FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
DTES Continues Fight for Social Housing Not Condos, Despite Pantages Hoax
“Occupy Condos: Take Pantages” on Tues Nov 29th at 4 pm 150 East Hastings
Vancouver, Unceded Coast Salish Territory: This weekend the Downtown Eastside received the happy news that developer Marc Williams was throwing in the towel and selling his property at the Pantages site to the city for 100% social housing. Within two hours of the hoax release Marc Williams, developer of the gentrifying Sequel 138 condo and commercial development project on the 100-block of East Hastings, denied that he was selling the site to the City.
Beatrice Starr, member of the DTES Women Centre Power of Women Group and thirty-year resident of the neighbourhood is angry that the City and developers are complicit in escalating rents and gentrification. “The priority should be building social housing not condos. Marc Williams and all other gentrifying developers, real estate speculators, and greedy investors, as well the corporate-controlled City Council, should know that we will not abandon this fight,” she says.
On Tuesday November 29th at 4pm, an action “Occupy Condos: Take Pantages” will be taking place to reclaim the site for social housing. Organizers say that condo developers represent “the elite 1%” and must be exposed for their role in gentrification and displacement in the Downtown Eastside and for maintaining Vancouver as one of the most unaffordable cities in the world. They are demanding a moratorium on all condo development in the Downtown Eastside until no one is homeless, in SRO’s, or in shelters. They are also calling on Marc Williams to sell the site to the City at the 2010 assessed value for 100% resident controlled social housing and community space.
Contrary to William’s claims of ‘support’ by artists and DTES social service agencies for his project, public statements have been issued by a number of artists including Art Space Action Society who has severed its relationship with the project. Non-profit social housing providers have joined artists, saying “We would not want to be complicit in a project that will further displace, impoverish, and police residents of the Downtown Eastside and make people feel more unwelcome in their own neighbourhood. Over 40 organizations and 1200 DTES residents have signed a similar DTES Community Resolution opposing condos at the old Pantages Theatre site.
Jen Allan, founder of the survival sex worker support group Jen’s Kitchen and Downtown Eastside Neighbhourhood Council board member says, “The city talks about safety for women and for survival sex workers, but safety means safe and affordable housing for sex workers and their children. Condos in the DTES will not help survival sex workers, they will hurt them.”
Mona Woodward, Executive Director of Aboriginal Front Door Society, is concerned about the impact of condos on the vital services in the 100-block for the low-income community “The 100-block includes important services like AFD which represents off-reserve Aboriginal people. For us, the fight against gentrification is also against colonialism.” Herb Varley, Nuu-chah-nulth youth and SRO resident agrees, “Who is this government making the city liveable for? We need justice not charity.”
According to Dave Diewert of Streams of Justice “Dropping market housing onto this block is a gentrification bomb with increased rents, land speculation, more condo projects, upscale businesses, and enhanced security and police presence. We have witnessed these impacts on the area due to Woodward’s, and projects like Sequel 138, 21 Doors, and Paris Annex will unleash similar forces. These condos projects are unethical, which is why we have called for a boycott on condos in the Downtown Eastside.”
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Media Contacts: Ivan Drury 604 781 7346, Harsha Walia 778 885 0040.