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Activist Toolkit roundup: Focus on Vancouver

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The Activist Toolkit has been focused on Bill C-51 and the Jobs, Justice and Climate march for the past many months. It is time to focus on and learn from local activism, and so in July and August the Toolkit blog will be highlighting the work done by local activists in cities across the country.

Last month, as our hearts broke as the no vote won in the transit plebicite, a lot happened in Vancouver that is worth supporting.

Vancouver Housing Authority and #Donthave1million: The average house in Vancouver now costs over $1 million. British Columbia has the worst record of housing affordability in Canada -- with almost one in three households spending more than 30 per cent of their gross income on housing costs.

On May 24, 2015 Vancouverites fed up with skyrocketing housing costs rallied for affordable housing for a second time, this time demanding the provincial government collect data on the real estate market. Specifically, the organizers want data on the percentage of homes bought by non-residents, citizens, non-citizens and permanent residents, how much of an impact money laundering from China has on the real estate market (the Chinese government estimates this in the billions), how fast homes are being flipped, and how many homes are left vacant.

The rally was organized by Vancouverites for Affordable Housing -- a group that describes itself as "your everyday residents and citizens who believe that the housing affordability crisis is damaging the long-term health of our beloved city."

Meanwhile two petitions have been launched. One calls for increased restrictions on foreign investors buying Vancouver homes and another, which is gaining lots of great stories and support, calls for the mayor to remove selfish yuppies from the City of Vancouver.

In other news on housing, public housing tenants and the Vancouver Housing Authority (VHA) reached a tentative settlement that may end a class action lawsuit. The tenants were challenging VHA's alleged failure to adjust its utility allowances when utility rates increased. The tenants allege that this failure resulted in almost 900 low-income Vancouver families paying more rent than allowed under federal law. Columbia Legal Services and Perkins Cole LLC represented the tenants and former tenants in this case. Anyone who resided in VHA Public Housing between April 1, 2004 and April 30, 2011 should contact VHA at 360-993-9526 or Columbia Legal Services to make sure that VHA has your current mailing address.

The court must now decide whether to grant final approval of the settlement, after taking into consideration any written objections filed by those affected. All objections must be filed by July 1, 2015. A "fairness hearing" to determine whether the terms of the proposed Settlement Agreement are fair and reasonable will be held on July 31, 2015 at 1:30 p.m. in Courtroom B at the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington at Tacoma, Union Station Courthouse, 1717 Pacific Avenue, Tacoma, Washington 98402.

Living wage: The City of Vancouver is now on its way to becoming a living wage employer. Read the toolkit post and find out how to build a campaign in your community.

And finally here is a great post from rabble.ca contributer Marvin Shaffer about plan B if the transit referendum fails. Unfortunately, it is time for Plan B.

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