Update on Whats Happening At Alma Blackwell

We now have 572 signatures on our petition https://chng.it/JYgGFdtSRs


We have a Save Alma Blackwell (DRAFT) document outlining the communications, conduct and issues https://www.dropbox.com/s/n175wb5kf172fwx/Help%20Save%20Alma%20Blackwell%20DRAFT.pdf?dl=0
We have learned that the property manager has shared with some tenants that she has “someone reporting to her”, a mole if you will, and that she attended the September13th GWAC meeting.


On September 15th, we received the attached letter from ENFHS Board Chair, Francesca Sorace (via the AB Property Manager) stating that:“The Board of Directors of Entre Nous Femmes Housing Society would like to announce the departure of its Executive Director, Lisa Clement effective October 1, 2021.”  


Since the beginning of my tenancy 18+ years ago, we have never had direct access to the ENFHS board of directors so I took the liberty to find Francesca on linkedin with the following message:   “My name is Linsea O’Shea and I have been a resident of Alma Blackwell since July 1st, 2003.  I am writing to you today, on behalf of many tenants of AB, to request a meeting with you and/or the Board of Directors regarding the demolition of the building as well as the conduct and behaviours we have incurred over the years from ENFHS personnel.  We would welcome our voices to be heard, for the very first time in decades, and we would welcome transparency from a representative of ENFHS which is also something we have not experienced in decades.”  Twelve days later I received the following from the board email address:“Thank you for your heartfelt message. Please know that the members of the Entre Nous Femmes (ENF) board have read your message and want to thank you for reaching out.  We appreciate that you would like to meet with the board. ENFHS will reach out in the coming weeks to provide a new date for the tenant meeting. By having one meeting with all tenants, we will ensure clear and meaningful information is communicated to all tenants of Alma Blackwell at the same time. In regards to conduct and behaviours from ENFHS personnel, the board would very much like to hear directly from you. Please provide a description of your experiences by email. Kindly continue to share your thoughts and concerns via email as it provides a way for all board members to be informed of information shared with the board. Kindly continue to share your thoughts and concerns via email as it provides a way for all board members to be informed of information shared with the board.”  On October 2nd, I responded with:“For what it is worth, and just to be clear, my message was not heartfelt – it was frustrated – and I did not send via email platform. I would appreciate an in-person meeting so I can see whom it is that I’m speaking with – which will ensure clear, meaningful and and trust-driven communication. How else can I know that the board is actually reading/reviewing these emails? How is it that you do not know of the  questionable and abusive conduct I have withstood over the years from ENFHS personnel?  Why is it that tenants are blocked from being members of the society? Let’s start there.” I have not heard anything back to date.


On September 17th, the Save Alma Blackwell committee virtually met with Neil Monckton, plus Alex Chan and Alvin Singh.  After hearing from a few of us on the issues/matters at hand, he stated that he would coordinate a meeting with our group and Mayor Kennedy.  During our email thread update, Neil stated that:“We have spoken to Minister Eby’s office and staff at BC Housing over the past week.  We reaffirmed your request to meet with the Minister and staff told me they were aware of the concerns being raised. Let me know if you don’t hear back from them.  BC Housing is also aware of the concerns being raised and we will continue to keep in touch with them.  We have also spoken to the City Manager’s office and to the Planning staff who have responsibility for development applications. Right now, nothing has been filed with the City so there is no pending action from staff.”  I keep bringing the email thread back to the top so our group can be heard by the Mayor.

