Please write a support letter!!! (Template below)
Please write a letter to the Housing Minister Selina Robinson to support 3,000 tenants living in privately owned SROs who are at dire risk of homelessness due to escalating rents. Under the current law landlords can raise the rent as much as they want when a tenant moves out or is evicted. This gives SRO owners a huge economic incentive to kick their current tenants out. SROs that used to rent for $450 a month are now renting, with quick coat of new paint, for $700 a month or higher!
Our goal is to get rent control tied to the SRO unit, so that rents can only go up at inflation, even if a tenant moves out.
SRO tenants are some of the most vulnerable people in the province, many of whom are only an eviction away from homelessness. Tying rent control to the unit will relieve the stress caused by fear of eviction, prevent homelessness, and help preserve 3,000 low-income housing units.
On December 10, 2019, the Vancouver Mayor and Council voted unanimously for Councillor Jean Swanson’s motion (see link below) in support of asking the Province to tie rent control to the unit, not just the SRO renter. Councillor Swanson elaborated on many of the reasons this is so urgent in her Georgia Straight article (see link below). On December 19, 2019, the Mayor, on behalf of Council, wrote a great support letter to the BC Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, MLA Selina Robinson (see link below).
The Minister wrote a letter back to Councillor Swanson on January 15, 2019 saying no to full rent control in SROs. Why? The NDP government is worried that tying rent control to the unit will reduce investment in needed repairs. But if rent control is tied to the unit, SRO owners will still be able to increase the rent 2.5% a year, plus apply to the Residential Tenancy Branch for more extensive rent increases tied to renovations. With full rent control in place, SRO tenants could ask for modest repairs with less risk around retaliatory evictions, buildings will be in better repair, and real estate speculation on these homes will slow down. The Province tied rent control to the unit in the 1970s – repairs were still made during that time. It can be done!
Check out the background information below for good points to make in your own letter or feel free to use the template letter below.
- Councillor Swanson’s Motion: Motion – Slowing the loss of the last low income SROs in Vancouver: 2019 Dec 10
- Georgia Straight: “Jean Swanson: Let’s protect SRO residents from eviction to prevent homelessness”
- Mayor’s letter to Provincial Housing Minister Selina Robinson: Letter to Min.Robinson – Slowing the Loss of the last low income SROs in Vancouver – 2019-12-19
- Housing Minister’s letter to Councillor Swanson:Letter Response
- Letter to Housing Minister by Tom de Grey – an SRO tenants’ case study for vacancy control: Letter to Ministry of Housing
Selina Robinson, M.L.A. Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing – MAH.firstname.lastname@example.org;
Cut and Paste these Ministers and City Councillors into the CC field:
Premier@gov.bc.ca; SDPR.email@example.com; AG.firstname.lastname@example.org; HLTH.email@example.com; AEST.firstname.lastname@example.org; Kennedy.Stewart@vancouver.ca; CLRswanson@vancouver.ca; CLRbligh@vancouver.ca; CLRboyle@vancouver.ca; CLRcarr@vancouver.ca; CLRdegenova@vancouver.ca; CLRdominato@vancouver.ca; CLRfry@vancouver.ca; CLRhardwick@vancouver.ca; CLRkirbyemail@example.com; CLRwiebe@vancouver.ca;
BCC so we know how many emails have been sent:
SUBJECT: something along the lines of: “Support for SRO Full Rent Control”
Dear Minister and Colleagues,
My name is [Full Name]. I’m a resident of [Municipality/City], and work/study in [Industry/Field] and I live in [provincial riding]. As an active member of my community, I am involved with [Organization or Affiliation].
I’m writing to strongly support Vancouver Mayor and Council’s decision to formally ask the province to help slow the loss of the last rentals for very low income people in our city by implementing vacancy control in the Single Room Occupancy Hotels (SROs).
British Columbia is in a housing crisis, and there are a record number of homeless people in Vancouver, 39% of whom are Indigenous. The flow of SRO tenants into homelessness is increasing rapidly as rents go up in these buildings, which are often considered the last rental option for residents before homelessness. The average rent in an SRO is now $663/month, while a person on welfare, disability or old age pension has only about $375/month for rent. Over 85% of SRO tenants in Vancouver are on fixed income and 35% are Indigenous.
Tying rent control to the unit removes the incentive for landlords to find excuses to evict vulnerable tenants in order to replace them with tenants who can pay double or triple the current rents. It will help relieve the stress caused by fear of eviction, prevent homelessness, and preserve 3,000 low-income housing units. This simple change to the RTA would save taxpayers millions of dollars by preventing hundreds of tenants from entering homelessness. It’s the progressive and humane thing to do.
With vacancy control, landlords will still be able to afford regular repairs. For bigger repair jobs, landlords could access city renovation grants, raise rents through an application to the Residential Tenancy Board, or simply raise the rents every year at the rate allowed by the Province.
For these reasons and more, vacancy control in SROs was recommended by the City of Vancouver’s SRO Task Force in 2017, approved by City Council at that time as well.
I strongly encourage you to support Vancouver residents and their Mayor and Council by implementing full rent control in SROs now.
Please keep me updated on this issue.
[Your Name and contact info]