“A lot of F’s:” Stop Demovictions Burnaby releases Housing Report Card for the BC election

On Tuesday, April 25th Stop Demovictions Burnaby Released our 2017 Provincial Election Housing Report Card, which evaluates each major political party on their (in)action in regards to demovictions, social housing and protecting renters, and emphasizes that no party is taking bold enough action on these issues. We have created this report card because we want to support Metrotown residents’ understanding of who the candidates are and what they represent.

The BC provincial election is taking place in the middle of a homelessness and housing crisis, and yet we continue to see the same weak, status quo, market-based band-aid solutions from the Liberals, NDP and Greens. No party has offered struggling communities the non-market solutions necessary to address the housing and homelessness crisis.

After 16 years, the legacy of the BC Liberals is one of unrelenting market development, leading to an ever widening inequality gap, and an ever-increasing number of homeless people, and low-income tenants losing their homes. Social services funding has been gutted, and welfare rates have remained frozen. Every year of the past four years, the province has broken a new record on homelessness. The BC Liberal new platform, just like the old platform, has nothing to offer to renters and low-income people.

Although the NDP position themselves as the opposition to the Liberals, they cater to the same developer-profiting, gentrification-inducing housing market. While the Green party has promised $750 mil per year to construct a range of non-market housing, the NDP proposes a maximum of $265 mil per year on “housing affordability programs and new renters’ rebate”. After taking the $400 per year renter’s rebate into account, there will be little left over to build the non-market housing that low-income communities need.

The policies of Mayor Corrigan of Burnaby and his party the BCA, which is a junior affiliate of the NDP, have created the demovictions crisis in Metrotown and displaced thousands of renters. The NDP’s silence on these demovictions, are evidence that the NDP is also not interested in the renters and the working class.

Neoliberal government policies like these leave renters in precarious positions, as Matthew Hunter understands all too well. He spoke out about his struggles with finding stable and affordable housing, having moved four times in the past six years. Matthew was demovicted from his previous Metrotown apartment, and now lives in another apartment in the neighbourhood, under constant threat of demoviction. He spoke of landlord neglect, as his landlords ignore building maintenance because of predicted building demolition and big cheques coming their way, regardless of how many cockroaches and rats current tenants have to put up with. He criticized government inaction, calling out the NDP’s false pretense of being a party that wants to help the working person.

Ultimately, the report card makes it clear that market-based solutions will not solve the housing crisis. Building more owner-purchase condos and subsidizing developers through a “renter’s rebate” as the NDP has promised will not solve the housing crisis. Catering almost entirely to prospective home-owners, as the Liberals do, will not solve the housing crisis. These “solutions” will at best maintain the status quo of mass displacement and poverty, and at worst will pull us deeper into a crisis that is already drowning low-income renter communities.

Stop Demovictions remains steadfast in our demands. We need a provincial government that will: Restrict cities’ ability to destroy low-end of the market housing through developer-friendly upzonings. Stop landlord discrimination of renters based on race, sex, social class, age and ability and reform the RTB so that the landlords should have to apply in order to evict tenants. Implement rent control that stops rent increases on the unit regardless of tenancy. Commit to building 10,000 units of social housing every year in BC in order to end homelessness.

Read and download the full Stop Demovictions Housing Report card here.