Today in the Vancouver Sun, there was an article about a new plan of Campbell's to take 320 rooms from Olympic Villiage and turn them into low-income housing for BC residents. The announcement sounded good, but it lacked context about how many rooms are really needed, how many homeless it will help, and how many homeless exist. Basically, what I was left wondering was, what percentage of the problem does this announcement fix?
According to the BC Housing page homes are currently provided for 83,900 households. This is quite huge in comparison to the 320 rooms being made available by this announcement. The new homes are insignificant in this context.
This page from Policy Alternatives reports that Athens created 2300 low-income units after its Olympic games. London in 2012 is planning to make 4500. These numbers are a lot larger than what Campbell seems to be planning here. BC is doing poorly in this regard so far.
They also note that five low-income hotels were closed in Vancouver recently, resulting in a loss of about 180 units.
I have seen predictions on numerous progressive websites that there will be an increase in the number of homeless people after the olympics, but I have not seen these numbers quantified anywhere. The best numbers I see is 180 housing units closed in Vancouver, and 320 being opened. Today's announcement basically nullifies the recent negative impact of the incoming Olympics on the poor. It is basically preventing the problem from getting worse this year. It does nothing for the continuing negative impacts that I would expect to occor next year and the year after, but maybe there will be more announcements then too.
This announcement does virtually nothing to solve the much larger issue of homelessness in general. A much higher level of housing would need to be built to even make a dent in that problem. But it does help a lot on the more limited olympic issue, which is probably all it was meant to do.
I wish the newspaper article had listed these numbers for me so I could have understood the significance of Campbell's announcement. Without this context, I had no way to tell if the 300 units were signficant or not.