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No Fixed Address documentary puts focus on Vancouver housing crisis

Maurice Bilovus and his Van/home is part of the new documentary No Fixed Address. The Charles Wilkinson film focuses on the Vancouver real estate and housing crisis. Tina Schliessler

Angel Chang, fashion designer, late of New York Shanghai and Paris, talks about living and housing in Vancouver in the new Charles Wilkinson documentary No Fixed Address.

The topic is as omnipresent as rain, athleisure wear and fish tacos.

Who is buying?, who is selling?, and who the heck can afford to live here are topics that have hijacked many a dinner conversation.

Like the rest of us, filmmakerCharles Wilkinsonfound himself in the real estate conversation cycle. He heard about people cashing in and moving out of the city and people moving out of the city because they didn't have the cash to buy in the first place.

Wilkinson decided to look closely at the runaway train of Vancouver real estate and what he found is chronicled in his new documentary No Fixed Address. The film has had recent success at the Hot Docs and DOXA festivals and is now set to enjoy a full theatre run here at VanCity May 19 to June 8.

"You say 'I am working on a movie about Haida Gwai' and they say 'isn't that somewhere near Alaska?' They don't really connect to it," said Wilkinson recently. "You say, like with this movie, I am replica bracelet van cleef alhambra working on a movie about housing and they are 'oh my God don't get me started."

Wilkinson is known for his trilogy of environmental documentaries: Peace Out, Oil Sands Karaoke and Haida Gwaii: On the Edge of the World. His latest film fits squarely into this oeuvre.

"I've been making a series of environmental films and it occurred to me that we're making films about places that people say fake van cleef bracelet are under threat from over commercial exploitation, so we are all over the north and stuff," said Wilkinson recently. "It suddenly occurred to me my immediate environment, which is Vancouver, is a place that people are saying is under a real threat for commercial over exploitation so the parallels are pretty direct. It is an environmental story."

It is a human rights story too.

"The United Nations seems to think so," said Wilkinson about our right to housing. "So I will go with them."

Wilkinson's film is in chapters. Each block delivers and sticks to a theme. From outlining the problem to backstory to different choices to following the money, the pillars of this issue are laid out and clearly discussed by those close to the issue.

I don'tlike pointing the finger at anyone. That's not our job. What we are trying to do is explain what is going on and have people come to their own conclusions," said Wilkinson.

One conclusion is we need more, but different types of housing. Housing people can afford to buy and rent and live in with families. Towers of one bedroom and studio suites are mostly serving investors. They are nothing more than "stacked safety deposit boxes," legal analyst and journalist Sandy Garossino says in the film. "Vancouver in many ways is a manufacturing centre. We manufacture and market condos. They just stay here."

"The housing market is broken and when you are dealing with a core essential need in our lives simply leaving it to the market to decide what gets built, how much and what kind produces the failure before us," said Seth Klein director of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) recently.

CCPA has done studies and according to Klein it's not about stopping development but about doing it with all of the citizenry in mind.

"We need to sustain the building but in a more and deliberate and better way," said Klein. "We (CCPA) said the government should do something really bold and have at the heart of its strategy to build out 10,000 units a year of social and co op housing."

The government, 15 per cent foreign buyers tax aside, has dragged its feet on this one.

And because of that the issue and the stories in the film forever point back to political will, or more accurately the lack of it.

"This story is having a direct physical impact on every single one of us, rich or replica van cleef bracelets poor, yet it hasn't been debated in any kind of meaningful way," said Wilkinson.

In the film the mayor of Vancouver Gregor Robertson states: "we are sliding towards having way too much inequality. We are letting the market determine the future."

OK feel free to yell at this part of the film as you remember who donates to political campaigns. Just saying.

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