rental housing stock (Hulchanski,1989). The Social Planning and Research Council of B.C. (SPARC) demonstrates that the currentGuaranteed Available Income for Need (GAIN) shelter allowance rates are not sufficient to enablerecipients to compete for a reasonable portion of the rental housing market. Table 1 shows thatincreases in the shelter portion of GAIN have not significantly increased the amount of rental stockaffordable to income assistance recipients (Goldberg, 1993).While problems of affordability and the risk of homelessness are not limited to particular33TABLE 1’Proportion of CMHC Surveyed Vancouver Rental Housing Availableto Those on GAIN Shelter AllowanceType of Number of Maximum GAIN October OctoberUnit People Shelter Allowance 1989 1992Bachelor 1 $325 2.0% 4.4%1 Bedroom 1 325 0.2% 0.7%2 520 23.9% 26.9%2 Bedroom 2 520 1.8% 1.4%3 610 11.0% 10.7%3 Bedroom 3 610 1.5% 0.5%4 650 7.0% 1.0%5 700 11.4% 15.3%6 730 11.4% 28.5%catchment areas in Vancouver (Clayton Research Associates Ltd et al, 1990), this case study has alimited scope. The Central Business District (CBD) and Strathcona (which includes the DowntownEastside) are examined since they are the two Vancouver residential areas most implicated byextreme shelter uncertainty (Map, Figure 1). Special needs cohorts from Vancouver’s generalpopulation are also profiled to identify their risk of homelessness.The following sections analyze and evaluate planning for the homeless and those at risk inVancouver. The questions addressed include: Does the City have a formal or functional definition1 Source: Michael Goldberg, SPARC, 1993.Note: Maximum Shelter Allowance and CMHC rent ranges were lower in 1989.34of “homelessness”? How has the City responded to identified needs?The range and diversity of acute housing need demonstrated in the Vancouver case supportsthe rationale for broadening the meaning of homelessness to include at risk groups. The implicationsof the City expanding its role and responsibilities are analyzed. Discussion of constraints onmunicipal action as well as regional considerations of planning for the homeless conclude the casestudy.35FIGURE 12Maps of Vancouver Case Study Area:Central Business District (CBD) and Strathcona NeighbourhoodsNL R4RD INLET11,WE5 -ENGLISH BA END, HA511NGS-..• SUNEISEunty PONTGEY KT FA(1EWPLEASANTKENS4NGIONEILEYPAE•14 EEGE PENFEEWCOLLINGOPRJDGEr.EEEISDALE FA5EW1EWSUNSET/J —The Central BusinessDistrict (CBD)4’ RbN - —WE5RNGZ15I AY END..SUNi5€FWEST —_____—KENNGRENFfl.EYrARr—COWNGADODCA7JPG€EFJSDALE FEEWMAOtEStrathconaDowntownEastside2 Source: City of Vancouver364.2 Vancouver Planning in Face of Shelter Uncertainty4.2.1 The History of Social HousingThe City of Vancouver has undertaken a variety of measures aimed at the supply andmaintenance of affordable housing in the downtown core and throughout the City.In 1975, the City first experimented with the role of comprehensive developer by creatingthe Vancouver Municipal Non-Profit Housing Corporation, which was mandated to house familiesand low-income singles in the “skid row” areas. The Corporation was terminated since it wasdetermined to be poorly structured and it was duplicating the role of existing non-profit groups(Carter and McAfee, 1990).The Social Planning Department (SPD) and other existing departments subsequently becameresponsible to plan for “social” housing needs in the municipality. In 1978, Vancouver Council (theCouncil) adopted several recommendations from the SPD’s Downtown Housing ImplementationCommittee, ostensibly to protect and maintain the inventory of affordable low-income housing. TheDirector of Permits and Licenses was authorized to exercise discretion in applying by-laws, inkeeping with the goal of retaining affordable SRO stock. (These measures lacked effectiveness toprotect this stock, as will be discussed later).Since the 1970s, the City has played a facilitator role by leasing land to non-profit sponsorsfor 60 years at 75% of market value. This “fair market” value was established by the Province (Cityof Vancouver, 1994). The City did not have to specifically budget for housing, rather it wasforegoing revenues by providing land from its land bank (City of Vancouver, 1981).In 1980, Vancouver’s first Social Housing Policy was developed. The City has been involvedin social housing by sharing construction costs, participating in the federal RRAP program and byenforcing building standards. The Planning Department recommended no major City intervention in37the housing market, though it recognized evidence of increasing need. Instead, the City emphasizedthe role of senior governments as the principal source of continued financial support. (City ofVancouver, 1979).In 1988, Vancouver’s core housing need was estimated at 20% of all households. The Cityset a precedent to require a 20% social housing inclusion in rezoned sites, particularly on propertieswhere surplus value was achieved, such as the south shore of False Creek and subsequent megadevelopment projects (Gray, p.d., 1994).The dual purpose of this “income-mix” zoning initiative is to assure the land supply for socialhousing while facilitating a more balanced community. However, under this initiative, actualallocation of units is dependent on senior government non-profit housing programs to cover the costsof development, construction and rent subsidization (Kraus, 1993).The City also has exacted contributions for social housing by collecting Development CostLevies for replacement housing in Downtown South (City of Vancouver, 1994). Litigationsurrounding the legality of these linkage fees continues (Readman, p.d., 1994).The Housing and Properties Department, created in 1990, has served as the primary planningbody for municipal housing initiatives. Housing and Properties works closely with the SocialPlanning Department, provincial and other agencies.While continuing its role in leasing land to non-profit sponsored housing developments, theCity also occasionally “tops-up” funding for cash-strapped projects through grants from its ($1million) Affordable Housing Fund (Gray, p.d., 1994).4.2.2 Present Status of City Planning for the HomelessThe City of Vancouver has not adopted a formal definition of homelessness. Nevertheless,38an informal definition functions as City policies and programs targeting the shelterless and those atrisk of homelessness are implemented.The City currently monitors the stock of low-income housing in the Downtown areas. Thisinventory and an Interim Policy for the Victory Square planning area are intended to encourageretention of existing buildings and to ensure that new construction is sympathetically scaled toexisting structures (Vaisbord, p.d., 1994). Rezoning for any development in the Downtown Eastsideis particularly geared toward additions to low-income residential stock. The area’s maximum densityallowance only grants a low floorspace ratio of 1.0 to new developments, unless 20% of their unitmix is comprised of social housing units (City of Vancouver, 1992b).Nevertheless, the one-to-one replacement of low-income units lost due to redevelopment orgentrification is only policy and the Council’s commitment to replacement units is not presentlyenforced under by-law (Raynor, p.d., 1994).The City has been directly involved in providing for low-income housing by purchasing andrenovating some SROs within the study area. (Once publically owned these are considered non-market housing) (Raynor, p.d., 1994). The City recognizes the need for SRO-type, low-incomehousing in neighbourhoods other than in the downtown core, since there are growing numbers forwhom this area is not suitable. Housing and Properties may consider, but has not committed to,developing an SRO-type housing project elsewhere in the City (Gray, p.d., 1994). The City alsogrants municipal funds to a variety of non-profit housing related service providers, such as theCarnegie Centre and the Dugout.Currently, municipal planning for social housing remains more reactive, than proactive. Dueto limited staffing and funding, the City usually follows the Province’s lead on initiatives. [Anexception was specific lobbying by the Social Planning Department in 1993 for provincial funds39targeting homeless street youth programs] (Brooks, p.d., 1994). With the contraction of federalfunds, the City appears resigned to reductions in the number of social housing completions. Theexpectation of adding 1 ,000 units per year is now considered “unrealistic” (City of Van., 1994).The Department of Housing and Properties employs a housing relocator who is responsiblefor outreach and frontline contact with shelterless persons. The Housing Relocator provides referralsto municipal and provincial services and to other agencies.As discussed in Chapter 2, there are many obstacles to correctly estimating the number ofhomeless in a given area. Vancouver’s homeless population is no exception. The Urban CoreShelterless Survey of the Strathcona Mental Health Team is the only available estimate, and its solefocus was shelterlessness in the Downtown Eastside. Figure 2 chronicles a gradual increase inshelterless people counted between 1989 and 1990. Due to its limited scope, the Urban Core Surveyboundaries excluded the West End and Mount Pleasant neighbourhoods, both known as popular“sleeping out” areas. The Survey Team therefore acknowledged that the figures underestimate thetotal number of shelterless in Vancouver (Buckley, 1990).The Urban Core Shelterless Committee observed that between 1986 and 1990, shelterfacilities reported a significant increase in demand for shelter beds. Prior to 1988, Vancouver’sshelter facilities had never experienced being full to capacity nor having to turn people away.Emergency facilities such as Lookout and Triage also reported a disturbing increase in the averagelength of stay in emergency accommodation (Buckley, 1990).According to a 1992 report, between 200 - 250 single adults sleep in shelters or hostels inGreater Vancouver (B.C. Commission on Housing Options, 1992).Emergency shelter turnaway figures range from 116 to 159 a month, for all reporting shelters(Buckley, 1990; O’Shannacery, p.d., 1994). The turnaway survey did not track the fmal40FIGURE 2Vancouver Urban Core Shelterless Survey 1989- 1990Source: The Urban Core Shelterless Survey of the Strathcona Mental Health Team41VANCOUVER URBAN CORE SHElTERLESS6050U,(0a,a,a,.cC,)0a).0Ez2100Dec-89 Jan-90 Feb-90 Mar-90 Apr-90destinations of those who had been turned away, so it is unclear how many were absolutelyshelterless. Presently there is no means of estimating the