Homelessness in Vancouver and Real Estate

Homelessness is huge in Downtown Vancouver and is caused by a lack of funding for social housing and facilities/treatment for the addicted and the mentally ill. Changes in building codes and slum clearance have also reduced the stock of affordable housing in Vancouver over the last 40 years.

It is possible to make homelessness disappear in Vancouver.

To do this we need to spend money. We need to increase funding for the mentally ill and addicted and create or rehabilitate facilities house and treat these people.

People are not homeless choice. Most of the hardcore homeless have serious addiction and mental illness issues and would have been institutionalised in years gone by.

These people cannot look after themselves let alone properly house or feed themselves. Governments along with NGO’s and charitable bodies should be given resources to house and treat these people. This would be a great way to spend some of the stimulus money supposedly coming out of Ottawa and Victoria

Homelessness isn’t cheap either. Hard core addicts need to feed their habit which can cost hundreds of dollars a day. Vancouver has recently been ranked the break-in capital of North America with per capita break ins higher than New York or Detroit.

Reduced policing costs, insurance costs, and security costs can go a long way to offset the increased costs of housing and treating the homeless.

Wikipedia has a great article on homelessness in Canada that will provide great context to this post.

Please leave a comment and have your say!


  Comments: 7

  1. I totally agree that it is in everyones best interest to reduce the homeless population in Vancouver. The problem is there is no easy way to do it. I read in the Province a month or so ago that in the last 10 years over $1.4 billion (thats billion with a B) has been spent on the downtown east side homeless by government and private organizations. That is a staggering amount of money and it has made a small difference, if any. I don’t think the problem is lack of funding I think the problem is lack of organization. All of these people are individual people with individual problems; therefor there is no blanket solution to help them all. Even if they do break their addictions there isn’t much motivation to get a job and become productive members of society because someone coming off the streets isn’t likely to make more than $10 an hour. That is probably less then they were making by collecting welfare and begging or stealing. I actually think the high price of real estate contributes to homelessness because it causes high rents which makes finding a home even more difficult if someone does clean up. I just think it is kind of ironic that you said reducing homelessness will increase real estate prices, when the high prices are part of the cause of homelessness.

    I agree reducing homelessness would be great for the city, I just don’t think there is an easy way to make it happen, or it would have been done by now.

  2. Hi Dave!

    Thanks for commenting!

    I agree with much of what you’re saying.

    I agree that there needs to be an organized and coordinated effort to get these people off the streets. I think re-opening Riverview Hospital ( and NOT redeveloping it into market housing!) and opening other facilities to get the people who need treatment off the streets.

    I do think all of these people need housing, so I will call for that blanket solution. I also call for getting the addicted and mentally ill committed to these new and re-opened facilities and kept there until it is deemed they are either cured of their addiction or have their mental illness under control and have a viable plan for a life outside of care. If that costs another $1.4 Billion, I think its money well spent.

    The price of real estate probably now does contribute to homelessness, but only because there is a shortage of low income housing. Once the BC Government lives up to its responsibility to provide enough low income housing or housing vouchers, the price of real estate will have less bearing on the very poor.

    I think that when the impoverished addicted and mentally ill are off the streets and properly housed, real estate prices will rise because they are no longer living on these streets. Plus if these people are living in privately owned housing, the increased rental demand will also have an upward influence on price.

    We live in one of the richest countries on the planet. We have the resources to house and treat these people. Let’s just do it.

  3. Konstantin Rabinovich

    Wonderful post, Mr. Stewart.

  4. Hi Konstantin,

    Glad you liked it.

    I will be uploading a video soon about what you asked about in your comments on my last post.

    Thanks for commenting!

  5. As a Yaletown property owner I’m definitely concerned about the impact this development will have. I’m not against a helping hand as long as we are helping the right people. Criminals and junkies have broken the social contract we have with each other, and as such have no right to claim any privilege. I’m all for helping those less fortunate, but Robertson’s social experimentation has proven to be a dismal failure. I’m referring to the HEAT shelters under the Granville Bridge as the example (and don’t get me started on bike lanes and chicken coops). Unfortunately, the civilized single mothers, seniors, and physically challenged are not the typical tenants in these buildings. More often than not, it’s the borderline insane and drug addled junkies who make up the majority. Providing housing, while a noble intention, does not really solve their problems nor change their behavior. Medical intervention and treatment is the only true solution, and the money would be better spent on long term care and live-in treatment facilities.

    Some would argue that it isn’t fair to those who work hard that these individuals are given the opportunity to live in a prime community like Yaletown. It’s not at the forefront of my argument, however there is some merit in that stance, especially when the beneficiaries have demonstrated they neither care for nor have respect for their surroundings or other members of the community.

    The issue here isn’t about not helping those who need it, nor is it a case of ‘nimby’, it’s simply the suggestion that what’s required is a common sense and realistic approach for the homeless; who they are and what they truly need. What they don’t need is fancy housing in an upscale neighborhood.

    Thanks for allowing me to vent.


  6. Interesting article, really enjoyed it, Thanks for sharing

  7. Hi Sourosh,

    How’s the new office?

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