School of Policy Studies

School of Policy Studies
School of Policy Studies

Queen's Contagion Cultures Lecture Series  - Audrey Kobayashi and Jeff Masuda

Tuesday March 23, 2021  4:00 PM

Neoliberal faultlines and the third sector COVID-19 response in Vancouver's Single Room Occupancy Hotels

Audrey Kobayashi, Patricia Monture Distinguished University Professor and Queen’s Research Chair, Department of Geography and Planning Queen's University
Jeff Masuda, Associate Professor, Kinesiology and Health Studies; Canada Research Chair in Environmental Health Equity, Queen’s University

Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside (DTES), once a community of Japanese Canadians who underwent forced removal during the 1940s, became Canada’s largest concentration of degraded Single Room Occupancy (SRO) buildings that have continued to deteriorate since. After seven decades of public policy failure to address living conditions and related poverty and public health issues, today’s community faces inadequate housing, growing homelessness, and the threat of loss due to neoliberal neglect on one hand, and upscale redevelopment on the other. With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the community faced escalating risk from unsafe housing and the withdrawal of many essential services, including food, water, and healthcare. The Right to Remain team of collaborative tenant advocates and researchers quickly shifted efforts to provide basic needs and to stave off the effects of the pandemic. Recent weeks have seen growing awareness of housing and public health needs, and the beginning of public  policy shifts.

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