number of shelterless in Vancouver whodo not seek services at all.Emergency shelters are generally considered to be a “bandaid” response, rather than asolution, to homelessness. Though reluctant to direct new money away from the root causes ofhomelessness, local service providers concede that given the number of shelter turnaways, Vancouverpresently needs more emergency shelter facilities (Lookout Emergency Aid Society, 1994).In 1993, special “at risk” populations were identified by the Ministry of Housing, Recreationand Consumer Affairs (MHRC). Some funding was made available for municipal programming forthese targeted needs. While there is liaison between the City of Vancouver and the MHRC, these“at risk” groups were identified at the provincial level, without significant involvement of localservice providers.4.2.3 Other Significant Players Dealing with HomelessnessProvincialSince 1986, the federal government has been devolving responsibility for housing bydramatically reducing program funding and emphasizing increased cost-sharing with lower levels ofgovernment (Daly, l988pl; Hulchanski, 1989PL). Through a web of continuously-renegotiatedfunding arrangements, the B.C. Housing Management Commission (BCHMC) shares subsidizationcosts for social housing with the CMHC. BCHMC, a “quasi-Crown Corporation”, is also mandatedto determine (core) housing need and provide social housing for families, seniors and people withdisabilities, who cannot afford suitable accommodation in the private market (BCHMC, undated).In terms of construction of social housing, annual targets have consistently fallen short of42demonstrated need. Declines in social housing completions since 1986 are illustrated in Figure 3.Federal funding for new social housing was completely eliminated in 1993, however the Provincehas committed to maintain its portion of funding for new units in B.C.BCHMC has no official working definition of homelessness. Placement in BCHMC socialhousing is based on criteria of need, using indicators similar to the CMHC’s core housing needmodel. The major housing problems of people on the BCHMC waiting list are (McCririck, p.d.,1993):* Lack of affordability (the households are paying more than 30% of income on housing)* Inadequacy of present accommodation (over-crowding, poor conditions)Over 6,000 households are currently on the official BCHMC waiting list for the Lower Mainland(McCririck, p.d., 1994). Waiting lists are sometimes referred to as an indicator of local housingneed, however their usefulness as an accurate measure must be qualified.Waiting lists may underestimate those in acute housing need by excluding ineligible (Street)youths, new residents and refugees as well as those who are unaware of their eligibility to apply.Waiting lists may also overestimate need by double-counting applicants (Federation of CanadianMunicipalities, 1991).BCHMC contends that there are no [shelterless] homeless people on its waiting list (Westley,p.d., 1993). However, some of those 6,000 households are likely at risk of experiencinghomelessness. To gain placement on the waiting list applicants must demonstrate their core housingneed and, therefore, be marginally or precariously housed.BCHMC provides the limited stock of social housing on an emergency needs basis andprioritizes individual placement on its waiting list. This process informally assesses risk ofhomelessness and identifies a range of shelter uncertainty, known only to BCHMC.Funding for all emergency services, including homeless shelters and hostels, has historically431200 -1000 -800 -600 -400 -200 -0-FIGURE 34Total Annual Vancouver Social Housing Completions(1985 - 1993)1985 1986 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993LCompIetions-Source: CMHC44been separated from housing. Funding for shelters is allocated by the Ministry of Social Services.(A recent exception: transition houses for women are now funded by the Ministry of Women’sEquality) (Ratcliff, p. d., 1994).The Ministry of Housing, Recreation and Consumer Affairs (MHRC), the provincial ministryresponsible for BCHMC, has never carried out a systematic census of the homeless population inBritish Columbia. However, following recommendations from the 1992 Provincial Commission onHousing Options, MHRC recognized certain populations to be “at risk” and funded some programstargeting the needs of the “near homeless”.According to the MHRC, the criteria is blurred in determining who make up the homelesspopulation and who are at risk of homelessness. Some of the specific factors considered by MHRCinclude (Turner, p.d., 1993):* Shelterlessness and those in danger of becoming shelterless,* Physical inadequacy of a dwelling,* Affordability and Accessibility problemsMHRC also considers the issues of security of tenure, poverty and discrimination (against those withchildren or on income assistance) in establishing where individuals are on the continuum of shelteruncertainty. But the Ministry does not keep statistics on the number of households at risk ofhomelessness due to extreme affordability problems, such as high rent-to-income cost burdens.In 1993, the MHRC announced new funding to house people “at risk of homelessness”. TheVancouver projects were directed to serve special populations that had been identified (by MHRC)as a major concern: the mentally ill (particularly women), street youths and young single motherswith their children (MARH 1993-034). Prior to releasing 1994 funds, MHRC proposed a surveyof residents in the Downtown Eastside, recognizing that a significant number of “at risk” people livein that catchment area. However, there is no formula for deciding which populations are most in45need of services and priorities among these groups keep changing (Turner, p.d., 1993).Under its 1994/95 “Homeless At Risk Program” (HARP), MHRC has committed to adding150 units of second-stage housing throughout British Columbia (B.C. Housing, 1994). Due toconcern for regional equity issues, the program announcement stipulated that only about 60 of theseunits may be considered for the Lower Mainland (Woodward, p.d., 1994).Submissions made by non-profits, responding to the Ministry’s future Calls for Expressionsof Interest, will be reviewed by MHRC to determine allocation of funding for these new units(Turner, p.d., 1994). According to MHRC, high quality proposals of the most demonstrated need,and with local government support and involvement will likely receive the funding (Chester; Ratcliff,p.d., 1994).Third SectorThe non-profit sector is another active service provider to both the marginally housed andthe literally homeless. Vancouver’s emergency (homeless) shelters and hostels are predominantlymanaged by non-profits or church organizations. Table 2 outlines the emergency shelters availablein Vancouver.The Downtown Eastside Residents Association (DERA) is the most prominent third sectorplayer in Vancouver. In 1973, this resident organization championed the renaming of the“Downtown Eastside”, to signal its goal for locals to improve their own lives and reclaim theirneighbourhood.DERA maintains its pivotal roles of assisting with housing relocation and acting as advocatefor all of those experiencing shelter uncertainty. The Association is particularly concerned with46TABLE 2Vancouver Emergency Shelters and Related ServicesName of Shelter Service ClientsAge 19 and overThe Lookout Beds Women and menTriage Beds Women and menCrosswalk Emergency Sleeping Women and men(sofas and floor)Union Gospel Mission Open only if other Women and menshelters are fullCatholic Charities Beds Men onlyDunsmuir House Beds Men onlyHarbour Light Booked only throughEmergency ServicesThrough Emergency Services or Adolescent Services:Fineday HouseHelping Spirit Lodge NativeHomesteadKate Booth House Women onlyPowell Place Women’s Shelter Women onlyRape Relief and Shelter Women onlyThe Safe House YouthSources: Housing and Properties Department, City of Vancouver and Ministry of Social Services47maintaining affordable housing stock in the area, primarily comprised of SROs and rooming houses.DERA periodically chronicled the steady loss of SRO units to gentrification and other market forces,including the impact of EXPO 86 and neighbouring mega-project developments. Since 1990,however, funding constraints have impeded DERA’s maintenance of statistics (Kellum, p.d., 1994).The newly established Downtown Granville Tenants’ Association, an offshoot of DERA,fulfils a similar role for residents of its catchment area, focusing more on the needs of area streetyouth.484.3 An Overview of the At Risk Homeless Population4.3.1 Profiles of SRO and Rooming House ResidentsThe discussion in Chapter Two reveals that the majority of the “marginally housed” arerenters, as opposed to home-owners. Renters who are vulnerable to being shut out of the privatehousing market, due to low incomes and high rent burdens (greater than 45 % of income on sheltercosts) are recognized to be at some risk of homelessness.Housing affordability problems of this magnitude persist in Vancouver’s CBD and Strathconaneighbourhoods, especially as area rents have risen faster than incomes in recent years (McCririck,1985). Many residents, particularly singles, subsist on incomes well below the poverty line. Censustrack data reveals that low-income households make up 60 % of all private households in thecatchment area (City of Vancouver, 1994dr).These neighbourhoods have long been associated with homelessness and have traditionallybeen the source of affordable housing for those at the lowest end of the private housing market.Single Room Occupancy residential hotels and rooming houses (SROs) are officially grouped underthe general category of lodging houses in the City’s Standards of Maintenance By-law (No. 5462)(Hulchanski,l989pl). The majority contain 100 sq.ft. single room units, where tenants usually sharebathroom facilities and (occasionally) cooking facilities. Most rooms are furnished with a bed, adresser and usually a sink (City of Vancouver, 1993c).The relationship between lodging house rental rates and the maximum shelter allowance fromGAIN is an important measure of affordability (McCririck, 1985). GAIN is the main income sourcefor 45-69% of SRO residents (Butt, 1991; Butt 1993). In Downtown South, the average SRO rentin 1993 was $343 per month, about $20 higher than GAIN shelter allowance for a single person(Butt, 1993). SRO tenants typically pay 60% or more of their income on shelter (City of Vancouver,491993c), making them acutely vulnerable to even slight changes in market conditions.The 1991 City of Vancouver Survey of SRO residents revealed that nearly 87% of residentshad not recently made use of any other housing option. Within the six months prior to the study,15% of residents had slept eight nights in an emergency shelter, and 11 % had slept twenty-fournights on the street (Butt, 1991).