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Vancouver mayor calls for $30 million in emergency funds for homeless amid COVID-19

Click to play video 'Vancouver mayor calls for $30-million in emergency funding to house homeless' Vancouver mayor calls for $30-million in emergency funding to house homeless
Vancouver mayor Kennedy Stewart is recommending city council spend up to $30-million in emergency funding to buy or lease housing to help homeless residents get inside during the COVID-19 pandemic. Grace Ke has reaction. – Oct 6, 2020

Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart has put forward a motion recommending that city council allocate up to $30 million in emergency funding to buy or lease housing to help homeless residents during the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to a statement from the city on Tuesday, a report from city staff shows that the lease or purchase of housing units in vacant apartment buildings, commercial hotels, single-room occupancy hotels, and other buildings were the only “viable options” to address the growing needs of communities.

Click to play video 'City of Vancouver staff outline potential sites for sanctioned homeless encampment' City of Vancouver staff outline potential sites for sanctioned homeless encampment
City of Vancouver staff outline potential sites for sanctioned homeless encampment – Oct 4, 2020

Stewart’s motion calls for “wraparound services” to support those experiencing homelessness, and would see him continue to pursue senior government funding.

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The city’s estimated 750 unsheltered residents are particularly vulnerable during the pandemic, which intersects with the province’s overdose crisis, the statement said.

Read more: Vancouver mayor to table motion on ways to help homeless, including temporary camp

Neighbourhoods such as Strathcona, the West End, Yaletown and Mount Pleasant are experiencing “higher-than-usual levels of street homelessness and are demanding solutions in the form of services and housing options for their vulnerable neighbours.”

Click to play video 'Strathcona residents demand government action on homelessness' Strathcona residents demand government action on homelessness
Strathcona residents demand government action on homelessness – Sep 29, 2020

Council approved a motion on Sept. 14 directing city staff to explore several options from permanent housing to managed encampments on vacant land.

Read more: ‘It’s moving in the opposite direction’: City of Vancouver to consider sanctioned tent cities

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In an Oct. 2 memo to the mayor and council, staff identified eight city-owned sites that could potentially support sanctioned temporary encampments with physically distanced tents and services.

A special council meeting is scheduled for Thursday.

Click to play video 'The $30M homeless relief plan' The $30M homeless relief plan
The $30M homeless relief plan – Oct 7, 2020

— With files from Kristen Robinson and The Canadian Press