Disabled housing plan Pearson Dogwood property will create institutions
By Paul Caune
A disabled housing plan in the Vancouver area is a bad idea and should be scrapped as soon as possible for the good of the disabled voters who will live there.
disabled housing plan
Paul Caune is the executive director of CIVIL RIGHTS NOW!
The policy is intended to guide how the Pearson Dogwood property (on which the George Pearson Centre [GPC] institution lies like the rotting carcass of a giant squid) will be redeveloped by the Vancouver Coastal Health Authority (VCH).
The policy includes VCH’s commitment to use the “Proposal for Housing and Support for Pearson Redevelopment” as the plan for housing and supports for disabled citizens included in the redevelopment.
The Pearson Dogwood Policy Statement approved by the City of Vancouver has three flaws.
Disabled housing plan flaw #1:
The proposal includes this option:
“Groups of 1 – 4 people with disabilities living in 2 – 5 bedroom fully accessible apartments or houses with affordable subsidized rent … Decisions about new residents are democratically made by the persons already living in the house or apartment.”
Any tax-payer funded group-home intended to support disabled citizens is a public service. It is not legitimate for public agencies to delegate to anyone the power to decide if a citizen eligible for the public service in question will get it.
There will be a shortage of accessible, affordable housing with the proper supports for disabled citizens for the foreseeable future. Since the alternatives are life on the streets or living in institutions, there will be a ferocious competition between disabled citizens to get into the few units of proper housing for them in British Columbia.
What if in the event of a vacancy in the above model the remaining residents reject every applicant for the vacancy, or for reasons of prejudice reject an applicant? Who will get the vacant room if there are many applicants?
Whether a citizen gets a public service should not be decided by a beauty contest.
Disabled housing plan flaw #2:
The proposal contains this option:
“Each Greenhouse has 6 – 12 people, each with their own bedroom & bathroom.” (Greenhouses are a model of housing for seniors that’s become a trend in the USA.)
Any taxpayer-funded built-asset intended for disabled citizens designed with more than four bedrooms is an institution. Institutions bring out the worst in human beings. As the Japanese proverb says: the stake that sticks up gets hammered down.
Disabled housing plan flaw #3:
The proposal also states:
“The number of Greenhouses [in the redevelopment] that are built for persons with disabilities should depend on the personalized individual support plans of current Pearson residents. If many people want the Greenhouse model, then the number of these available should reflect that choice. If more people want other options, then the number of the other options should reflect that choice.”
If most of the current 114 residents choose to live in Greenhouses of 12 bedrooms, this means for decades after the construction of the Greenhouses, disabled citizens in desperate need of genuine independent community living will not be able to get it on the redeveloped site.
Jane Dyson, the Executive Director of BC Coalition of People with Disabilities (BCCPD), in her Feb. 5 speech in favour of the policy statement to Vancouver Council stated that some of the current residents have chosen to live in GPC.
GPC is clearly a violation of the UN Convention of Rights of Persons with Disabilities. GPC is not global best practises for the housing and support of people with developmental disabilities. And it is a sad fact of life that some people are afraid of freedom. We are not ethically obligated to let disabled citizens who choose to live in institutions determine public policy.
Choices made by adults that will most probably have consequences only for themselves are private matters.
Choices that will determine what will be the quantity and quality of public services for disabled citizens on the redeveloped Pearson Dogwood property for at least half a century are matters of public interest.
There is much in the Pearson Dogwood Policy Statement that—if put into action—will be in the public interest. But if the three flaws in the policy are put into action, the unintended consequence will be the wrecking of that which is in the public interest.