“Doubling-up” is another marking of vulnerability. The practice can lead to overcrowdingand destabilization of an individual’s shelter situation. Not all persons who double-up areimmediately vulnerable to homelessness, they may only be vulnerable to displacement. However,doubling-up is often a last step before shelterlessness.There are very few alternatives at the lowest end of the private housing market for individualsto cycle through. Aside from the emergency shelters, the alternatives include fmding another“doubling up” arrangement, leaving Vancouver or being out on the street. To the extent individualslack other affordable options, they are at risk of experiencing homelessness.Recently, doubling-up is perceived to be on the rise, though its prevalence is difficult toestimate since no one gathers evidence of this phenomenon (Kellum, p.d., 1993).Some unscrupulous SRO landlords benefit from the situation of more persons per room, forif more than $15 is charged per night for a room it no longer comes under the Tenancy Act. Theserooms are then covered under the Hotel and Innkeepers Act. Since “lodgers” have no security oftenure they can be evicted more easily (Tenants’ Rights Action Coalition, nd).Until 1989, SRO residents were considered to be “hotel guests”, regardless of their lengthof occupancy. These residents had no tenant rights until DERA successfully lobbied the provincefor an amendment to the B.C. Residential Tenancy Act.Illegal evictions are reported to be commonplace, despite the arguable protection of the50Tenancy Act (Hay and Reynolds, 1993; Tenants Rights Action Coalition, 1994). According toDERA, 2-3 illegal evictions are reported to them each week (Bayfield, p.d., 1994).Some suggestion of increased overcrowding in the study area can be drawn from the 1984-1986 Lodging House Surveys. Shared and couple households increased from 7.6% in 1984 to11.2% in 1986 with greater increases occurring in the market SROs, which generally have smallerone room units, than in non-market housing (City of Vancouver, 1987). Service providers contendthat many women serially double-up with men in order to avoid shelterlessness (Graves, p.d., 1994).This practice reduces the apparent incidence of shelterlessness in women and masks the number ofsingle women at risk of homelessness.Given the precarious nature of tenure and access, the high rent-to-income burdens and lackof housing alternatives, most residents of market SROs and lodging houses should be considered“homeless” (Butt, 1993; DERA, 1993). Discrimination and other markings of vulnerability,illustrated in the following profiles, may further exacerbate the problem of risk.4.3.2 Special “At Risk” PopulationsVancouver’s downtown core is in many ways a valuable regional and provincial resource.The anonymity, tolerance of varied behaviours, and availability of social and health services attractspeople from other parts of the city, region, and province (Bone; Gray; Piper; p.d., 1994). TheLookout Emergency Shelter reports that 30% of all clients are from outside Vancouver (LookoutSociety, 1993).Some populations who are considered to be at risk of homelessness are profiled below. Itis instructive to profile these groups, to identify the range and diversity of acute housing need inVancouver. This is not an exhaustive investigation of all such cohorts, but rather a starting point to51consider a broader local meaning for homelessness, one that includes those at risk of homelessness,The Psychiatrically DisabledIn the 1970s, initiatives to discharge the psychiatrically disabled from long-term institutionswas accepted as a commendable objective. However, the down-sizing of psychiatric institutions hasnot been accompanied by sufficient funding for scattered-site residential facilities and community-based care to adequately integrate many of these clients into the broader community. (GVRHD,1992). “Hard to house” is often used as a euphemism to describe those who are dual-diagnosed witha psychiatric or mental disability, and a substance abuse problem.A 1979 study of psychiatric clients in the Downtown Eastside concluded that the North HealthUnit was regularly forced to overspend on Emergency Housing accommodation (costs paid inaddition to clients’ regular income support). Emergency Housing, then the only option available,was an extremely expensive stop-gap method to deal with housing crises. The additional cost ofcommunity workers’ time was reportedly wasted, since worker time was spent with “hard to house”clients who ultimately could not be helped to fmd suitable housing (Beggs, 1979). This study wassuccessfully used to indicate the cost-savings of building more adequate temporary housing sheltersin Vancouver.There are currently many hidden costs of dealing with the “hard to house”, being born bymunicipal and non-profit services. While exact cost analysis is not available, the persistent lack ofappropriate beds/housing units for psychiatric clients reportedly places increasing burdens onexpensive police and hospital services (GVRHD, 1992).The psychiatrically disabled are at risk of losing their housing if the services they need toremain is the community are not provided. Within the boundaries of the Strathcona Mental Health52Team alone there are about 1 ,000 mentally ill persons, and only half are receiving adequate services(Buckley, p.d., 1993).The psychiatrically disabled generally live in poverty, cannot compete well for markethousing and are often evicted from SROs due to their behaviour (Ramsey, p.d., 1994). Currentlywaiting lists for semi-independent (supported) living housing units are between 2-4 years long.Service providers generally agree that one of the most immediate needs for at risk groups inVancouver is supported-living housing for the psychiatrically disabled (Ramsey; Graves; Buckley;O’Shannacery; p.d., 1994).Street YouthIn 1993, public attention focused briefly on the increasing needs of Street youth when theadvocacy group, Street Skids in Distress (SKID), organized demonstrations of those living “outside”.Subsequently a six-bed Vancouver “safe house” for week-long transition stays was funded by theMHRC. Vancouver’s Social Planning Department coordinates planning for services through itsInterministerial Committee for Street Youth (Brooks, p.d., 1994).One of the difficulties in providing services to youth who are homeless or at risk ofhomelessness is that the definition of “youth” differs for each provincial ministry. For SocialServices in B.C., “youth” under 16 are not eligible for income assistance without a referral from asocial worker (so as to discourage youth from moving out on their own). Those without employmentincome have few alternatives to provide for their housing, once they leave their parents’ home.A comparison of Vancouver and Toronto indicated younger ages and, higher rates of druguse and violent histories in Vancouver’s street youth population (McCarthy and Hagan, 1992). InOntario, youth can leave home at 16 years and have access to social services. However in B.C.,53parents remain financially obligated for their children until they reach age 19 (McCarthy, p.d.,1994).Adolescent Street Services provides support to some 300 street youths in the DowntownSouth/Granville Mall area alone. Roughly one third of these youths are from each: GreaterVancouver, the rest of the Province and other parts of Canada. The numbers of Street youthreportedly rise in the summer months, with increasing trends of younger and addicted youths.(Cooke, p.d., 1994).There are usually three or four semi-organized group “squats” of 15-20 youths going on inabandoned buildings around the City at any one time. This cycle of collective living often continueswhen one individual secures a market rental accommodation. Others will double-up with them untilan eviction takes place. (Cooke, p.d., 1994).Young mothers, youth involved in sex-trade work and those with substance abuse problemsare considered among the most at risk of experiencing shelterlessness (Cooke, p.d., 1994).Persons with HIV/AIDSIn Vancouver, Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) infection and Acquired ImmuneDeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) have become the leading causes of premature death in men (Hogg etal, 1994b). There are an estimated 600 HIV-infected women and more than 6,500 HIV-infected menin British Columbia, the majority of whom live in Vancouver or Victoria. Locally, the HIVepidemic among women is considered to be at a relatively early stage. Up to 50% of HIV-infectedwomen may not know they are infected. By comparison, 75 % of gay men in Vancouver have beentested for HIV. (BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS, 1993-94).A British Columbia study shows that following their HIV diagnosis, many individuals relocate54to Vancouver, where 75% of provincial AIDS care is provided at St. Paul’s Hospital (B.C. Centrefor Excellence, 1993).Research indicates that persons are much less likely to be employed after HIV diagnosis thanbefore. They are also more likely to be on some form of income assistance, such as a long-termdisability pension or GAIN (Hogg et al, 1994a). The Persons With Aids Society (PWA) reports thata significant number of men with HIV/AIDS must involuntarily double-up in crowded, unsuitableaccommodations in order to afford rents in the West End, and to be close to St. Paul’s hospital careand related services (Bone, p.d., 1994). Of those who are ill and receiving the GAIN allowance,most can only afford an SRO unit. However, this is unsuitable accommodation for ill people whorequire an ensuite bathroom and cooking facilities to meet their physical needs (Rupps, p.d., 1994).As with other low-income renters experiencing extreme affordability problems in Vancouver,those who are HIV-positive may be at risk of homelessness. In addition their housing status may beparticularly precarious due to the sudden loss of employment income, discrimination and loss ofpersonal support networks (Manson Willms, Hayes, Hulchanski, 1991).Under-reporting of HIV infection and AIDS is a common problem throughout the developedworld (Hogg, 1994). In Canada, little is known about HIV-infection rates in certain populations,including aboriginal peoples, ethnic minorities