Sunday 3 July 2011

Will U2's Bono support social housing in Montreal?

On the eve of the historic back to back U2 concerts at the former Blue Bonnets Raceway on Decarie Boulevard July 8 and 9, the Federation CJA Social Advocacy Committee is seeking the media’s assistance in raising the issue of social housing being built at this location.

More specifically, the committee’s Leah Berger is putting a call out to any media who will have a chance to interview U2 lead singer Bono (left) to raise this issue – one that he actually embraces.

In its effort to remind the provincial and municipal governments of their responsibility to combat poverty and to ensure that sufficient social housing units are made available to Côte-des-Neiges families and individuals living below the poverty line, the committee has been trying to reach Bono with the hope that he might lend his resonant voice to this cause.

“When U2 announced that its Montreal concert would take place on the Hippodrome site within the Côte-des-Neiges neighbourhood the committee knew it had to contact Bono,” said Michael Chervin, chair of the Federation CJA Social Advocacy Committee and executive director of Project Genesis. “For years, local organizations have been pursuing a common goal of ensuring that 2,500 social housing units are constructed within the wider development of the huge Hippodrome site. The province and the city need to make this long-term solution to poverty a practical reality. This is a diverse neighbourhood where over 40 percent of households live below the poverty line, 82% percentof households are tenants, and rapidly-climbing rents for local apartments are pushing people further into poverty.”

Susan Karpman, a member of the Federation CJA Social Advocacy Committee and director of community service and immigration for Agence Ometz added: “Bono’s venerable commitment to international human rights and environmental campaigns and to offering support for local communities is as well-known as his musical talent. The current situation in Côte-des-Neiges is a housing crisis of growing proportion in our own backyards. More than 1 in10 households living in this neighbourhood pay 80 percent or more of their monthly income on rent, often for sub-standard housing, including apartments with mould, vermin, and insufficient heating during the frigid winter months.”

Berger, the coordinator of the Federation CJA Social Advocacy Committee commented: “Our intention is to appeal to Bono’s social conscience and celebrity influence to make a public statement directed at both the provincial and municipal governments, encouraging them to take action and address the housing needs of individuals and families living in poverty. With all of the publicity devoted to the U2 concert, we see the concert as an opportunity to do something meaningful and draw attention to the enormous potential of this land to meet the housing needs of Cote des Neiges residents living in poverty.”

For more than a year now Berger has been trying to reach Bono. She contacted Evenko, the promoters of the concert. They were sympathetic to her efforts and agreed to pass on her letter to Live Nation. “I have tried many, many different ways of reaching Bono,” she says. “I even wrote to Oprah and asked her to pass on my letter, but to date, we have been unable to reach him directly so I am proceeding with my second strategy- asking the media for their help.”

1 comment:

  1. It seems obvious that external pressure is taking place to avoid likely 'scammers' thus actual evidence about where the income comes from and police records are essential. I disagree there should be a class A and class B of foreign nationals as to visas and paperwork.

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