***For immediate release***
March 23rd 2020
After weeks of inaction, the BC Government today unveiled its measures to take effect during the COVID-19 global pandemic. Renters in particular have been anxiously waiting to hear whether they will be protected through a universal eviction moratorium and income support during an emerging rent crisis. Over 1,200 tenants have joined the Vancouver Tenants Union #BCRentCrisis campaign to speak out.
“What we’re hearing from over 1,200 tenants is that they can’t pay rent on April 1st. A $1,000 conditional one-time payment is not going to keep them in their homes. They are at a risk of eviction and they are panicking,” said VTU Steering Committee member Mazdak Gharibnavaz. “Putting thousands of tenants at risk due to eviction is directly in contradiction with what is best for public health. Relying on landlords’ good faith to not evict tenants is a complete abdication of government responsibility.”
In his press conference today, Premier Horgan made it clear that evictions already in progress will continue. “Many tenants we talked to are being evicted due to renoviction or landlord use and this announcement does nothing for them,” says VTU Steering Committee member David Hendry. “Directly choosing to expose some tenants to COVID-19 is reckless and unethical. For working families, watching this BC Government take this action under the pressure of the landlord and real estate lobbies is unimaginable. A universal moratorium, which has been enacted in over 20 jurisdictions in North America, would have allowed tenants to focus on what really matters: their personal and family’s health, and continuing social distancing in order to help flatten the curve of this pandemic.”
“The government’s response to vulnerable people today was loud and clear: drain your savings to pay your landlord or go into debt,” said Mazdak Gharibnavaz. “It is unacceptable and a non-starter to ask renters to bear the brunt of this crisis by going further into debt. This will be a huge burden for those slowly recovering from job loss or business closure in the times ahead. We will not wipe away the futures of some of the most vulnerable people in society to maintain profit margins for landlords and bankers.”
The Vancouver Tenants Union will keep organizing tenants to stay safe in their homes.
Tenant lives are not disposable.
Illustration by Helena Krobath