Tent City II

Helen Schild and her husband are waking up to a different view this morning.

Up until yesterday a tent at 58 West Hastings Street was home.

Schild and her husband were residents at a tent camp on Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. The camp was deemed a health risk and hazard to residents by the B.C. Supreme Court, residents were ordered to leave by 6 p.m. yesterday.

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Helen Schild and her husband in front of their newly pitched tent at Thornton Park, two hours after they were evicted from 58 West Hastings.

Campers evicted from the site last night moved to Thornton Park. About eight tents are now pitched here and activists expect this number to grow. Schild says promises of housing made by the city never materialized.

“The city was supposed to get us homes actually because the judge wrote it in the affidavit that they have to find us a home, but the city didn’t come out until today,” Schild said.

After a violent attack at a shelter, Schild prefers her tent to a shelter bed. But as the weather worsens, she worries about her health. “I have Hep C and I’ve been sick for the last three days really bad and I just wish I did have a home now. ‘Cause I have to do my treatment and I can’t do it, I just don’t want to do it outside,” Schild said.

Union Gospel Mission spokesperson Jeremy Hunka estimates there are up to 2,000 homeless people in Vancouver. Only 1,000 permanent shelter beds exist.

“The sad reality is that there are not enough shelter spaces in Vancouver and there are not enough housing units in Vancouver. And this is a really painful reality that is fuelling these tent cities that just pop up. And then are shut down. But likely we’ll see them again.It’s a cycle that we see and it’s hard to watch,” Hunka said.

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UGM has had to turn away 10 people per night in the last week, as shelter need outpaces supply. Spokesperson Jeremy Hunka at the UGM shelter in the Downtown Eastside.

The city has housed one individual from the camp, this leaves ten to 20 people still sleeping rough.

Listen to a radio hit about the eviction.

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