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B.C. moves to cap rent hikes in Downtown Eastside SROs

Indigenous organizations, tent city residents and others hold a news conference outside the former single room occupancy Balmoral Hotel to protest the city's ongoing removal of a homeless encampment on the sidewalks in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, on Tuesday, August 16, 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck Indigenous organizations, tent city residents and others hold a news conference outside the former single room occupancy Balmoral Hotel to protest the city's ongoing removal of a homeless encampment on the sidewalks in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, on Tuesday, August 16, 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
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The B.C. government has introduced legislation that would allow the City of Vancouver to limit rent increases for new tenants in its poorest neighbourhood, the Downtown Eastside.

The rent cap is for those living in single-room occupancy buildings where the government says rents have increased from $800 a month to as high as $1,950 a month.

The Ministry of Housing says in a statement the move could benefit as many as 1,000 people, stopping them from being "exploited by some bad actors who are using pressure tactics on tenants" to leave so they can hike the rent.

The province says the proposed legislation would allow the city to enforce vacancy control in the area, and the government isn't looking to allow the same control over other rentals in the province.

Vancouver Mayor Ken Sim applauded the change, saying the city's vacancy control bylaw can curb the evictions, while protecting low-income tenants who often find that the units are the last available option before homelessness.

The release says the Downtown Eastside Collaborative Society cites that a minimum of 500 tenants have been displaced from private single-occupancy rooms and those numbers could increase over the summer if no action is taken.

Sim said in a statement that the bylaw is an important step in addressing the urgent need for low-income housing and protecting vulnerable residents.

"We want to ensure Vancouver remains a place where everyone can find a sense of belonging, regardless of their income,“ Sim says.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May. 13, 2023.  

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