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Weeks after decampment of Hastings Street started, 12 people moved indoors: city

In the weeks since efforts to dismantle a homeless encampment in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside ramped up, the city says three people have been housed and nine have accepted referral to shelter.

There were an estimated 80 tents and structures in the Hastings Street encampment when city crews, with the support of the Vancouver Police Department, began clearing sidewalks in the area. A city spokesperson says the number remaining varies daily.

“To prevent entrenched structures from returning, city crews with the assistance of the VPD are enforcing the street and traffic by-law, removing structures as soon as possible,” the spokesperson told CTV News in an email Friday.

City staff reported there were around 180 tents and structures in the encampment at its peak in August, when Fire Chief Karen Fry ordered for sidewalks in the 100 block of East Hastings Street to be cleared due to safety concerns.

Since last summer, a spokesperson for BC Housing says 97 people who were living in the tent city have been moved to indoor spaces.

BC Housing says it is in the process of allocating renovated single-room occupancy (SRO) units as they become available, including 95 spaces at The Gastown Hotel and 115 spaces at a building on West 12th Avenue that the province recently purchased.

Tenanting for that SRO building has already begun and is expected to continue this week, according to BC Housing.

The 115-unit building at 1450 West 12th Ave. is set to open by June.

Since the city initiated its decampment plans, both Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services and the VPD say there’s been a decline in calls related to fires, crime and overdoses.

But police remain concerned about the number of weapons they are still seizing in the Downtown Eastside.

At a news conference Monday, the department displayed about a dozen weapons that were confiscated in a single evening on April 18, nearly two weeks after the tent clearing began.

The weapons included a hatchet, brass knuckles, knives, and a baseball bat with a rope attached that could be used as a flail.

“Imagine what’s out there,” said Sgt. Steve Addison. “That’s what’s concerning for us. These kinds of weapons in that kind of neighbourhood, any kind of neighbourhood, is extremely concerning.” 

Advocates for Vancouver’s homeless population, including hundreds of academics across the country, have decried the city’s decampment efforts—arguing there’s not enough shelter space and housing options available to those living on the DTES. Top Stories

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