The Our Streets Program is a new community-led way of keeping our streets clean and accessible for both housed and unhoused residents of East Hastings.
Launched in July 2022, the program is the brainchild of Stop The Sweeps Coalition members VANDU (Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users) and CPDDW (Coalition of Peers Dismantling the Drug War), but it has grown to include many more as individual accomplices and allied organizations mobilize to respond to the stunning and protracted displays of state violence and neglect being meted out on residents of the block.
The Our Streets program is serving as a replacement for the practice of street sweeps – where city workers collaborate with the police to decamp people and throw away their belongings. Our Streets favours a different approach, taking direction from and working in solidarity with the most vulnerable residents of the Hastings Tent City to ensure that their right to shelter in place is respected as per the City of Vancouver’s own MOU regarding encampments, as well as Section 7 of the Charter of Rights & Freedoms.
City workers have continued to do their regular cleaning in the surrounding areas, and the City of Vancouver have promised to expand access to more services on the block including:
- garbage cans
- increased storage
- desperately needed washrooms
But these items have been slow to materialize where they have materialized at all. While people await the arrival of these crucial and potentially life-saving interventions, the dedicated #OurStreets Block Stewards are out every day – keeping the block clean, connected, accessible, and safe.
On top of the street cleaning, the #OurStreets Block Stewards coordinates and offers a range of social activities aimed at building community connections and capacity, as well as boosting morale. Activities include: Meal Service (twice weekly), Music Lessons, Art Socials, Harm Reduction Outreach, Political Education, Healing and Talking Circles and a host of other social and educational workshops.
Looking for a way to support the #OurStreets Block Stewardship Program? Sign our #StopTheSweeps Election Pledge below to make prioritizing dignified, livable housing for all our unhoused neighbours – past, present, and future.