On September 22nd, a UBC report came out finding that Vancouver has the highest eviction rates in the country and Global News came to Alma Blackwell and interviewed single-mother resident, Rhiannon Latimer, about the report and about being demovicted. https://globalnews.ca/video/8214220/bc-renters-faced-with-highest-eviction-rates-in-canada-report?fbclid=IwAR3b0dZySnNwbLkZk3_mVAooGgrSVy4KztoGVklWwDk2YzY0c8D3Nx_onNA#autoplay

On September 29th, the Daily Hive posted an article on how Canadian renters are losing $769 more per month than homeowners. https://dailyhive.com/vancouver/canadian-homeowners-paying-less-than-renters?fbclid=IwAR2S3qHwm7XVcqNLR3cythrpW3J6hwQz07wd0SkpR1iX8NmWPKA3H_ZPy48


A majority of residents will not be able to return due to new and pending income parameters set by ENFHS and their new relationship with BC Housing. These new terms breach our current tenancy agreements. Those that can afford to move, have left, leaving residents facing an uncertain housing future for vulnerable people in a challenging rental market.
Although it seems that the property manager has stopped her efforts in rehousing tenants, we have lost another tenant and we now have 15 empty suites (which still begs the question about the empty home tax).  The property manager is now difficult to approach, is quite defensive and launching into big spiels about how they’re “not forcing anyone to move right now” and “we understand this is stressful” blah blah blah and telling tenants that they could “end up homeless if they stay to the bitter end”.  She told one tenant that if she is offered an alternative place to live that she should take it because she “can’t guarantee she can offer another one and that wouldn’t be a good idea because she wouldn’t want the bailiffs to have to remove her”.  
One couple that moved asked for the compensation (of one month rent and moving costs) and were told that “ENF never asked anyone to move out or were forced to do it”.


On October 7th, I recieved the attached email from Jenny Kwan with this message “The concerns that you have raised with regard to tenant concerns, as well as the funding of the redevelopment of the building, rest within provincial government jurisdiction. I have taken the liberty of writing to BC’s Minister responsible for Housing, David Eby, and BC Housing CEO Shayne Ramsay, to inform them of your concerns and requested that they follow up with you directly.”


As of today’s date, October 17th, I am waiting to hear from the CoV Chief of Staff, Neil Monckton, for the promised meeting with the Mayor. When Emad Agahi came to interview Rhiannon for the news hour piece, he indicated that he would like to return and interview more of our neighbours. I have people lined up and ready to go!


I have been trying to get usage of our common room, vicious raccoons relocated, the recycling moved to outside our fence due to an ongoing trespasser uttering threats to tenants, screens on some our windows replaced due to insect infestation and adequate lighting in our courtyard. Some of these ongoing maintenance requests go back as far as January, and it is clear to me that the property manager / ENFHS refuses to put any monies toward this site, in spite of the fact that 95% of us still living here are not subsidized and are paying rent.

Alma Blackwell Presentation & Petition

Entre Nous Femmes Housing Society (ENFHS) is redeveloping Alma Blackwell (AB) (1656 Adanac Street) – destroying a building that is iconic in East Vancouver, a visible legacy of feminism and the struggle for decent, low rise rental housing, pioneered by single mothers – without considering repair of the building and is sending people who need affordable housing into the street to build affordable housing for other people.

GWAC hosted a meeting of the tenants of the Alma Blackwell Society recently.

View the presentation here–>https://tinyurl.com/jjy6up7v

View their movie here—>https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a18gfooZhxM

Please take a moment to sign their petition here—>https://tinyurl.com/364zxara

The Killing of Alma Blackwell

Written by Jak King. Link to the Full article here–>https://jaksview3.wordpress.com/2021/09/14/the-killing-of-alma-blackwell/

In the early 1980s, a small group of women decided they needed a safe affordable place to live and to develop a community for women and their children. To achieve their ends, they established a Housing Society called “Entre Nous Femmes” which eventually built and developed the 46-unit Alma Blackwell housing project at 1656 Adanac Street, named after the grandmother of one of the group’s founders.

Alma Blackwell rapidly became the community the founders hoped for. Many women in need and their children lived in the housing project, often for decades. It has continued to thrive as a community and its success created the ability for the Housing Society to build more and more similar projects until today, ENF has eleven buildings in Vancouver.

