Thursday, Dec 14, 2017
Sweet and Sour
Homeless lose court battle to stay at
Sugar Mountain homeless are
being forced out of Sugar Mountain Male Ridge this week.
of Sugar Mountain Tent City were served a trespassing notice on December 12.
They have been asked to leave by Friday, December 15th by 12:00pm. Wade,
head of security at Sugar Mountain, noted that “last week they said the end
of the month. Now it’s changed.”
Knowing that their only other options are to languish in shelters or camp
out in isolation and hidden from the public eye, residents are responding
resoundingly that they will not go; Wade upon receiving the notice to vacate
said: “I don’t want to leave. I would rather stay here and block the fence.
If they kick us out, we’ll just find another place to camp. We don’t want to
go into shelters.”
John, a resident from Sugar Mountain stated:
“I’ve been on the BC Housing lists for over seven years.” He also mentioned
that he is concerned that there is no guarantee that people from Sugar
Mountain will be used in the modular housing units. Another person at Sugar
Mountain asked “why this lot? There are a bunch of empty lots in Vancouver
that are not occupied!”
The City's injunction against the Ten Year Tent City was turned down in May,
as the Supreme Court recognized homeless people's rights to safety and
security. Like the trespass order that displaced Ten Year Tent City to the
Sugar Mountain site, this one similarly violates the rights of homeless
residents. The City's push to decamp Sugar Mountain without providing
dignified housing continues its pattern of dehumanizing homeless people and
sentencing them to invisibility and death.
Our demands are clear: build emergency modular housing in the place of
shelter beds as well as announce and start the construction of new,
tenant-run non-market housing. The City's plan to build modular housing on
the Sugar Mountain site does not justify the forced displacement of its
current residents, nor does the plan reflect their stated needs and demands.
The City of Vancouver (land), BC Housing (tenancy), and Vancouver Affordable
Housing Agency (units) plans to staff the modular units with PHS workers,
directly invalidating calls for tenant-run housing. Supportive housing is
not an appropriate alternative to shelters and tent cities: it normalizes
the institutional control of poor people and results in increased
surveillance, criminalizing, and isolation. The notice to vacate and the
PHS-staffed modular housing plan are attempts to politically disempower
homeless people and reflect a broader government trend to repress rather
than address voices from the community.
Organized tent cities have successfully resisted injunctions and
displacement, eliciting the attention and recognition needed to articulate
their demands and call out against the violence enacted on low-income
populations by all three levels of government, police, and social workers.
The City's notice to vacate seeks to smash the collective power of
self-organized homeless communities. By relegating residents to unsafe and
isolating conditions, the City also relegates residents to spaces where
protest is impossible and where their demands are sure to go unheard. We
know that the only alternatives are cramped shelters, slumlord controlled
SROs, prison-like supportive housing facilities, or jail itself. The City
cannot continue to punish people for being poor. At Sugar Mountain, we
refuse to leave!
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