RE: Reducing Barriers and Deepening Affordability for Non-Profit, Co-op and Social Housing in Every Neighbourhood
Dear Vancouver City Councillors,
We at Women Transforming Cities are writing this letter in full support of Councillor Boyle’s proposed motion regarding the deepening affordability for social housing in Vancouver’s neighbourhoods. As an organization working to build a more equitable city by advocating for policy making using an intersectional lens, we support this motion because it addresses the needs of those evicted, displaced, and insecurely housed by the housing crisis in Vancouver. This motion is a pivotal step to ensure the city meets its target in the Housing Vancouver Strategy by creating the conditions for more adaptable and affordable housing. This is an essential motion to meet the urgent requirement to house women and girls, particularly those facing misogyny, racism, and violence, and will increase women’s overall safety while cementing the basic human right of housing for Vancouver and municipalities around Canada.
Housing and COVID-19
Even before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, our profit-driven housing system has displaced or threatens the basic rights of tens of thousands of poor, working-class, and middle-class people in British Columbia––many of whom are facing the interlocking violence of gendered and racialized oppression including job losses (such as the current crisis facing women hotel workers pushed out of their jobs) only magnified by the impacts of COVID-19. The wait time for subsidized housing was just under two and a half years as reported by the Vancouver Sun in 2016. Given the impact of COVID-19 on job security and income, particularly of precarious jobs held by working class women, Indigenous, Black, and other racialized women, and women with disabilities, this wait time has undoubtedly been extended. This crisis requires an urgent and systemic response, such as the one outlined in this motion.
Housing and Domestic Violence
For many, including low-income women fleeing gender-based violence, securing housing is a matter of survival, particularly those experiencing oppression from systems embedded in colonialism. Moreover, gender queer individuals are three to four times more likely to be victimized by domestic violence, with 60% of women living with disabilities subjected to spousal abuse, as reported by the Canadian Women’s Foundation. When considering the intersections of oppression, there are tens of thousands of women living in this city who depend on motions such as this one to secure their basic human rights to life and safety. Many of these women are mothers and single-mothers as well; thus, expanding social housing with childcare facilities will provide women with the security necessary to lead full and enriching lives.
Women Living in Poverty
Not only will this motion help women who are experiencing domestic violence, but it will also pave the way for housing for all women who live in poverty. This motion will greatly assist with the City’s goals across the priorities outlined in the Women’s Equity Strategy. By building social housing without requiring rezoning and increasing the height and density of rental units set aside for non-profit, co-op, and social housing, more women will be able to lead more secure lives and ultimately thrive.
The provision of adequate, stable housing is a human right–Women Transforming Cities unequivocally support this motion, and hope to see it passed and supported by the Mayor and City Council.
We thank you for your time and consideration.
Women Transforming Cities