Yesterday morning, tenants of non-profit housing near Commercial Drive held a press conference to support two of their neighbours currently fighting evictions. In collaboration with the Vancouver Renters’ Union, the tenants called on the Residential Tenancy Branch to strike down the evictions. They also spoke out against lack of repairs, inadequate pest control and rent increases.
Their landlord is the Housing Foundation of BC, a registered charity which owns and operates 24 buildings across the city with a mandate to provide “income-based, rent-controlled housing to mature Vancouverites in need.” HFBC tenants sign a lease stating that their “rent is based on income,” yet many tenants pay rents above 55% of their income. Most tenants also receive a subsidy from HFBC that keeps their out-of-pocket rents affordable.
Recently HFBC began revoking subsidies from still-eligible tenants, making apparent the problem of landlords ‘subsidizing’ tenants instead of simply setting rent at affordable rates. Suddenly these elderly renters were faced with rent increases upwards of $185, or 28% of their original rent. Even with SAFER grants (Shelter Aid for Elderly Renters) from the province, they could not afford to start paying 60% of their meagre fixed incomes on rent.