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Distressed renters, where are you?

September 20th, 2010 · 20 Comments

My one-time buddy and sparring partner at the Vancouver Sun, Pete McMartin, has written a timely column on the problem of the missing renters in public debate.

Housing manager Don Littleford at Metro Vancouver has helped initiate a site for them at to prove that they’re out there.

As he said in a recent story I wrote about the STIR controversy in the West End, there’s a problem in that everyone talks about the need for affordable housing but when a fight breaks out over how to achieve it, as has happened with STIR, the voices of renters who might be in support are missing.

They’re also missing every time housing advocates go to the government to say that there needs to be more done to create affordable rental housing.

I know they’re out there. I’ve talked to so many of them in my years. And I, like almost everyone in this city, know all kinds of personal stories.

My son lived in a building in Strathcona where he didn’t have electricity for over a month. But he didn’t want to move or even complain because it had been hard enough to find a place he could afford ($400 a month with a shared bathroom) as it was. The landlord, needless to say, didn’t offer to give him a break on the rent. I’ve had students who’ve told me about their rental situations — nails coming up through the floor, doors so warped they had to go in through the windows — that sound Third World.

And those kids are from fairly privileged middle-class families. You can only imagine what is happening to others.

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