Dear Minister Selina Robinson and Mayor Kennedy Stewart,
The Vancouver Tenants Union and other organizations are calling for an immediate moratorium on all evictions in light of the Coronavirus Pandemic.
BC is the eviction capital of Canada, with 80,000 residents facing either foreclosure or eviction over the last five years. The Vancouver Tenants Union is working with dozens of tenants right now who are facing threat of eviction at the end of this month by large developers like Port Living and John Stovell’s Reliance Properties. Relocating to alternative housing at this time is next to impossible because many landlords are cancelling rental open houses during the crisis.
Now, already pushed to the breaking point by housing costs and low wages, many more renters could be facing the threat of eviction due to loss of wages and a lack of emergency savings.
One in five tenants in BC pay more than 50% of their income to rent. A survey conducted by Leger polling in 2019 showed that 53% of Canadians report living paycheck to paycheck with 20% struggling to get by and 14% of respondents in a dire financial situation, such as filing for bankruptcy or having something sent to collections. Authorities must step up now so that those losing wages due to this crisis do not also lose their homes.
Those already unhoused in Vancouver and British Columbia face the impossibility of taking proper measures to protect themselves from COVID 19. The 2019 Homeless Count indicated that 2,223 residents in Vancouver identified as homeless with an additional 614 people living on the street and 1,609 people living in sheltered locations, including emergency shelters, detox centres, safe houses and hospitals. People who lack housing or proper access to sanitation and rely heavily on community services don’t have the resources to “socially distance” themselves. We recognize the vulnerable position of unhoused people in our communities, and we stand in solidarity with them and their fight for access to healthcare, dignified housing and human rights.
The Vancouver Tenants Union and other organizations are calling on the municipal, provincial and federal governments to:
- Enact an immediate moratorium on all evictions in British Columbia until the pandemic COVID 19 declaration is lifted, with an ensuing grace period.
- Take direction from community service groups and provide emergency funding for sanitation and food services as well as safe housing for those vulnerable to the COVID 19 virus including the unhoused and those with multiple health conditions.
- Enact an immediate freeze on all mortgage foreclosures to prevent working class people from missing their payments and losing their homes due to decreased wages and ability to work
- Provide emergency funding for increased and timely access to EI so that low-income workers can prioritize their health and safety, and increase top up.
- Provide financial support for precarious gig workers, people who work informal economy and contractors who do not have access to employment insurance.
Renters should not be facing threats of evictions and homelessness during the COVID 19 pandemic. These measures are absolutely necessary to curb the COVID 19 outbreak and protect the health and lives of thousands of people in British Columbia.
Tenants organizations from across North America have joined the call for an immediate moratorium on all evictions in the wake of the pandemic COVID 19 outbreak. Last week, tenants in San Jose and San Francisco won a pandemic eviction moratorium and similar action is being contemplated in Italy and cities across North America including Los Angeles, Sacramento, New York, Philadelphia, Oakland, Miami-Dade and Seattle. In New York, the Housing for All coalition garnered 7000 signatures in a single day sending strong signals to authorities to institute a ban on evictions.
Contact for more information:
Vancouver Tenants Union: [email protected]
Downtown Eastside SRO Collaborative
Add your voice by emailing BC Premier John Horgan, provincial Housing Minister Selina Robinson and Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart!
2. Write from your own experience and/or concerns about why an eviction moratorium is necessary during the outbreak, and feel free to add in any points from our statement above.
3. Add a link to this statement (copy https://www.vancouvertenantsunion.ca/evictions_moratorium) and send!