The end of the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics has marked two successes in Canada's pro-social housing movement.
Less than two weeks after opening the Olympic Tent Village, organizers announced that housing was found for 35 homeless persons staying at the Village. Village residents had previously stated that the action would continue indefinitely until housing was found for those in need. Activists also participated in a "tent-in" at BC Housing just hours before accommodation was announced.
While BC Housing claims that these persons would be housed regardless of the Tent Village, organizers are confident that it was instrumental in expediting the process.
Pivot Legal Society's Red Tent campaign finished their Olympic activities by setting the world record for longest banner wrap. On February 27, the day before the closing ceremonies, Red Tent supporters wrapped 1,700 feet of red banners around Canada Pavilion in downtown Vancouver, the longest banner wrap ever, according to the World Records Academy. Banners read "Homes for all," "Solving homelessness would save Canada 3 billion dollars a year," and "We can do better than tents."
The action is part of a larger effort to call for a national housing strategy. Pivot and other organizations concerned with issues of homelessness and housing are calling on Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Members of Parliament and the public to support Bill C-304, which would establish such a strategy. The Red Tent campaign will take its message and tents nation-wide in the lead up to a vote on the bill.
Currently Canada is the only G-8 nation without a national housing strategy.
According to John Richardson, Executive Director of Pivot, "solving homelessness isn't complicated. It's a matter of political will."
It is estimated that there are up to 300,000 homeless persons in Canada.
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