Imagine it's early November. The election is over, a new Parliament reigns. You're back to worrying about things that haven't changed. Maybe it's the cramped "studio" your family calls home. Or that renoviction notice. Or perhaps just the grind you feel every day on the bus, knowing that the way salaries are headed you'll never be able to afford your own alley-view condo, let alone a house.
If those are things you think should change, Tyee Solutions Society, along with SFU Public Square and SFU Urban Studies, has an event for you.
On Nov. 2, we're hosting Housing in the City: Beyond the Headlines, a two-hour public exploration of ideas on how Vancouver can avoid becoming a place where only the one per cent can afford to live.
Throughout the evening, seven experts will tell stories about places and people who are creating affordable, suitable and secure housing in Canadian cities. Speakers include University of British Columbia geographer David Ley, Whistler Housing's Marla Zucht, Metro Vancouver's Tom Lancaster, Gail Joe of the First Nations Market Housing Fund, and Robert Brown of Catalyst Community Developments.
The event will focus on some of the most stressed contributors to Vancouver's economic and cultural success: those in working households at or below the city's median wage.
Tyee Solutions Society journalists David P. Ball and Katie Hyslop will be on hand to follow up those stories with penetrating questions. Audience members will be invited to submit questions of their own, which will feature in Ball and Hyslop's further reporting.
The public event will set the stage for a closed-door workshop the following day, at which experts across a spectrum of housing roles -- from builders to social housing administrators to municipal leaders -- will volunteer their time to identify a short list of achievable changes that the newly elected Parliament could make to better house lower-earning and vulnerable Canadians.
In search of a housing fix
The events are modelled on earlier public engagements held by Tyee Solutions Society around critical issues. Five years ago, our housing journalism series about the potential to turn surplus shipping containers into attractive low-cost shelter included a similar set of events. They helped catalyze a change of thinking -- and rules -- at city hall. Vancouver now has its first "container" homes. Other events have addressed how climate change will change who we are as a culture, and the marginalization of renters in a housing market geared to buyers.
Tyee Solutions Society has taken on its most ambitious reporting to date this year, exploring who's hurting the most in Canada's coast-to-coast housing crisis, where the problems lie, and what some communities and past governments have done to provide individuals and families with right-sized, suitable and affordable homes.
The project's reporting and other housing resources have been collected at a special new website, The Housing Fix, which also offers voters an easy-to-use tool to find and contact local federal candidates, and read about the major parties' housing platforms.
By the time of November's storytelling night, of course, Canadians will have cast their votes. The one certainty is that Canada will have a new crop of MPs travelling to Ottawa.
With that in mind, both the Vancouver day-long workshop of experts and a second similar event to be held in Ottawa in January, also sponsored by Tyee Solutions Society and the Canadian Housing Renewal Association, will aim to give the new Parliament some clear ideas about what it could do to improve things for lower and middle income urban Canadians struggling to find homes in their cities.
The storytelling night that will kick that national initiative off takes place Nov. 2 at the Vancity Theatre at 1181 Seymour St., starting at 6:30 p.m. Tickets and registration are available here.
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