On Tuesday, the NDP’s candidate for Vancouver-False Creek, Candice Bergen, launched her campaign for mayor, saying the housing crisis and homelessness are “deeply, deeply disturbing.”
“We are not afraid of housing.
We want a home.
And I’m not afraid to stand up for that,” she said at a campaign event in Richmond.
She also said her platform includes “affordable housing” and that she would “stop the privatization of affordable housing.”
In an interview on CBC’s Metro Morning this morning, Bergen acknowledged her platform is a little more than an election platform, but said she’s been in the public eye since the Vancouver election and she wants to make sure the city “gets the job done.”
“I want to make a change, because if we don’t make a difference we’re going to keep losing people,” she told host Evan Solomon.
“I’m going to do my best to help as many people as I can.”
For the past decade, Vancouver has been experiencing a sharp increase in homelessness.
According to a new report from the Vancouver Human Services Agency, the city’s homeless population has risen by more than 2,400 per cent over the past five years, and more than half of the increase is among people in the most vulnerable groups: seniors and the most at-risk.
The city is currently dealing with the aftermath of a wave of wildfires, and the city has faced an unprecedented increase in the number of people who need to be sheltered, according to the City of Vancouver.
The homelessness crisis has prompted the city to introduce its own plan to address the crisis, called the Vancouver Tenants Association Tenants Charter.
In the Charter, the province commits to increasing the number and the availability of affordable rental housing.
However, some of the proposals in the Charter are still not supported by the city.
Vancouver has also had a major firestorm of criticism for its approach to dealing with homelessness, with several mayors and councillors calling for a national strategy to address homelessness, including the Mayor of Toronto, who said it is a national crisis.
“This is a major public health issue, and it needs to be addressed by a national effort,” Mayor Rob Ford said in an interview with CBC News last year.
Ford has also said he wants to see the city provide more affordable housing for people who can afford it.
“We’ve got to look at this and say, what are we going to have to do, where are we gonna have to go, to make it affordable for people?” said Bergen.
“Because if we can’t afford to make that transition to an affordable place, what else is there for us to do?”
Bergen said her campaign is aimed at getting people on board with her agenda.
“The homeless is a crisis that is a health issue that’s been going on for decades,” she added.
“That is not something that we’re afraid to talk about, that we don´t want to talk to the media about, or that we won’t talk about because we donít want it to be a distraction.
We are in this for the long haul.”
With files from CBC News