and street youth (B.C. Centre for Excellence, 1993).Service providers contend that many residents in the Downtown Eastside are likely to beundiagnosed/unreported HIV-positive, since testing carries such a stigma (Graves; Bone, p.d., 1994).For those with HIV/AIDS, secure housing is an important health issue, and also a key tohospital utilization patterns (Goldstone et al, 1994). Higher socio-economic status has been shownto be associated with slower disease progression (Schehter et al, 1994). Further research is neededto estimate the number of persons at risk in Vancouver, and to evaluate the potential social and55health cost savings that stable housing for HIV-positive persons may provide.Women with Violent PartnersIt has been estimated that at least one in ten Canadian women is physically abused by herhusband [male partner] (Delgaty, 1985). In general, little attention has been given to the needs of“the hidden homeless” - women and their children precariously housed in abusive situations (Dalyl988pl). By the United Nation’s definition, these women and children can be described as homelessdue to the lack of personal safety in their dwelling and their precarious tenure status.The housing alternatives available to these women are particularly limited. The ministriesof Social Services and of Women’s Equality are currently responsible for B.C. transition houses,which provide temporary accommodation to women fleeing violence and their children.A number of non-profit societies operate transition homes in the Greater Vancouver area.Women often prefer to leave their home municipality for reasons of safety and anonymity. Barriersto access of social services exist for some women. For example, placement in transition houses maybe more difficult for those whose first language is not English, or for elderly women, whose abusemay have extended for longer periods of time.While many of the transition houses keep statistics on the number of women turned away dueto lack of available space, most were reluctant to share this information. In the past, these statisticshave been perceived as tools of discrimination against women of colour and single mothers.Emily Murphy House (North Vancouver) did report that from 1991-1993, between 440 and510 women and children per year had to be turned away, due to lack of space. Referrals betweentransition houses are common. However, the cost of doing follow-up on referrals is not available,so it is not known how many went without service.56Since women usually leave their violent partner twelve times before “making the break”, awomen must be referred from a transition house to gain priority for the limited number of availablesuites. (Graves, p.d., 1994). According to a B.C.IYukon Society of Transition Houses report, theshortage of second stage housing (3-12 month secure placements) is a serious problem (Smith, 1992).SummaryWhile the City of Vancouver has no formal definition of homelessness, the above review ofthe City’s social housing initiatives indicates that an informal definition of homelessness has evolved,and continues to function. This informal definition guides the implementation of City policies andprograms targeting the various groups experiencing shelter uncertainty.The range and diversity of housing need in Vancouver demonstrates the broader meaning ofacute shelter uncertainty. These profiles do not provide an exhaustive investigation of all at riskgroups. Rather they serve as a starting point to consider a broader meaning for homelessness, onethat includes those local groups who are at risk of homelessness.In order to gauge the effectiveness of Vancouver’s policy and programming for the homelessand those at risk of homelessness, third sector service providers and representatives from thedifferent levels of government were surveyed. The results of that survey are discussed in thesections which follow.574.4 Analysis of Vancouver’s Approaches to HomelessnessService providers and representatives from all levels of government were surveyed to evaluatethe effectiveness of the City of Vancouver’s responses to homelessness. The majority of surveyrespondents support a broadening of the definition of homelessness to include groups at risk ofexperiencing homelessness. Respondents encouraged the City to undertake the responsibility ofimproving its monitoring of the level of acute social housing need in Vancouver. They encouragedthe City to use this information to strengthen its role as an advocate with the Provincial governmentregarding this need.Most survey respondents also supported the continuation of the City’s present involvementin the development of low-income housing in Vancouver. They acknowledged that the City isunlikely to undertake an expanded role as a comprehensive developer of new units, particularly giventhe current political climate at City Hall. However, survey respondents proposed some significantchanges and additions to City initiatives.4.4.1 Evaluation of the City’s InitiativesProtection of Low-income Housing StockSince SRO residential hotels and rooming houses have provided cities with some of thelowest-cost unsubsidized housing (Lincoln, 1980), they are valuable and worthy of protection.In 1989, Vancouver City Council made a verbal commitment to maintain the existing stockof affordable low-income housing in the Downtown Eastside (Vaisbord, p.d., 1994). The Cityestablished some development restrictions in order to attempt to retain the existing stock.Unfortunately, some of these initiatives have been weak or ineffective as protection of low-incomemarket housing. (The steady reduction of SRO and rooming house stock in Vancouver’s DowntownCore is chronicled in Figure 4).58FIGURE 46Total Vancouver Downtown Core SROHotel and Rooming House Stock(1978 - 1994)Total Number of Units12,0006,000 -4,0002,000 -0 I I I1978 1984 1986 1992 19946 Source: City of Vancouver59For example, the City measure intended to control the number of demolitions requires thatall redevelopment permits and approvals must be in place prior to a demolition (McAfee, p.d.,1994). This is a weak control since it does not stop demolitions from taking place, at best it onlyserves to slow them down.In addition, there is no formal link between demolition and conversion controls, and theCity’s informal policy of one to one replacement of low-income housing units. Prior to EXPO 86,pressure on SROs was monitored by the City, yet there was no direct municipal intervention as SROswere converted into tourist hotels. Between 1984-1986, at least 15 hotels switched from beingmonthly residential accommodations to daily tourist rentals (McCririck, 1985), creating a net lossof SRO units in those years. As stated earlier, the one-to-one replacement policy is not currentlyenforced by by-law.Redevelopment pressures in the study area continue, stimulated by projects such as theInternational Village and the proposed Central Waterfront Port Plan (Butt, 1993; McCullough, 1994).City representatives and others generally acknowledge that SRO residents should be consideredhomeless. Displacement is a constant threat, since residents do not possess security of tenure orcontinued, regular access to their dwellings, and they lack affordable housing alternatives.To demonstrate its concern for existing low-income housing in the downtown core, the Cityperiodically monitors this stock and provides a basic inventory of the area’s market and non-markethousing.From the beginning of its inventory-taking, the City has been inconsistent in tracking trendsin affordability. The surveys completed in 1986, 1987, and 1991 included resident surveys, andspecifically tracked rent-to-income ratios of area residents. However, since resident surveys areexpensive, the 1992-1994 surveys have exclusively focused on monitoring the stock (Raynor, p.d.,601994). These changes in survey methods prevent the City from monitoring those at risk ofexperiencing homelessness due to extreme affordability problems, and make estimation of trendsdifficult.Third sector advocates and City representatives agree that both maintenance of existing SROstock and the building of new replacement self-contained units are required to meet the need ofexisting tenants. However, there appears to be disagreement over how much progress has been madein the Downtown Eastside. City surveys continue to report net increases in the low-income stock,through rehabilitation and construction of new non-market replacement units (City of Vancouver,1993c; 1994a). Yet DERA contends that some units identified in the City’s surveys as replacementunits should not be included as such (Kellum, p.d., 1994). Some are re-opened units in SROs thatmay have been closed (due to poor maintenance or available only to tourists) prior to the base countfor the City inventory. The survey results may overstate increases to the low-income stock or masknet losses of SRO units.The City does acknowledge inventory difficulties and that the distinction between SRO roomsand tourist hotels is not always clear cut. Future City inventories intend to address these issues (Cityof Vancouver, 1994a). Meanwhile, all SRO rooms, even those in “mixed” tourist/residential hotels,are counted in the survey.The issue of City enforcement of maintenance standards is another area of contention. ManySROs exist largely because liquor license regulations require a residential component for a publicense (Gray, p.d., 1994). Some contend that the City could be stricter in its monitoring andenforcement of the building maintenance standards. The City could threaten to withdraw publicenses; levy fines for delinquency or legally complete required renovations on behalf of delinquentlandlords and then charge the costs against the property tax rolls.61Unfortunately, such measures wield a double-edged sword and may serve to protect theexisting stock, but not the existing tenants. Even marginal rent increases following rehabilitation ofunits can outprice existing tenants from their accommodation.There are also an estimated 20,000-26,000 illegal secondary suites in Vancouver (Kraus,1993), roundly acknowledged as a vital source of affordable rental units. An estimated one third ofsingle family dwellings in RS-1 zoned areas contain such a suite, to serve as a revenue-producing“mortgage helper” (McAfee, p.d., 1994). Most of these suites do not conform to the City’s buildingstandard and maintenance codes, and much of the rental income likely goes unreported.From 1986-1992 The City’s Secondary Suite Program rezoned 47% of single family (RS-1)neighbourhoods, permitting