Department of Sociology
- Neil Armitage
City of Vancouver:
- Yuri Artibise
- Harjeev Sudan
- Cynthia Cui
- Jessie Blair
- Dhiether Chuahiong
- Vancouver City Planning Commission
Project Tenantable Tents aims to immediately implement amenities to improve living conditions for homeless persons temporarily taking refuge in Strathcona Park, as they await more permanent accommodation from the City of Vancouver. Since May 2020, a “Tent City” has grown at Strathcona Park, comprising nearly 25% of Vancouver’s homeless population.
The current situation at Strathcona Park is receiving primarily negative attention due to perceived safety concerns by residents of the neighbourhood and Vancouver’s population at large. This perceived threat diminishes the challenges faced by the individuals taking shelter at the Park. These challenges include a lack of appropriate sanitation amenities and alarming neglect of safety precautions regarding COVID-19. Research has consistently found that physically distanced spaces, frequent handwashing, and good hygiene are effective in preventing COVID-19. However, the resources needed for the practice of prevention strategies are not easily accessible to individuals experiencing homelessness. Thus, they are disproportionately vulnerable to transmission.
In addition to introducing an increased number of basic amenities such as bathrooms, we recommend the implementation of a Park Advisory Committee to promote collaboration between all parties involved — Tent City leaders, City of Vancouver representatives, Indigenous matriarchs, and the Strathcona Residents Association — regarding discussions of the future of the Tent City. We also recommend improved communal spaces (i.e. hexayurts) to provide campers with well-insulated areas where they can be served food and other required services.
While the government has pledged approximately $80 million towards funding more permanent solutions (e.g. building more accommodation) for homelessness in Vancouver, the current situation is more time-sensitive due to the imminent threat posed by a pandemic. As such, our project would provide an immediate interim solution to protect vulnerable individuals from the consequences of COVID-19 by improving the current living situation while the action is undertaken by the government.