Eight years ago, Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson promised to end homelessness in his city by 2015.
Yet on just one cold evening in October of last year, 36 people seeking a bed in emergency shelters run by Union Gospel Mission were turned away, facing freezing temperatures in a doorway or on a park bench.
The mission’s Jeremy Hunka says its maxed-out shelters have been forced to turn away 1,545 people in the first nine months of 2016 – almost 25 per cent more than 2015, the same year Mayor Gregor Robertson promised to end homelessness.
In fact, Vancouver homelessness is at record levels.
And the picture is not much different across the rest of British Columbia. As many as 15,000 people are without homes in the province. And homeless deaths spiked 70 per cent in the last reported year.
In a city and province so prosperous, why are so many people deprived of safe homes? And what can we do next – or do differently?
Megaphone Magazine and The Tyee have partnered to try and answer those questions in a new series investigating the solutions to homelessness in this province and across Canada.
You may remember Megaphone’s first-ever crowdfunder from May of 2016. We set out to raise $10,000 in three weeks to fund our homelessness reporting project. You may also remember its runaway success: Megaphone’s supporters rocketed us to our $10,000 goal in 36 hours. We set a new goal of $16,000 to fund a series of short, powerful videos to accompany each piece. Before the campaign ended, 250 Megaphone donors had contributed more than $19,000 to fund this project.
The first piece in the series, on Tent Cities, launched in the November 2016 issue, and online Monday November 7. We’re proud to partner with The Tyee, an independent online magazine that informs and enlivens our democratic conversation through fact-driven reporting.
With more than 10,000 individuals and families waiting for a place in B.C. Housing, we decided it was time to look at what governments could do right away, before slow-to-appear new housing finally gets built. We’ll discover policies that have significantly reduced chronic homelessness elsewhere, ways to keep people from becoming homeless to start with, and more.
The result is six months of in-depth, investigative work, reported by Megaphone’s Stefania Seccia and edited by Tyee Solutions’ Chris Wood. We looked at what could be done to make real progress on homelessness, from prevention to innovative housing solutions.
There are few easy answers, and solutions are beyond the power of a municipal government, as Robertson painfully learned. Reducing homelessness requires coordinated action from all levels of government, with the support of communities and citizens.
Our project takes a fresh look at the problem, sharing bold experiments and the brightest ideas in Canada and from beyond our borders.
It all starts today. To read Part 5 of the series, Download the Megaphone App to find a vendor. Every purchase supports meaningful work for people experiencing poverty.
And that’s thanks to the individuals and organizations who supported this series, including the 250 donors who gave to Megaphone’s spring 2016 crowdfunding drive, as well as the funders of The Tyee’s 2016-17 Housing Fix project: Vancity Credit Union, Catherine Donnelly Foundation and the Real Estate Foundation of B.C., in collaboration with Columbia Institute.
PART 1: Tent Cities
Part 2: Yes! In My backyard!
Part 5: Prevention
Part 6: Coming April 2017
Free Public Event: April 12th, 2017
Join Megaphone, plus experts on lived experience and policy around homelesssness, for a free public event on April 12th in Vancouver. We'll hear from experts and discuss solutions to the homelessness crisis to wrap up Megaphone's crowdfunded 6-part series. Reserve your free ticket here: http://www.megaphonemagazine.com/changethestory
Jessica Hannon wants to volunteer 2016-06-01 19:36:31 -0700Together we can change the story on homelessness. Sign up here to help us amplify the stories that come from Megaphone's crowdfunded journalism project. We're sharing stories on solutions to the homelessness crisis in B.C., and we need your help. We'll let you know when there's an important solution we need to communicate widely, and rely on our team of Amplifiers to get the word out.
Change is people-powered. You can help Megaphone's solutions-focused stories reach new people and connect to broader audiences. That's the kind of momentum we need to have an impact.
Become a volunteer
Jessica Hannon donated 2016-06-12 03:32:27 -0700$19,225.00 raisedGOAL: $16,000.00
Your donation, processed through Hope in Shadows, is tax-deductible. Tax receipts will be mailed in July 2016.Donate
We launched this crowdfunding campaign on Wednesday, ready for a 21-day marathon. Gel-packs around our waists; compression socks on our feet; our gazes fixed on the hazy June 1st horizon as we steeled ourselves for the long 3-week race to $10,000.
Then after 24 hours, we were 72% funded.
Ready for a grueling marathon, instead we were lifted up by a hope-filled, clamouring crowd of 84 incredible donors (and many more who shared our campaign with their friends and loved ones), who picked us up and sprinted together to 72% funded, getting us there so quickly we looked around bewildered, unsure what just happened.
That crowd of 84 ballooned to 125 a few short hours later. By 8:41pm on Thursday-- just 36 hours after launch-- we broke $10,000. 100% funded in 36 hours.
And it hasn't stopped yet. As I write we're at $11,900 and 157 wonderful backers. We are completely blown away by the generosity, heart, and hope for a better way that we've seen from the Megaphone community in the last 2 days.
We'll have an update for you soon, but we are going to keep the crowdfunder open - anything contributed above and beyond our original goal will go a long way to help this project succeed. And we're working on a really exciting idea on how to make this project as impactful as possible, if we are able to raise enough funds beyond our original goal.
Thank you so much for your support. It means the world to us.
Join the Megaphone community - we're making #ChangeThatWorks to build a more just and inclusive society.Sign up
Jessica Hannon published Deaths in DTES fire a tragic reminder of the cost of homelessness in Magazine 2015-04-18 11:46:35 -0700
I woke up to the sound of sirens on Monday. More than a passing cry in the night, they sounded like they were rallying from all over the city to arrive at my doorstep.Read more
I pulled back the curtain to see 60-foot orange flames rearing up over an abandoned building a half block away, a giant roaring bonfire spitting sparks hundreds of feet into the air. It was terrifying. Thrumming with fear, I woke my neighbours—my first instinct was get as far away as possible.
Jessica Hannon donated 2016-12-05 16:27:05 -0800
Please note: charitable tax receipts for donations made here are issued through our partners Hope in Shadows Inc. Hope in Shadows is a charitable organization creating positive social change for people and communities impacted by poverty and marginalization. Their projects empower, educate, and provide training to low-income people in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside and beyond. Hope in Shadows' flagship project is the annual Hope in Shadows photography contest and calendar. Hope in Shadows also works with Megaphone Magazine to do this charitable work.
Thank you for your support!