them to contain a secondary suite. In the remaining RS-1neighbourhoods, those with illegal suites must upgrade them to a standard “family suite” or phaseout the suite after a maximum of ten years (Kraus, 1993). Evaluation of this program has not takenplace. The long term effects on the availability of this rental stock are not yet known, however theCity estimates that few affordable units have been taken off the market as a result of the program(Kraus, 1993).The City was commended by survey respondents for its temporary moratorium on evictionsfrom live-work studios in the Victory Square area. Even though many of these units are notconforming to building and maintenance codes, the City has decided not to enforce its by-laws.Despite this temporary protection, however, the risk of displacement of residents remains over thelonger term.Construction of New StockWhile a worthy objective, annual targets of permanent social housing have persistently fallen62short of demonstrated need. As illustrated in Figure 3 earlier, the number of Vancouver socialhousing unit completions has steadily declined, while the need for non-market housing has beenconstant with population growth (City of Vancouver, 1992a; McCririck, p.d., 1994).Creating new housing that reaches the core needy with incomes in the lowest quintiles hasalways been a problem because of the deep subsidies required by such tenants (McAfee, p.d., 1994).Delivery of social housing to these groups is now even more difficult, due to inadequate fundingcommitments from the federal and provincial governments.The City originally identified social housing as a regional issue and committed to providingits “fair share” within the context of the Regional District (City of Vancouver, 1981). The Citycontends that it has maintained the level of social housing at 9% of all Vancouver housing stock, andthat an allocation of 400 new units per year is a reasonable goal to maintain this level (City ofVancouver, 1994). The City therefore implies its current level of commitment to be adequate andreasonable.However, survey respondents suggested otherwise. Under the City’s 20% income-mix(inclusionary) zoning initiative, actual allocation of units is dependent on funding commitments fromsenior governments. The land made available by developers can sit vacant when the funds for socialhousing are not made available by senior governments during the construction of the market units(Kraus, 1993). Concerns regarding stigma and the lack of social mixing between high-end marketand subsidized tenants have also arisen (McCullough, 1994).The City was criticized for its reluctance to explore alternative uses of the 20% socialhousing component exacted from new developments. Survey respondents proposed a more activesocial housing fund or land bank as a more flexible means to pool land and make it available to nonprofit housing sponsors. This alternative could also provide a mechanism by which individual63citizens could bequeath donations of land for future social housing projects (Edgar; Walker; p.d.,1994).City representatives maintain that the on-site development of social housing units is a highpriority, to contribute to the City’s social mix. In 1993, Council agreed that “pay-in-lieu”contributions could be extracted from developers, but this option would only be considered as a lastresort, on a site by site basis. The City is concerned about the costs of surveying land to determinethe commensurate contribution value and the legal complexities of exacting “pay-in-lieu”contributions. Also, the mega-project precedent of 20% cannot always be negotiated from lowervalued developments (Gray, p.d., 1994).Some survey respondents suggested that the City could be even more generous in its land-lease agreements with non-profit housing sponsors since land costs are such a heavy determinant ofhousing affordability. An alternative appraisal of “fair value” would be for the City to lease the landat 65-70 % of freehold market value rather than the current 75% of market value. [The “fair value”may be contentious since there is not as developed a market for leases in Vancouver, compared tocities like London or Hong Kong] (Hazleden, p.d., 1994). In any case, this suggestion wouldrequire provincial approval to authorize such a change in lease “fair value” policy.A survey respondent also suggested that the City could encourage the Province to purchaseSROs outright. The rationale for this idea is that over the years the Province has already been“purchasing” Vancouver SROs, many times over, through GAIN shelter subsidies to individualtenants.These alternative measures invite fUrther investigation of the limitations, real or perceived,that prohibit municipal initiative.644.4.2 Limitations on Municipal ActionPolitical ConstraintsSurvey respondents agreed that a lack of political will at all levels of government was oneof the greatest obstacles to implementation of locally-devised solutions to acute housing need. TheCity of Vancouver maintains its argument that financial responsibility for social housing restsprimarily with senior levels of government. In terms of its own capital development commitments,the City is currently focused on the its new Main Public Library (Gray, p.d., 1994).The City has been reluctant to formally define the social problem of homelessness due todistrust of the media’s reaction and of raising public expectations of a municipal response (Butt, p.d.,1994). Survey respondents noted that Vancouver’s Council prefers to act on social issues which areframed so that City action will serve to manage or solve a problem. Council tends to place lowerpriority or attention on issues which would overwhelm municipal resources (McAfee, p.d., 1994).Nevertheless, the City was praised by many respondents for its steadfast resistance to Not-In-My-Backyard (NIMBY) sentiment in the siting of Special Needs Residential Facilities (SNRF). Thischallenge to NIMBY exemplifies Council’s ability to champion the social value of meeting localhousing needs.Financial ConstraintsTraditionally there are four key service areas over which municipalities exercise financialresponsibility: Police, Fire, Water and Sewers, and Street Repair. A municipality’s ability toredirect funds and trim its budget is limited by these traditional responsibilities (McAfee; Robinson,p.d., 1994).Municipalities are also required to maintain balanced budgets, so legally the City of65Vancouver cannot run a deficit. Municipal revenues are restricted to collection of property taxes,business licenses and fees, and fines.Without taxpayer support, the City of Vancouver could not independently fund completionof social housing units. The City presently lacks the legislative authority to independently borrowthe required millions for such projects. Capital borrowing is possible only if approved by a citywidereferendum. In recent years, Vancouver voters have twice voted down referendums which wouldhave authorized capital grants to fund social housing in the City (McAfee, p.d., 1994).Legal ConstraintsAs a creature of the province, a municipality is inherently limited in its legal authority, sothat it cannot act independent of provincial enabling legislation. These legal limits on municipalinnovation include the budgetary framework described above. The legal framework also constrainsthe City’s ability to explore alternative uses of the monies it exacts for social housing and to createmore innovative funding arrangements with non-profits sponsors. [However, the District of Surreyhas been less reticent than Vancouver to explore “pay-in-lieu” alternatives] (Kraus, 1993).The Council is empowered by the Vancouver Charter to create by-laws which restrict realproperty development within City boundaries. Some survey respondents suggest that the City hasnot gone far enough to exercise the powers it has to zone land and regulate development in the Cityof Vancouver.Within its existing authority, the City is able to be more involved in the regulation of realproperty development. However, given the present underlying political theme of “don’t thwartdevelopment”, Vancouver’s Council is highly unlikely to support increased regulation (Butt; Piper;McAfee, p.d., 1994).66Some social housing advocates may insist on greater intervention by senior governments inthe real estate market, to protect the lowest-income market stock (eg. provincial expropriation ofSROs). However, the extensive legislative reform required to alter the structure of the real estatemarket lacks general political and community support.Despite these political, financial and legal limitations, the City has the potential to play amore proactive role in planning for the homeless. Presently, the homeless and those at risk are notidentified by the City, instead they are folded into descriptions of core need for social housing. Theterms of reference have begun to change at the provincial level, however, with the introduction ofthe Homeless/At Risk Housing Program (HARP).4.4.3 Establishing PartnershipsCurrently the Provincial government encourages “partnerships” between funding agencies andother groups, so that financial responsibility for projects is shared between ministries. Thegovernment proposes that these partnerships can empower the community and be more inclusive toachieve multiple goals (B.C. Housing, 1994).The process of developing non-market housing through partnerships creates newopportunities, yet has practical drawbacks as well. The varying boundaries of service providers(Health, Social Services, Housing) and of different municipalities combine to make social housingdelivery a more complex, expensive exercise. For example, recently completed social housingprojects have experienced difficulties since these new partnerships require complex land-lease andother agreements, resulting in increased project timelines and higher legal fees (Edgar, p.d., 1994).Coordination which fosters compatibility among the various “partner” agencies is essential to thesuccess of these partnerships.67Along these lines, municipalities such as the City of Portland, Oregon have been successfulin creating a network of involved agencies and community groups to address homelessness. Similarloosely based networks of service providers exist in Vancouver, such as the Urban Core Committeein the Downtown Eastside and the Lower Mainland Network for Affordable Housing. Howeverthese looser networks are not directly linked to municipal planning functions. The City could createa link between government and third sector groups through the Housing and