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Event: Social Housing Experts Look from Legacy to Future

Expect feisty debate at this Vancouver event honouring late councillor Jim Green.

By David P. Ball 26 Feb 2015 | Tyee Solutions Society

David P. Ball reports on affordable housing for Tyee Solutions Society. Send him tips or comments by email, find him on Twitter @davidpball, or read his previous reporting published on The Tyee here.

This series was produced by Tyee Solutions Society. It was made possible through the financial support of Simon Fraser University's VanCity Office of Community Engagement. This support for this project does not necessarily imply endorsement of the findings or content of this report. TSS funders neither influence nor endorse the particular content of TSS reporting. Other publications wishing to publish this story or other TSS produced articles, please see this website for contacts and information.

From visiting a Chinatown rooftop vegetable garden, to chowing down on pancakes on the top floor of Woodward's supportive housing complex, this week Tyee Solutions Society profiled three different approaches to affordable housing over the past three decades in Vancouver.

The city's existing affordable stock includes co-ops, rent-geared-to-income housing and mixed-income projects, with nearly 1,000 of those suites linked to the efforts of late councillor Jim Green and the Downtown Eastside Residents Association with which he organized before entering politics.

But how to meet the housing needs of today remains the subject of intense debate, and that debate continues tonight, Feb. 26, at an event in Vancouver.

Titled "Building a Social Housing Legacy for the Future," the annual event honours Green while bringing together experts and policy-makers in the housing sector to discuss his legacy and the future of social housing in the city.

It will feature a panel that includes Michael Shapcott with the Habitat International Coalition and co-author, with Jack Layton, of Homelessness: The Making and Unmaking of a Crisis; Vancouver housing policy planner Celine Mauboules; Bladerunners employment program founder Gary Jobin, and University of B.C. law professor Margot Young.

"We have an urban landscape that makes very visible the most extreme manifestations of the housing crisis," explains Young. "Vancouver is an important focus."

Organized by Vancouver councillor Geoff Meggs, the event marks three years since Green's death on Feb. 28, 2012. The Alabama-born anti-poverty activist and municipal leader was an influential, though controversial figure in civic politics.

Those who knew Green say his philosophy was that secure, affordable housing is a human right. For panelist Young, an investigator with the Housing Justice Research Project, that idea is key to addressing the broader affordable housing crisis across Canada.

"Articulating a basic need as a right means you establish it as an entitlement, not as something that is delivered through goodwill or charitable impulse," she says.

Tonight's Jim Green memorial event takes place at 7 p.m. at the Goldcorp Centre for the Arts' Djavad Mowafaghian World Art Centre (149 West Hastings St.). Read more about the event, and register for free, here.  [Tyee]

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