News / Vancouver

Pivot supports UN report on Canadian housing

The Vancouver legal advocacy group was part of a Canadian delegation that presented to the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights last month.

A homeless camp in Vancouver's Oppenheimer Park in September 2014.

Jennifer Gauthier/Metro File

A homeless camp in Vancouver's Oppenheimer Park in September 2014.

A Vancouver-based advocacy group is applauding a United Nations committee report that calls for Canada to create a national housing strategy and get rid of bylaws that criminalize the homeless.

Pivot Legal Society lawyer DJ Larkin was one of dozens of advocates who travelled to Geneva, Switzerland last month to make submissions to the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights as it conducted a periodical review of Canada’s human rights obligations.

The committee released its preliminary report Monday, recommending, among other actions, that Canada create a national housing strategy, end renovictions, address the affordable housing crisis and do away with bylaws that criminalize and displace homeless people living on the streets.

“The Committee is concerned about the significant number of people living in poverty,” the report reads. “The Committee is concerned about the persistence of a housing crisis in the State party. It is particularly concerned at the … absence of a national housing strategy; insufficient funding for housing; inadequate housing subsidy within the social assistance benefit; shortage of social housing units; and, increased evictions related to rental arrears.”

Larkin told Metro at the time that her submissions offered the committee a glimpse into the situation in B.C., particularly in Victoria and Abbotsford where municipal bylaws were used to displace homeless people in public areas.

Those bylaws were then challenged in court and found to be illegal.

Pivot released a statement saying the report makes it “abundantly clear” that Canada should be doing more to protect people “engaging in acts of basic necessity such as sleeping or sheltering in public spaces” and agreed a national housing strategy is needed.

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