Properties Department,similar to the Social Planning Department’s effort, the Interministerial Committee on Street Youth.4.4.4 Regional IssuesAt the regional level, the Greater Vancouver Regional District (GVRD) has been far lessinvolved in the development of social housing, compared to the Capital Regional District (CRD) inVictoria (Robinson, p.d., 1994). The CRD currently runs an active portfolio of social housing,however the Greater Vancouver Housing Corporation (GVHC) is curtailing its already limitedefforts.Vancouver Downtown Core housing stock can be viewed as an important regional andprovincial resource, worthy of protection. Older housing stock generally rents for less andVancouver has traditionally served as an ample source of such accommodation, particularly forseasonal resource sector workers from around the province. The concentration of social services andanonymous street culture located in the area, reinforces its convenience and attractiveness (Gray;Bone; Piper; p.d., 1994).The effects of many social problems are exported to Vancouver from elsewhere in theprovince and from out-of-province (Chester; Morrissey; p.d., 1994). Psychiatrically disabledpersons from Alberta have even reportedly been given one way bus tickets to Vancouver (Ramsey,681994). As this in-migration continues, attention to the cumulative impact on Vancouver and on theregion is advisable.Social planning is not presently carried out by the GVRD. Nevertheless, the GVRD doeshave a Social Issues Committee which could examine the issue of homelessness in the region. Localresponses by member municipalities to local issues regarding the risk of homelessness could beexplored. For example, other GVRD member municipalities, besides Vancouver, may need toconsider building or improving emergency shelters facilities. This orientation toward betterdevelopment of local responses corresponds with the current provincial government emphasis onequity in provision of services and the “closer to home” theme of placing services.Nevertheless, it is no simple matter to identify solutions which manage or stabilize thecomplex social problem of homelessness. Proximity of services may not alter the migration patternsof homeless persons. Service providers caution that the homeless and those at risk may not gravitateto where services are introduced, since they may prefer the anonymity and opportunity of B.C. ‘sbiggest city.The effectiveness of redistributing services must be monitored, so that resources areappropriately allocated. In this regard, the City’s regular inventory of low-income stock could beexpanded to monitor mobility trends of downtown core residents.While the City does play a relatively influential role in the local housing market, Vancouverdoes not have a closed housing market. It is important to note that the affordability of Vancouverhousing (or lack thereof) is also responsive to regional, provincial and national trends and policies,and these influences cannot be reversed solely by local effort.694.5 Summary of Case StudyThe political, financial and legal limitations on municipal involvement in social housing havebeen outlined. Given these budgetary and other constraints, it is important to maintain clarity overthe areas of responsibility of different levels of government. Despite all the constraints, the Cityhas the potential to play a significant role in planning for the homeless and those at risk.Survey respondents generally agreed that more low-income housing options are neededoutside the downtown core. The City has experience combatting NIMBY sentiments and maycontinue in this role to generate community support for social housing throughout Vancouver.Many of the City’s initiatives to preserve low-income housing stock are temporary or stopgap measures, which do not directly identify the extent of homelessness and risk of homelessness inVancouver. Within the confines of existing municipal authority, planning for the homeless and thoseat risk can be made more effective.Currently, the City restricts its direct involvement in new housing development, primarilyby leasing City land to non-profit sponsors. Yet it could be more innovative and proactive byfacilitating increased collaboration efforts and monitoring acute shelter uncertainty in the localcommunity.Advocacy has proven to be an effective tool to gain provincial support for locally identifiedhousing need. For example, the introduction of the HARP program followed active municipallobbying efforts. The City of Vancouver should improve monitoring to demonstrate the crediblebasis for increased social housing funding from senior governments.705. IMPLICATIONS FOR MUNICIPAL POLICY AND PLANNINGThis chapter outlines specific recommendations which flow from the analysis of theVancouver case. The discussion of broadening the concept of homelessness concludes with anassessment of the general implications for municipal policy and planning for the homeless.5.1 Recommendations for the Vancouver CaseIdentify and Monitor Homeless/At RiskMost survey respondents acknowledged a continuum of shelter uncertainty. Respondentssupported an expanded classification for “homeless” which includes the shelterless, those inemergency shelters or without secure residences, and those at risk of losing their housing. The lackof a common meaning for “at risk homeless” remains an obstacle to clearly identifying the range ofits cohorts, and therefore, to estimating the size of Vancouver’s total at risk population.The new provincial Homeless/At Risk Housing Program (HARP) literally acknowledges theneed for identifying at risk groups. This provincial recognition should be reflected in City ofVancouver initiatives, currently it is not.The City should facilitate a collaborative public process to identify specific at risk groups anddefine the local meaning of homelessness. This process would include the homeless/at riskthemselves and would facilitate greater understanding of the concept.Meanwhile, over the near term, Vancouver residents of SRO hotels and rooming housesshould be identified as homeless/at risk. City measures aimed at preserving this lowest-income stockshould reflect the reality of this risk, and be amended to assure longer term protection from residentdisplacement by formalizing development requirements of one-to-one replacement of units.The allocation of provincial housing funds is a political process and spending priority is71contingent on overall provincial budget negotiations as well as demonstration of housing needs(Chester, p.d., 1994). In order to rationalize the funding of more social housing units in Vancouver,more thorough monitoring of the local parameters of homelessness and risk of homelessness isrequired. The City is well-positioned to be informed about the local nature of acute housing needand to act as an advocate with the provincial government.Under the 1994 HARP program, 150 new units of second stage housing per year will beadded throughout British Columbia. (These funds may be renewed each year). Calls for Expressionsof Interest, submitted by non-profits, will be reviewed by MHRC to determine allocation of thefunding. Proposals with the most demonstrated need, and local government support and involvementwill likely receive the funding (BC Housing, 1994).The CMHC may also allocate one-time grants (without subsidies) to non-profit housingprojects, funded from recent federal cost-savings surplus. A credible inventory of need is criticalto legitimize any funding requests for these funds (Hazleden, p.d., 1994).It is therefore timely and useful to break down the problem of risk of homelessness byidentif’ing local at risk groups. By monitoring this problem more closely at the municipal level, theCity can more adequately perform its role as an advocate.Develop Collaborative Efforts and Expand Facilitator RoleThe tasks of monitoring SRO demolitions and citywide evictions have periodically beenundertaken by non-profits, such as DERA and TRAC. However, their limited funding restricts theirability to continue.Joint monitoring efforts with non-profit partners working ‘in the field” would likely resultin greater credibility and appropriate, accurate monitoring programs, given the discrepancies over72the accuracy of the City’s inventory of low-income housing stock. The City could also gain a moreaccurate estimate of the number of shelterless by monitoring turnaways from emergency shelters withthe assistance of the shelters themselves.The City could initiate joint health-housing status assessments for particular at risk groups,in collaboration with partners such as the Ministry of Health or Social Services. These tasks wouldlikely have minimal additional funding requirements, and could ultimately generate provincial cost-savings.The City of Vancouver facilitates the establishment of partnerships as it leases land to nonprofit housing sponsors. This facilitator role ought to be expanded to develop a network of allservice providers dealing with the homeless and those at risk, through the Housing and PropertiesDepartment (including the City’s Social Planning Department and provincial agents such as SocialServices).Through such a network, the City can further support non-profit housing sponsors by helpingto develop their capacity to deliver housing and to gain access to HARP funding. This networkwould reinforce and capitalize on the beneficial existing linkages among third sector serviceproviders, by connecting them to the municipal planning function.Investigate the Experience of Other CitiesVancouver could draw from the example of a San Francisco initiative, and prepare a 3-5 yearComprehensive Housing Affordability Strategy (CHAS). The CHAS reflects all the likely availableresources for social housing (including specific homeless/at risk groups) and estimates the additionalresources required to meet housing need. The San Francisco CHAS has been commended bycommunity groups, for boldly identifying housing need, even if no funding sources are available for73new housing. Specific deficiencies can then be addressed, and existing policies and programsrevamped where necessary (Coalition for the Homeless S.F., 1991).A Vancouver Comprehensive Housing Affordability Strategy could formally recognize thecontinuum of shelter uncertainty by identifying and profiling the homeless/at risk. This strategy mayfacilitate rational planning, and legitimize municipal demands for a guaranteed annual minimum ofsocial housing units from senior governments. If it is based on the information collected throughimproved monitoring