November 17, 2017 (Vancouver, B.C.) – Mayor Robertson met with more than 25 multi-faith leaders from across Vancouver last night to discuss the City’s temporary modular housing initiative and joint efforts to help house and provide shelter for the homeless, as Vancouver heads into winter.
“Vancouver is facing a housing crisis and our low-income and homeless residents continue to be the hardest hit. It is simply not acceptable for our friends, family and neighbours to be sleeping in parks, doorways and on the streets of our city – or dying as a result,” said Mayor Gregor Robertson.
“I’m inspired by how Vancouver’s faith leaders are living up to their message of compassion by offering up their facilities to help house the homeless. I am grateful for their support and their partnership and look forward to working together to support our most vulnerable residents as we respond to the rising crisis of homelessness – and the stigma surrounding it – in our city and region.”
During the meeting, faith leaders voiced their support for the City’s efforts to provide shelter and housing for the homeless in Vancouver, including opening their own facilities as winter shelters and supporting the City’s temporary modular housing initiative.
“Last winter we opened the al-Jamia Mosque as a temporary winter shelter,” said Haroon Khan, President of the Al Jamia Mosque. “The positive conversations we had with homeless and vulnerable people encouraged us to take a similar step this year. We support the City’s initiatives to build temporary modular housing and encourage all Vancouverites to open their hearts this winter season.”
Faith leaders also discussed the need for compassion and an open mind when it comes to those experiencing homelessness. They urged people across Vancouver not to be afraid of those without homes and to avoid further stigmatizing those in desperate need. “In the midst of a housing crisis, the City of Vancouver needs to take meaningful steps to help our most vulnerable neighbours,” said Ezra S. Shanken, Chief Executive Officer of the Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver. “The expansion of temporary housing options and winter shelters this year will help people in need and save lives.”
“We should not stigmatize all homeless people as dangerous or suffering from addiction,” said Andrew Halliday, Reverend at St. Augustine’s Anglican Church. “The construction of temporary modular housing throughout the city is an opportunity to provide stable, safe housing for those who are most vulnerable.”
“Racism and discrimination have a long history in Vancouver,” said Kashmir Dhaliwal, President of the Khalsa Diwan Society/Ross Street Temple. “The living legacies of the Komagata Maru episode still affect us today and guide our work in fostering a more inclusive and understanding city. Building more temporary modular housing throughout our city is an opportunity to make Vancouver more welcoming for everyone.”
Learn more about the City of Vancouver’s Winter Response Strategy: http://vancouver.ca/people-programs/winter-response-shelter-strategy.aspx
Learn more about the City of Vancouver’s Temporary Modular Housing program: http://vancouver.ca/people-programs/temporary-modular-housing.aspx