Homelessness is not new to Vancouver. There have been homeless people in Vancouver since it was founded in 1886. As in other major North American cities, until the late “70s and early “80s homelessness in Vancouver followed the economic logic of boom and bust capitalism.
However, since the run-up to the World Exposition of 1986, that logic has no longer been the determining factor influencing the growing number of homeless in the city. The “new poverty” that emerged in the 1980s is a product of the transition from an industrial-based capitalist economy to a post-industrial, global economy and a culture of consumerism, and the images of the homeless continue to haunt our social imagination.
Michael Barnholden is associate director of Humanities 101 at the University of British Columbia and managing editor of 'West Coast Line' at Simon Fraser University. He is the author of several books of poetry and non-fiction, most recently, 'Reading the Riot Act' (Anvil 2005). A Vancouver resident since 1970, Michael works as an advocate with the B.C. Coalition of People with Disbilities.
"In the pages of Street Stories, poor people cease to be a homogenized mass subject to pity; the book reveals individual histories and varying viewpoints. Several speak bluntly about daily drug habits or the need to steal in order to survive." — Prairie Fire
Editor’s Pick, The Vancouver Sun