initiatives, this guaranteed minimum could be linked to growing local andregional housing affordability problems.5.2 A Broader Definition of HomelessnessThe range and diversity of acute housing need demonstrated in the Vancouver case, supportsthe rationale for broadening the meaning of homelessness to include at risk groups in local planningfor the homeless. In order to initiate suitable measures which will improve the housing and healthstatus of the homeless, municipalities should identify and monitor special populations forvulnerability to homelessness.Specific populations to be considered homeless/at risk have been profiled. These local groupsmay include the number of people experiencing critical levels of affordability problems, thoseexperiencing or threatened with eviction/violence and numbers living in overcrowded (“doubled-up”)conditions or in the uncertainty of “illegal” dwellings.In accordance with a broader definition of homelessness, the scope and type of housingprograms and service delivery mechanisms may more accurately address local need. On the federallevel, the Core Need Model might be adapted to reflect definitions which characterise “at risk”groups (eg. those involuntarily spending 45 % or more of their income on housing). This would74provide a more universally accepted meaning of homelessness in Canada; one which is broad enoughto include the concept of risk, yet can be adapted to reflect the local/regional nature of the problem.For example in Vancouver, those living in SROs and those who are infected with HIV and personswith AIDS may logically be included, whereas in other regions of Canada, new immigrants, refugeesor other groups may be more characteristically at risk.Monitoring the dimensions of a more broadly-defined homeless problem would help publicpolicy meet demand for services and plan more proactively. Municipal monitoring programs shouldbe developed in collaboration with those at risk and service providers in the field to help form aclearer picture of local need. The collaborative process is critical to setting priorities and indeveloping appropriate programs for service consumers.5.3 Municipal Approaches to Homelessness and the Role of PlanningA home is a place that serves many functions and establishes the basic relationships betweenresident(s) and their social environment (Jahiel, 1990). On a conceptual level, shelters andtemporary dwelling arrangements cannot truly be considered homes. Program and policy focusedon emergency solutions to homelessness effectively legitimize the social marginality of the homeless(Hoch, 1987). Rather than eradicating homelessness, such policies may perpetuate it by ignoringsolutions which address root causes like the need for permanent affordable housing and incomeredistribution.Similarly, the narrow definition of homelessness, which is confined to the emergency stateof shelterlessness, contributes to this process of marginalizing the homeless, by avoiding theimmediacy of their need for permanent housing solutions.Income level is an equally important factor to housing affordability as is the actual housing75cost. If the gap between irreducible housing costs (those of housing of last resort) and the incomelevel required to support such housing is to be lessened, ultimately income levels must be raised(City and County of San Francisco, 1991).While housing and income assistance are not the direct responsibility of municipalities inCanada, local governments are well-situated to lobby senior governments, and coordinate private andthird sector housing subsidization. Municipalities can provide direction in prioritizing local needsand act as advocates for increased senior government ftinding commitments.Social housing requires extensive capital investment and must compete for spending prioritywith other areas of social capital investment. The rationale for sustained government involvementin the Canadian housing market has evolved over time, ebbing with the tides of political prioritiesin relation to social and economic forces. Cost-savings analysis is suggested to rationalize increasedspending on social housing, since a host of social costs are associated with unstable housing andhomelessness.The wide range of municipal initiatives which address homelessness (outlined in Chapter 3),suggests that no single approach can be universally applied. The complex problem of homelessrequires an integrated response from the public, private and third sectors with the homelessthemselves, otherwise municipalities become problem managers by default. Solutions must bedeveloped to suit local/regional development patterns and political climate, depending on the degreeand type of housing need.The role of the municipal planning must be grounded in a conceptualization of homelessnesswhich recognizes the reality of a continuum shelter uncertainty. Prevention-oriented approaches tohomelessness require an acknowledgement of risk of homelessness, to break the cycle. Plannersmust work within existing frameworks, to (re)educate the community and address the (oftentimes)76conflicting priorities of a longer term view of the public good (eg. for a healthy and housed socially-mixed city) and the immediate reality of costs and political will.While municipalities are well placed to monitor homelessness, they do not control theresources or have jurisdictional authority to act independently. It is impossible for municipalgovernments to solve local housing need. However, municipalities can develop prevention-orientedapproaches to homelessness. To be effective in addressing homelessness, research and policies mustinclude all parties involved in its generation (Jahiel, 1992). Identification of local at risk groups isa critical step in this regard.775.4 Areas of Further ResearchA number of questions emerge from this re-conceptualization of the homeless/at risk problemand the discussion of municipal planning responses to it.The conditions that are considered direct precursors to homelessness as well as the definingcharacteristics of the “at risk” homeless population, ought to be further examined. These issuesinclude housing cost burdens and incidence of overcrowding. (Ringheim, 1990), particularly todevelop methods of assessing “soft data”, such as the incidence of and risks to “doubled-up”households.Further exploration is also needed to identify partners in cost-shared research. For theVancouver case, cost-sharing could involve a piggy-back study of local housing affordability withthe CMHC, to monitor trends in extreme rent-to-income burdens or (as suggested earlier) jointmonitoring programs developed with third sector partners.The rationale for increased capital investment in social housing must be strengthened tocompete for spending priority with other areas of social capital investment. Cost-savings analysisis indicated at the provincial level. For example: 1) Evaluation of health status, hospital utilizationrates, and net impact of stable housing for those with HIV/AIDS and, 2) analysis of hospital andpolice service utilization rates by the psychiatrically disabled who are precariously-housed.The regional implications of homelessness should also be examined to determine possiblejoint responses by neighbouring municipalities. Further study could address the “free rider”problems placed on the central city in a metropolitan unit, such as Vancouver vis a vis the provisionof services for the homeless/at risk (or lack thereof) in the GVRD.785.5 ConclusionNo definition of homelessness has been widely accepted in Canada. Each sector creates itsown defmition of homelessness, to identify its own areas of responsibility. Such definitions may havebeen helpful in framing the extent of public sector involvement. However, practical usage of theterm “homeless” demonstrates that while the extremes may be identified, gaps remain in how theproblem is defmed.The profiles of Vancouver’s at risk homeless reveal the range and diversity of acute housingand housing related needs. The survey of service providers and government agents supports therationale for broadening the meaning of homelessness to include at risk groups in local planning forthe homeless.Unless the pace and the nature of change in urban housing stock is better regulated or thesupply of new low-rent housing is significantly increased, the only possible outcome is more peoplewithout shelter (Hulchanski, 1989pl). Failure to maintain adequate social housing supply ultimatelyleads to increased numbers of homeless (Hulchanski et al, 1987).Analysts contend that estimations of a city’s unmet housing need are a cost-effective tool inlobbying senior government for funds (Carter and McAfee, 1990). 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Public and Third Sectors, (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1990).Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM), National Action Plan on Housing and Homelessness,(Montreal: Big Cities Mayor’s Caucus, 1991).John Friedmann, Planning in the Public Domain: From Knowledge to Action, (Princeton: PrincetonUniversity Press, 1987).Irene Glasser, Homelessness in Global Perspective, (New York: GK Hall & Co., 1994).Gertrude S. 