Squatting to make a point by dfhercbml


									Squatting to make a point
24 Hours, Vancouver
By Irwin Loy
Oct 24th, 2006

It's a tiny box of a room, covered in what is presumably dirt.

This could be the third straight day that Mary Clermont has woken up here.

"This is how most people that live in a residential hotel live," said Clermont, one of six
squatters who have taken up residence in the derelict old North Star Hotel. "I don't know
if you'd allow your dog to live in here."

To reach Clermont's top-floor perch in the heritage-listed building, one has to climb two
rickety flights of stairs, the first of which teeters on a rotten wood base.

The squatters, mostly members of a group called the Anti-Poverty Committee, huddle in
a slightly larger front room. There's a modest pile of supplies - cigarettes, canned food.

"You have to shit and piss in a bucket," explained Thomas Malenfant, another squatter.

"It's not a pleasant experience, but the next step is out there," he said, gesturing towards
the street outside - which is why the group says they have illegally seized the derelict

"The point is there's a minimum of 1,300 people that sleep on the street every night in
Vancouver," said Kim Kerr, who is also the director of the Downtown Eastside Residents
Association. "All of us have slept outside before and agree that as bad as this room no
doubt looks to the public, it is much preferable to sleeping outside."

The group is demanding the city buy the building to convert into social housing.

"We're committed to continually squatting these buildings, one after the other, until the
City of Vancouver does what it's supposed to do," Kerr said.

Squatters say the VPD has given them until 1 p.m. today to vacate the building.


What is SRO housing?

- In 1991, there were 6,000 SRO units in the DTES

- In 2005, there were roughly 5,000
- 20% rented at $325/month (shelter allowance)

- In 2002: 49% rented at $325/month

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