Flyers have been circulating throughout Guildford in North Surrey, spreading myths and promoting hate against drug users and the homeless community in an effort to block a proposed supportive housing project in the neighbourhood. The 63-unit project is being discussed at the next Surrey City Council meeting, alongside a second proposed supportive housing project, which would see 38 additional units go up along King George Boulevard.
Alliance Against Displacement is calling on Surrey residents to unite against efforts to expel drug users and homeless people from our neighbourhoods. Join us in the fight for homes not hate!
What: Rally for Homes Not Hate!
Where: Surrey City Hall (13450 104 Ave)
When: Monday, July 22, 7:00pm
End the Hate!
Those responsible for the smear campaign against the proposed supportive housing in Guildford attempt to dehumanize homeless people by labelling them “addicts” and “criminals.” They present homeless people as an invading force, not a part of our community. But in low-income neighbourhoods like Guildford, where housing costs are rising and wages are stagnant, many residents are just a paycheck away from homelessness.
Economic insecurity creates a climate of fear and anxiety, which feeds into a swirling panic about crime, drug use, and homelessness. Instead of scapegoating drug users and homeless people, we should direct our collective rage against those in positions of power – police and politicians, bosses and landlords.
Housing costs are skyrocketing across Surrey, with more than a third of renters, and a quarter of homeowners, spending more than 30% of their income on housing. Guildford is especially hard hit: 43% of renters in the area spend more than 30% of their income on rent. Without affordable housing options, people end up homeless. The last official count found 600 homeless people in Surrey, but in reality, Surrey is home to more than 1,000 homeless people, and this number is only climbing.
Every person who is homeless or precariously housed – every person sleeping on the streets, on a friend’s couch, in an over-crowded home, in their car, in a shelter, in temporary modular housing, with an abusive partner, or in a place they just can’t afford – needs a secure, permanent, and dignified home. What we need is social housing.
Supportive housing perpetuates the notion that homeless people are dangerous and need to be surveilled and managed in order to minimize their threat to society, rather than seen as full members of our communities. Supportive housing operators require residents to sign “program agreements” in order to treat them as “program participants” – not as tenants with rights under the Residential Tenancy Act. Under the supportive housing model, staff are allowed to enter residents’ rooms, set arbitrary rules, neglect residents’ safety and well-being, and evict anyone who complains. We need social housing, not institutional housing – with “supports” determined on a case-by-case basis, by each individual tenant, not sewn into the housing as a condition for tenancy.
People living in temporary modular units, stuck in shelters, or surviving on the streets or in the bush need dignified housing above all. Let’s rally together in the fight for homes not hate!