Protecting supportive housing and preventing homelessness

Today in the Huffington Post, City Council candidate RJ Aquino and the OneCity team called on City Hall to close the loopholes in bylaws that are supposed to protect low-income and supportive housing and prevent homelessness.

The City needs to actively enforce the Building Maintenance and Safety Bylaw to protect renters from poorly maintained buildings, especially single room occupancy hotels (SROs) that are being neglected despite past commitments and promises.

We need to strengthen the Single Room Accommodations bylaw to stop developers who are converting existing single-room accommodations into condos, sitting on empty dwellings, or worse, demolishing them and shipping the waste to landfills.

City Hall must also amend the Rate of Change bylaw that is supposed to replace rental units lost to redevelopment, making sure it applies to all zoning types, replaces bedrooms on a one-for-one basis, and that rents increase by no more than five per cent.

And we need to stop shameful renovictions by acting before development permits are issued, giving existing tenants rights of first refusal and again limiting rent increases.

These are concrete, real changes that can make a big difference to thousands of people throughout Vancouver. We believe that with a balanced city council, we can change the way we approach housing in Vancouver. We can prevent homelessness and we can help young people and working families who have given up hope of owning their own home here.

It starts with valuing housing not as game for only the big players, but as a social good.

Hear RJ Aquino this Thursday at the SCARP Affordable Housing Debate at UBC Robson Square Theatre, and read the full Huffington Post here.

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Image from WonderRooms on TheTyee.ca

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