Throughout her 33-year career, Judy Graves was the public face of City Hall to those living in Vancouver’s streets and shelters.
She knew who they were, what they needed, and how to get a roof over their heads. She reached out to them, often in the late hours of the night. She knew the ins-and-outs of City Hall, especially the ins, and who did what. She knew how to get the right kind of help to the people who needed it.
While her successes were measured by the individuals she helped day to day, her strategy was long-term – how to get the safe and secure housing the city needed to keep people off the streets. Not something that can be done by a single person, or even single level of government. Success is rarely acknowledged after a project is funded and built, the ribbon is cut, the people housed – and attention turns to the left out or the newly arrived. But here’s the thing: when Graves retired from City Hall in the spring of 2013, Vancouver’s streets had fewer people sleeping outside because of her unwavering belief that the number of homeless in our city could – and should – be zero.
Judy Graves has an insider’s skepticism of the usual narratives, and the ability to dissect the social geography of a homeless camp or the surprising insights and support from the city’s elites.
Judy has a very Vancouver story to tell — in her youth, in her work, and in her life. She tells it here.