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Downtown Eastside's Homeless Dave ends hunger strike

VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) – A 36-day hunger strike by the Downtown Eastside’s Homeless Dave has come to an end.

He wound up his crusade against gentrification Friday evening, surrounded by protesters at Pidgin Restaurant on Carrall Street.

“I’m weak and I’m feeling relief. I’m going to rest for a while, because, to tell you the truth, I’m exhausted,” he says.

He began his fast looking for three things: the conversion of the former police station on Main Street into social housing, a halt to a proposed condo on Hastings, and the transformation of the Downtown Eastside into a social justice zone.

While none of the ‘demands’ were met, he says he succeeded in galvanizing the community around the issue of homelessness and social housing.

During the month, he met with an MP, the head of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs and civic leaders. He’s disappointed in what the mayor of Vancouver had to offer. He says Gregor Robertson will look into whether the city can acquire the property on Hastings, but he says the opportunity to purchase it is likely long gone.

He says contrary to what we’re led to believe, fewer people are finding shelter.

“You had 850 homeless people in the neighbourhood in 2012. That’s a hundred more people than the year before.”

The number of people living on the street in March, 2013 in Vancouver dropped from 2012. But Dave argues the homeless count should be conducted after the winter shelters are closed in April.

He explains why the high-end restaurant on Carrall has become such a flashpoint.

“We are trying to say that commercial gentrification and condo gentrification feed into each other. There is a lot more of this coming in.”

He says he doesn’t expect the protests at the eatery to die down, since it symbolizes how the neighbourhood is changing.

pidgin protesters_renee bernard

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Tom Servua

Not-Actually-Homeless Dave is right about one thing, when he declares that his hunger strike has “galvanized the community”.

Indeed. He has galvanized the community AGAINST him, and his ridiculous Pidgin picket.

They want free public housing, and picket a restaurant that has nothing to do with public housing. The self-regard of Homeless Dave and his pals is pretty amazing — and they wonder why no one supports them.

But… Homeless and his pals never EVER picket the drug dealers and the pimps. What’s up with that?

April 27, 2013 at 1:57 pm

There’s lots of affordable housing in BC. It’s just not in Downtown Vancouver.

Most people in the DTES need help, not handouts. Let’s bring in proper mental health care facilities and not feel-good injection sites and community mental health workers.

If we can help these people instead of giving out free apartments, we can get to the root of the problem and not the after effects of it.

April 27, 2013 at 10:37 am

    I totally agree.
    Unfortunately- there are many making a fine living off the misery.
    They don’t want change. Eliminating money for salaries to all the “not for profits” and making them a volunteer service would go a long way to bringing about change that would actually help the people in need.

    April 27, 2013 at 12:14 pm