VANCOUVER — It’s not somewhere you’d expect to see a protest over homelessness and housing issues.
Dozens of people gathered in West Vancouver today in the affluent British Properties in front of the home of Steven Lippman – who owns a number of single room occupancy hotels in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, through his real estate company Living Balance.
“Living Balance buys up SROs in the Downtown Eastside and then flips the buildings. So he does minor renovations on the buildings and then ups the rent a couple hundred dollars to people who can afford to pay more than the welfare/shelter rate, that usually means students and other people who have middle incomes or the lower end of middle incomes and it displaces people who are low income,” Natalie Knight of the Social Alliance, told Global News.
This isn’t the first time groups rallied against Living Balance. Lippman and his company have been the target of anti-gentrification activists in the past. Lippman was out of town and not able to get back to Global News, but he’s formerly denied accusations that Living Balance is evicting people from their properties.
In 2012, he gave Global News the following statement: “Don’t forget we’re not evicting anybody. To be candid, when we go in and clean them up and put a caretaker in and actually put some lights in the building, some of the truly undesirable characters do tend to move on because they don’t want us to shine lights in any of the corners.”
The group also spoke out against rent subsidies for seniors and low income families, arguing the people who need them the most are ineligible to receive them and that they’re essentially a windfall for developers who can raise rents to take advantage of the supplements.
–With files from Grace Ke.