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Hogg, Ph.D., Am Schilder, Dr. M. Schechter, R. Le, I. Goldstone, S. Strathdee, M.O’Shaugnessy, Ph.D., “Health Care Accessibility and its Impact on Geographical Mobility in Personswith HIV/AIDS” (unpublished manuscript), prepared by BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS,and the Persons With AIDS Society, 1994a.Robert S. Hogg, Ph.D., Dr. M. Schechter, Dr. 3. Montaner, I. Goldstone, K. Craib and M.O’Shaugnessy, Ph.D., “Impact of HIV infection and AIDS on death rates in British Columbia andCanada”, Canadian Medical Association Journal, Vol.150, No.5, March, 1994b.Kim Hopper and Jill Hamberg, The Making of America’s Homeless: From Skid Row to New Poor(1945-1984), (New York: Community Service Society, 1984).Kim Hopper, Ezra Susser and Sarah Conover, “Economies of Makeshift: Deindustrialization andHomelessness in New York City”, Urban Anthropology, Vol.14, No.1-3, Spring-Summer-Fall,1985.J. David Hulchanski, “Canada’s Housing and Housing Policy: An Introduction” (CPI # 27),(Vancouver: UBC Planning Papers, June 1988a).J. David Hulchanski, “Do ALL Canadians Have a Right to Housing?” (DP #14), (Vancouver: UBCPlanning Papers, June 1988b).3. David Hulchanski, Low Rent Housing in Vancouver’s Central Area: Policy and Program Ovtions,(Vancouver: City of Vancouver, September 1989PL).J. David Hulchanski, “Who are the Homeless? What is Homelessness? The Politics of Defining anEmerging Policy Issue’?” (DP #10), (Vancouver: UBC Planning Papers, April 1987).J. David Hulchanski, Margaret Eberle, Michael Lytton and Kris Olds, The Municipal Role in theSupply and Maintenance of Low Cost Housing: A Review of Canadian Initiatives (prepared by CHSUBC for CMHC, August 1990).84J. David Hulchanski, Margaret Eberle, Kris Olds and Dana Stewart, Solutions to Homelessness:Vancouver Case Studies, (prepared by CHS-UBC for CMHC, January 1991).Thomas Hutton and David Ley, “Locations, Linkages, and Labor: The Downtown Complex ofCorporate Activities in a Medium Size City, Vancouver, British Columbia”, Economic Geography,Vol. 63(2), April 1987.Judity E. limes, Knowled2e and Public Policy: The Search for Meaningful Indicators, (NewBrunswick, USA: Transaction Publishers, 1990).Rene I. Jahiel, M.D., PhD. (ed.), Homelessness: A Prevention-Oriented Approach (Baltimore: JohnHopkins University Press, 1992).Robert D. Katz (ed.), Housing in the ‘90s: Common Issues (Proceedings of the NAHRO-IOH-CHRAInternational Conference, (Illinois: University of Illinois, 1990).Roslyn Kunin and Joachim Knauf, “Skill-Shifts in Our Economy: A Decade in the Life of BritishColumbia”, (Vancouver, Canada Employment and Immigration Commission, 1992).Deborah Kraus, Municipal Initiatives in Affordable Housing, (Canadian Housing and RenewalAssociation and CMHC; May 1993).David Ley, “Gentrification: A Ten Year Overview”, in Kent Gerecke (ed.), The Canadian City,(Montreal: Black Rose Books, 1991).David Ley, Gentrification in Canadian Inner Cities: Patterns. Analysis. Imnacts and Policy,(Vancouver: at UBC for CMHC, 1985).David Ley, “Inner-City Revitalization in Canada: A Vancouver Case Study”, Canadian Geographer,vol. XXV, #2, 1981.Sherlyn J. Lincoln, “Single-room residential hotels must be preserved as low-income housingalternative”, Journal of Housing, vol. 37, #7 July 1980.Lookout Emergency Aid Society, Lookout Annual Report 1993-1994,(Vancouver, 1994).Sharon Manson Willms, Michael Hayes, and J. David Hulchanski, Choice. Voice and Dignity:Housing Issues and Options for Persons with HIV Infection in Canada A National Study,(Vancouver: UBC Centre for Human Settlements, 1991).Michael McCullough, “Here Comes the Neighbourhood”, BC Business, July 1994.MaryAnn McLaughlin, Homelessness in Canada: The Reoort of the National Inquiry, (CanadianCouncil on Social Development, 1987).MaryAnn McLaughlin, C. Charette (ed.), Research Initiatives on Homelessness: International Year85of Shelter for the Homeless (IYSH), occasional paper # 27 (Winnipeg: University of Winnipeg,1991).Bill McCarthy and John Hagan, “Work and School as Institutional Support for Toronto andVancouver Street Youths”,(unpublished manuscript, Sociology Department, University of Victoria,1992)Donna McCririck, “Downtown EXPO Housing Survey”, (Social Planning Department, Vancouver,1985).Ramesh Mishra, “The Collapse of the Welfare Consensus? The Welfare Consensus in the 1980s”,Fallis and Murray (ed.), Housing the Homeless and Poor: New Partnerships among the Private.Public and Third Sectors, (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1990).Robert N. North and Walter G. Hardwick, “Vancouver Since the Second World War: An EconomicGeography,” Vancouver and Its Region, Wyn and Oke (eds.), (Vancouver: UBC Press, 1992).H. Peter Oberlander and Arthur L. Fallick, Homelessness and the Homeless: Responses andInnovations, (Vancouver: UBC Centre for Human Settlements, 1988).H. Peter Oberlander and Arthur L. Fallick, Housing A Nation: The Evolution of Canadian HousingPolicy, (Vancouver: UBC Centre for Human Settlements for CMHC, 1992).H. Peter Oberlander and Arthur L. Fallick, Research Initiatives on Homelessness: International Yearof Shelter for the Homeless (IYSH), Occasional Paper # 27 (Winnipeg: University of Winnipeg,1991).Irving Piliavin, Michael Sosin and Herb Westerfelt, Conditions Contributing to Long-TermHomelessness: An Exploratory Study, Discussion Paper #853-87 (Madison: University ofWisconsin,Institute for Research on Poverty, 1988).Frances F. Piven and Richard A. Cloward, Regulating the Poor: The Functions of Public Welfare,(New York: Vintage Books, 1971).Steve Pomeroy, “The Recent Evolution of Social Housing in Canada”, Canadian Housing, vol. 6,#4, Winter 1989.Michael J. Prince, Social Policy Commissions: A Review of Findings and Implications for Housing,(University of Victoria, CMHC, 1989).Karin Ringheim, At Risk Homelessness: The Roles of Income and Rent,(New York: Praeger, 1990).Debra Rog (ed.), Evaluating Programs for the Homeless, (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers,1991).Elizabeth A. Roistacher, “A Tale of Two Conservatives: Housing Policy Under Reagan and86Thatcher”, APA Journal, Autumn 1984.Albert Rose, Canadian Housing Policies: 1935-1980, (Toronto: Butterworths, 1980).Peter H. Rossi, et al, “The Urban Homeless: Estimating Composition and Size”, Science, vol. 235,1987.M.J. (Greta) Smith, Stepping Stones: A Report on Shelter for Abused Women in British Columbia,(BC/Yukon Society of Transition Houses, March 1992).Michael E. Stone, Shelter Poverty: New Ideas on Housing Affordability, (Philadelphia: TempleUniversity Press, 1993).Irving Taliman, Passion. Action, and Politics (San Francisco: W.H. Freeman and Company, 1976),Tenants Rights Action Coalition (TRAC), “Lower Mainland Hotline and Provincial Information Line:Statistical (Issues) Breakdown”, 1994.Tenants Rights Action Coalition (TRAC), information pamphlet, (no date).United Nations, (draft concluding observations), Committee on International Covenant on Economic,Social and Cultural Rights, 1993.United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), A Report to the Secretaryon the Homeless and Emergency Shelters, (Washington, DC: HUD, Office of Policy Developmentand Research, 1984).James D. Wright, Address Unknown: The Homeless in America, (New York: Aldine de Gruyter,1989).Robert K. Yin, Case Study Research: Design and Methods, (Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications,Inc., 1989).Arlene Zarembka, The Urban Housing Crisis, (New York: Greenwood Press, 1990).87Persons and Organizations Consulted7(*) Questionnaire respondentPeter Anderson (*)General Manager, B.C. RegionCanada Mortgage and Housing CorporationJanet AustenDirector of Community ServicesBritish Columbia Housing Management CommissionKen BayfieldAdvocateDowntown Eastside Residents Association (DERA)Pierre Bone (*)Advocacy and Communications DeveloperPersons With AIDS Society (PWA)Jeff BrooksInterministerial Street Children’s CommitteeSocial Planning DepartmentCity of VancouverRalph Buckley (*)Team DirectorStrathcona Mental Health TeamLeslie Butt (*)Consultant to the City of VancouverPh.D. Candidate, Anthropology, S.F. U.Ashley Chester (*)Special Policy AdvisorBritish Columbia Housing Management CommissionSandy Cooke (*)District SupervisorAdolescent Street UnitMinistry of Social Services“ p.d. = personal discussion88Bob DurstonBureau of Housing and Community Development (HCD)City of PortlandPortland, OregonHeather Edgar (*)Senior Program ManagerCoast Foundation SocietyJohn EngelandResearcher - Housing Needs AnalysisCanada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC)Ottawa, OntarioJudy Graves (*)Housing RelçcatorHousing and Properties DepartmentCity of VancouverCameron Gray (*)Deputy Manager and Coordinator, Housing CentreHousing and Properties DepartmentCity of VancouverDon Hazieden (*)Senior AdvisorResearch and Technology TransferB.C. & Yukon Regional OfficeCanada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC)Dr. Robert HoggProject ManagerHIV/AIDS Treatment ProgramBC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDSSt. Paul’s HospitalDoug Kellum (*)Housing RelocatorDowntown Eastside Residents Association (DERA)Loreena MawerOffice CoordinatorFirst United Church89Ann McAfee (*)Associate DirectorCity PlansCity of VancouverDr. Bill McCarthyDepartment of SociologyUniversity of Victoria, B.C.Donna McCririckSenior Planning AnalystBritish Columbia Housing Management Commission (BCHMC)Chris Morrissey (*)Assistant CoordinatorPowell Place Women’s ShelterKaren O’Shannacery (*)DirectorThe Lookout Emergency ShelterVancouver, BCDarcy Peterson (*)Housing RelocatorDowntown Granville Tenants’ AssociationMarino Piombini(*)Regional Planner, Strategic Planning andSocial Issues Committee MemberGreater Vancouver Regional District (GVRD)Boyd Piper (*)Community Legal WorkerTenants Rights Action Coalition (TRAC)Susan Ramsey (*)CoordinatorDowntown South Mental Health Drop-inCoast Foundation SocietyGeannie RatcliffHomeless At Risk Housing ProgramMinistry of Housing, Recreation and Consumer Affairs90Paul RaynorThe Housing CentreHousing and Properties DepartmentCity of VancouverDean ReadmanLegal DepartmentCity of VancouverPeter Robinson (*)Director of Regional OperationsBritish Columbia Housing Management Commission (BCHMC)Richard Rupps (*)Executive DirectorMcLaren Housing Society of B.C.Joe Stott (*)Development Services Coordinator, Strategic PlanningGreater Vancouver Regional District (GVRD)Marlene StrainSupervisor of Housing ServicesBritish Columbia Housing Management Commission (BCHMC)Kerry TurnerHousing Program OfficerMinistry of Housing, Recreation and Consumer Affairs (MHRC)Peter VaisbordCentral Area Projects-Victory SquarePlanning DepartmentCity of VancouverMike WalkerTenants Rights Action Coalition (TRAC)Ramsey WhiteMayor’s OfficeCity of Portland, OregonJim WoodwardDirector of Development ServicesBritish Columbia Housing Management Commission (BCHMC)91APPENDIX AMunicinal Resnonses to Homelessness Questionnaire(My name is Tracey Gagan. I am a Master’s student at UBC’s School of Community and RegionalPlanning. I am currently doing a case study of Vancouver as part of the research for my thesis onMunicipal Planning Responses to the Homeless and Those At Risk of Homelessness.I would like to ask the following questions. Please feel free to comment on your experience of othercities and regions).Date of InterviewInterviewee’s NameTitleDepartment/Agency/Organization1. Do you foresee the City of Vancouver playing an expanded role in meeting housing need?2. Is the City effective at dealing with homelessness? Should the City be more proactive?3. What limits or obstacles to City involvement do you see?4. Are there regional implications?5. Can a municipality help prevent homelessness from occurring?6. Would identifying specific “at risk” groups locally help address homelessness?7. Other Comments or Ideas:92


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