Micro Housing was brought to L’kwungen Territory as a result of Bobby Arbess approaching me with the idea as a member of the Committee To End Homelessness Victoria.
We at the CTEHV spoke about the idea of bringing Mark Lakeman who helped design and build OppurtUnity Village and Andrew Heben who wrote a book “Tent City Urbanism” to Victoria.
Those of us with lived experience of homelessness and most homeless I spoke to on streets said: “Bring it on!”. I added “It’s us who has to do that, this is not charity, this is about community working together to reclaim what is ours, home and land.”
The very reason we are even supporting a Micro Housing Village is because the federal and provincial governments have been getting away with not building any where close to what is needed as far as social housing @ 30% of income!
I brought Bobby to a CTEHV meeting and we got support. Mayor elect Lisa Helps supported us to access City Hall as requested in order to really get the ball rolling. I figured its best to deal with the expected backlash head on.
We met, the backlash occurred, we survived and here we are now.
In the beginning the steering committee consensed on a self-organizing harm reduction model.
This committee is made up of housed allies, some homeless, architects, builders, students, church volunteers, a city councillor and more working away preparing for building! The trick is “where”?
“The Take Back the Land campaign is rooted in the following principles:
– Housing as a Human Right.
– Land and adequate housing should not be commodities to enrich the elite but instead, like air, should be protected as a common good.
– Local Community Control over Housing.
– Leadership by Impacted Communities, particularly low-income First Nations women.
– Direct Action…”
Picture the Homeless is an organization founded on the principle that in order to end homelessness, people who are homeless must become an organized, effective force for systemic change. We have a track record of developing leadership among homeless people to impact policies and systems that affect their lives and our efforts have created space for homeless people, and their agenda, within the broader movement…
… The catalyst for our founding was an urgent need to respond to the Giuliani administration’s policy of criminalizing homeless people, broadly supported by the media. The co-founders of Picture the Homeless (PTH) began reaching out to allies for support, a place to meet and to figure out strategies to create an organization of homeless people that could carry out this work. In January 2000, PTH held its first organizing meeting. Picture the Homeless has since worked to develop an organization directed and run by homeless people by building an infrastructure that keeps organizational decision-making in the hands of homeless people.”*1
Meanwhile In colonial Victoria we have many people who are institutionalized by the poverty industry and the charity model. Stigma affects us in the long run in the most hurtful ways to community.
We do not have a Carnegie like in the DTES. Our homeless are constantly shuffled around for as long as I have lived here since 1996. Criminalised illicit drug users are often barred from services and red zoned from area’s where services exist.
Many think all the homeless need is a job. Most jobs are destructive and many will no longer work them! It is time to make the economic changes necessary for us all to have a future.
We have the right to sleep from 7pm to 7am but we have no right to land or rest.
In Oregon the occupy movement helped the homelessness build their own community, they are now a thriving micro house village and community.
We must go to where the poor are, find and use space to meet in and include them in every way.
The trick is to organize with the homeless themselves as much and as often as possible.
On the Micro Housing Steering Committee we have many who have worked really hard and care a great deal, some are homeless right now and I appreciate their presence and input.
The bottom line is, fall and winter is around the corner, homeless may put up tents illegally or wait for money, support – and possibly supervision – from those in power – and to build homes that the local neighbourhood will accept.
This will take time. Can we afford to wait?
Unity is the best answer to this divide and rule colonial system. Us learning to live together all over, unlearning oppressive behaviours together and empower all homeless family members to have a voice.
(*1-Rob Robinson from Take Back The Land)
Here are photo’s from actual squatters at the Squat, “Super InTent City”, which is getting a LOT of support and attention across Canada. They number anywhere from 80 – 100 homeless campers. Most do NOT want a temporary costly poverty industry situation, they rather stay here. Many in social housing are miserable and isolated, having to move an average of once every two years, as often as twice in one month. We are in a economic crisis and the ONLY solution is a Livable Income For All and Build Homes Now, build them diverse and look to “the people” to decide what kind of homes they want.
Stigma must be tackled and the only way I see working is a complete economic
Here are more photo’s of this actual community. That thing we all miss and crave and die for, community, actual factual, go and meet them, we all can learn a lot.
Please help fight for a Livable4All Income.