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Vancouver homeless population could soar by 50 per cent by 2030: report

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The number of people living rough on Vancouver streets could spike to 4,700 people by 2030 according to a new study by advocates with the Carnegie Housing Project.

The group revealed their findings Tuesday morning at Oppenheimer Park where they were joined by Kevin Conrod, a Downtown Eastside Resident who has not had stable housing in 10 years.

He currently sleeps at shelters and says he’s been on a waiting list for social housing for a number of years.

"I've been on it for about four years and I've heard some people have been on it for 10 years. I have to wait that long, so another six years,” Conrod said.

An estimated 2,400 to 3,000 people in Vancouver are unhoused.

Advocates are calling on all levels of government to take steps to prevent that number from growing drastically.

They would like the province to implement vacancy control for single-room occupancy buildings so landlords can’t jack up the rent between tenants.

"Whenever a whole building is cleared out for renoviction and there's no housing for people to go to, that's when you end up with another tent city,” said Devin O’Leary with Carnegie Housing Project.

The Ministry of Housing said it does not view SROs as a long-term housing solution for a majority of people.

“SROs typically do not offer the standard of housing we want to see in communities in British Columbia but do offer an affordable housing option for many people who are experiencing or at risk of homelessness in Vancouver,” the ministry said in a statement.

It said a 2018 Rental Housing Task Force looked at vacancy controls and decided it would likely reduce affordable rental stock and cause landlords to defer necessary maintenance and repairs.

Housing advocates would also like to see the province and the City of Vancouver work together to maintain the existing stock of temporary modular housing projects.

As land being leased for those projects gets redeveloped, the units are not being relocated to other sites where they can continue to be used by people in desperate need of housing.

The city confirms it has no plans to change that.

“There are no new TMH sites underway. The TMH program was always intended to be temporary as the city prioritizes permanent housing solutions,” the city said in a statement.

So far, 144 units have been shut down and 500 more are scheduled to close in the next four years.

Housing Minister Ravi Kahlon said there may be an opportunity to extend the life of some of those existing units of temporary modular housing.

"We've been working with the City of Vancouver to identify where leases are coming up, if we can negotiate longer-term leases,” said Kahlon. “But we're also having discussions about what other opportunities there may be to get housing."

As he continues to sleep in crowded shelters while waiting for safe and secure housing, Conrod can’t help but wonder why the city doesn’t have a plan to maintain a healthy supply of temporary modular homes.

"They look like good accommodations and people do need them,” he said.

For the time being, those accommodations are the only thing standing between hundreds of people and a life on the street.

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