Vancouver, BC (Unceded Coast Salish Territories) – The BC Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA) and Pivot Legal Society have made a joint submission today to the Federal Housing Advocate (FHA) on human rights violations currently being committed by the City of Vancouver and the Vancouver Police Department (VPD) against unhoused and inadequately housed people sheltering along the Hastings corridor in the Downtown Eastside (DTES). Our submission to the FHA sets out a number of ways in which current eviction operations being conducted by the City and VPD violate the safety and fundamental human rights of people sheltering outside.
A leaked City document detailing an acceleration in eviction operations reflects and validates the concerns raised in our submissions. Contrary to fundamental human rights and clear statements from Canada’s FHA, the City is preparing to increase their use of police-enforced evictions while openly acknowledging adequate housing is not currently available.
The Province has been complicit in these evictions, standing alongside the City, and misleading the public on both the availability and safety of existing shelter spaces.
“There are clear human rights standards for what constitutes adequate housing. These standards are overwhelmingly not being met by the City and the Province and we stand with people who say that Hastings Street is the safest of inadequate alternatives at this time. Government actors need to stop gaslighting homeless people regarding the shelter they have available,” says Anna Cooper, Pivot Staff Counsel.
We call on both the City and VPD to cease eviction operations on the DTES; and we call the City, the VPD and the Province to clearly adopt a human rights-based approach to engaging with people sheltering outside, as has been set out in “A National Protocol for Homeless Encampments in Canada.”
“The sustained efforts of the City and the VPD to forcefully evict people sheltering outside coupled with the City’s, Province’s and federal government’s failure to respond to this situation in a meaningful and dignified way amounts to cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment”, says Veronica Martisius, BCCLA Staff Counsel.