Attention all Press:
SALES PICKET AT THE OLYMPIC VILLAGE SELL-OFF
Saturday, March 5, Noon | Olympic Village Sales Centre
On Saturday, February 26, 2011, housing activists, low-income residents, homeless, and allies, attempted to establish a tent city at the site of Vancouver’s largest social housing sell-off, the Olympic Village. The action was organized in order to pressure the City to deliver the affordable ‘Housing Legacy’ promised to Vancouver in the lead-up to the 2010 Olympics. The rush on the part of the city and police to suppress our right to gather in public space is telling, given the seriousness of our demands: a return to the original promise of 66% (roughly 800 units) social and affordable housing at the Olympic Village, an end to the criminalization of poverty, and a concrete plan to purchase the 10 sites designated by the community for housing in the Downtown Eastside.
Throughout the day on February 26, public space was repeatedly declared off-limits. After being evicted twice – first from the public park in the Olympic Village plaza, secondly from the park directly south of the Olympic Village, and then being denied access to the public community centre – tenters then reclaimed the only space left: the interior of a vacant retail space once slated for the high-end Urban Fare. Police responded by arresting eleven people inside. Despite their show of force, police overreaction has only galvanized the community. The housing crisis is felt by all people in the city as living costs outpace our incomes and homelessness continues to grow. We demand that the state respond to the housing crisis not by escalating its police operations, but by taking actions that empower people through member-controlled, affordable housing.
This Saturday, March 5, the community will return to the site of the social housing sell-off at the Olympic Village. We will establish a picket-line at the Olympic Village sales centre, asking that citizens of conscience refuse to purchase the ‘broken promise’ units. We will also present a cheque for $400m, as requested by City Councilor Suzanne Anton, drawn from the City’s $3b Property Endowment Fund. The money will help accomplish housing promises by immediately providing affordable housing to the poor and working class people who work for the rich day by day. The City has bailed out billionaire Millennium and has mismanaged the project by failing to reclaim their loan, either in cash or from Millennium’s assets. It is not and never has been the taxpayers’ responsibility to pay out-of-pocket for this whole project. In spite of the Mayor’s rhetoric of “empty drawers,” the City of Vancouver has sources of revenue for promised housing, including basic revenue lost from hosting a global tax haven. Vancouver has the lowest corporate taxes in the world. Enough is enough. Yesterday was too late – Reclaim Housing now!