The City of Vancouver is in court today in an effort to shut down a makeshift tent city on the Downtown Eastside.
At least two of the homeless residents in the camp say they will leave peacefully if the City’s injunction goes through.
But while they’re prepared to pack up, they say they have nowhere else to go.
Stacey Dubois, who has been living at the 58 W Hastings homeless encampment and is named in the injunction, says shelters are full.
Even if there was a spot available, he says he wouldn’t feel safe.
“I’ve actually stayed at quite a few shelters in the past and usually had things stolen from me, and if not, it came down to bed bugs,” he said.
It’s a perspective shared by co-defendant Ilona Schlib, who says she feels safer in the camp than shelters.
“I don’t like them, I get scared being in them, I’ve had a couple of bad experiences, and after that, I just chose to sleep outside. There is a few of us there now and it’s really good, we’ve cleaned up the place,” she said.
Dubois says the real problem is the rental affordability crisis.
“There is no low rental at all for people to accommodate, affordability for rental units,” he says.
The city argues the encampment is posing significant health and safety risks, and conditions are deteriorating.
It has promised to find each camper a shelter space while carrying out a $70-million plan to build 250 units of social housing at the site.
But when he announced the project, Mayor Gregor Robertson admitted it would be several years before that housing was online.
A decision on the city’s injunction could come down as early as 2 p.m.