Although not legally structured as a co-op, the ENF project operated within that milieu: the residents helped build and maintain the buildings, and controlled the Society. However, as the years passed, the governance became more and more removed from the residents, more distant, until today the residents are not only not allowed to be directors of the society, and are routinely refused access to the Society’s minutes, they even find it difficult to find out who is a director of their Society.

That change in governance has been matched by the recent unwillingness of the Society to maintain the property in a fit and livable manner. Moreover, a number of vacancies have occurred over the last couple of years which the Society has seen fit not to fill — even while the City suffers its worst ever housing crisis. This led to suspicions that something big was afoot — but the Society would not explain to the residents except to suggest that the Society did not have the funds needed to keep the building in good repair. When asked for details of the repair costs, the Society refused to respond to residents’ requests.

In April this year, Vancouver City Council approved a motion that doubled the height of buildings allowed in certain zones, including the RM-3A zone in which Alma Bakewell sits. Almost immediately thereafter, plans to demolish Alma Bakewell and replace it with a much larger building were bruited and the residents were given, by a consultant hired by the Society, an unofficial official eviction notice.

Since that time, the Society has essentially refused to speak with the residents except to pressure several of them to accept relocation to other facilities. The Society has no formal Tenant Relocation Plan, is not offering any compensation, and in at least one case offered a resident a mere 24 hours to decide whether she and her child would move from the their decades-long home and move to another building, the details of which were not disclosed.

This story, and plenty of others, were movingly told by Alma Bakewell residents at last night’s Grandview Woodland Area Council (GWAC) meeting. All the talk was about how great a community had been fostered at Alma Bakewell; people have lived there long enough to have children and grandchildren. They are a close-knit family-like community with good and close ties to the rest of the neighbourhood. Many of the residents are teachers at Britannia.

It seemed a unanimous opinion of the large gathering at the meeting that it is simply ridiculous to destroy a perfectly good low-income community just to build a larger facility that will have to start from scratch once again after a gap of who-knows-how-many years. It is pointless from a neighbourhood point of view, and it is highly destructive to the current residents, families who have spent years developing and nurturing that community.

Councillor Jean Swanson attended the meeting and will be asking a number of questions of staff. However, she was pessimistic about the chances of reversing the course of this development, given the current majority on Council and the previously-approved zoning adjustment. No matter. The wider Grandview community needs to speak up about this, and I hope we can speak so loudly that we cannot be ignored.

The Future of Alma Blackwell

Join the Grandview Woodland Area Council for

A Discussion about the Future of Alma Blackwell
This Monday, September 13th at 7:00PM
 

Join Zoom Meetinghttps://us02web.zoom.us/j/82239470035Meeting ID: 822 3947 0035Find your local number: https://us02web.zoom.us/u/kehXdP7te4  

The topic of this month’s meeting is the renovictions and demovictions of apartment buildings in Grandview as a direct result of changes in zoning.

Steve Bohus will provide us with a bit of the background and an overview of what’s been happening in Grandview since the Grandview-Woodland Community Plan was approved by Council, including the changes that were introduced only last April. These have had a profound impact on potential redevelopment of perfectly good mature housing stock. 


After Steve’s summary, we’ll hear first-hand from the people who live at the 1970s Alma Blackwell development on Adanac Street, who are in danger of losing their current secure housing. Rather than repairing and maintaining the development and keeping their tight-knit community together, the society that manages their project, Entre Nous Femmes Housing Society, intends to demolish it and build new — taller buildings with smaller units. 

HELP REQUESTED FOR DRY TREES!

Joe McLeod, city arborist and supervisor of urban forestry for Vancouver, is asking residents to water dry trees on Vancouver Boulevards twice a week, for up to a 10-minute period.

It’s best to water the trees under the entire canopy of the trees, between the stem and the farthest branch.

Watering should be done early in the morning or in the evening to avoid water losses from evaporation.

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/vancouver-trees-dry-out-1.6091094?fbclid=IwAR3ClWeiCwARCdJ7jRarUVpixe-CCFUxiC5lXwLLK2o8jjw833FvMEZHiJs