The following letter to the editor "Time to recognize housing as a human right", by VDLC President Stephen von Sychowski was published by The Province this week.
On Dec. 10, 1948, the UN adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Canada voted in favour. The declaration was part of the inspiration for Canada’s own Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Yet a massive violation of human rights is taking place.
Housing is a human right. Article 25 (1) of the declaration reads: “Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.”
The 2018 Report on Homeless Counts from B.C. Housing indicated 7,655 persons identified as homeless. In 2019, the Vancouver homeless count identified 2,223 in that city alone. In addition, we have untold numbers of people struggling to pay their rent or mortgage.
The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives recently released a paper indicating a need for 10,000 units of non-market affordable housing per year in Metro Vancouver. It is within the power of all levels of government to come together and solve this problem. The AffordableBC plan, endorsed by the labour movement, sets out mechanisms for funding new housing construction.
We have seen some positive steps taken over the past couple of years. But we are a long way from solving the problem. Homelessness and the housing crisis are long-standing, and growing, problems. Now is the time for bold action to ensure the right to housing is one guaranteed to all in practice, not just on paper.