Sunday, March 27, 2016
The Vanishing SRO
CCAP's 7th Annual Housing and Hotel Report highlights slumlord tactics
Maria Wallstam, Carnegie Community Action Project
CCAP fought a block-by-block battle with condo developers for affordable single rooms — and won.
ision Vancouver is in denial about the loopholes in the Single Residency Accommodation ( SRA) In response to the Carnegie Community Action Projects’ report on escalating rents in SRO hotel rooms, Councillor Andrea Reimer argued that low-income housing is protected by the Downtown Eastside Plan. “If you want to convert a SRO room” she said to Global News, “it would now cost you $125,000 per room plus you would need the approval of city council.”
While it is true that there is a SRO conversion fee of $125,000 for landlords who want to convert SRO units, most landlords are able to avoid paying this fee. According to the City, “conversion” means changing a SRO room into a condo, apartment or backpackers hostel. A conversion permit is also required when a repair involves the relocation of a permanent resident.
But what landlords generally do is illegally evict tenants one by one or bribe them to move before commencing any renovations. This is what happened at Low Young Court (406 Union Street) which is now advertising SRO rooms as “hipo urban micro living” with rent rents ranging from $800 to $1100.
Sometimes the landlords let the buildings fall into such a state of disrepair that tenants have to be emergency evacuated. This is what happened at Burns Block. When tenants have been illegally evicted or forced to move before the renovations start, landlords don’t have to provide the tenants with a relocation plan, or right of first refusal and they don’t either have to pay the $125k conversion fee.
“It's time that city council recognize this fact and acted on it,” said Maria Wallstam, one of the authors of CCAP's report,Our Homes Can't Wait . “If we keep losing SRO rooms at this rate, homelessness will increase by hundreds in the coming years.
You can read CCAP’s 2015 Hotel Report here:www.ccapvancouver.files.wordpress.com/2008/11/2015hotelreport.pdf
The Carnegie Community Action Project (CCAP) works mostly on housing, income, and land use issues in the Downtown Eastside (DTES) of Vancouver so that the area can remain a low income friendly community. CCAP works with DTES residents in speaking out on their own behalf for the changes they would like to see in their neighbourhood.
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