VANCOUVER — You won’t be finding ratings for these hotels on Trip Advisor. The single room occupancy hotels of the Downtown Eastside are notorious for their poor living conditions. But for residents, housing options are so limited they say they often have no choice.
Today marked the first SRO hotel tenants’ convention where occupants awarded the Balmoral Hotel with the distinction of “crummy cockroach haven.”
At the convention, approximately 100 people attended workshops on bed bug science, legal advocacy and tenants’ rights. Many say they’ve experienced insects invading their living space, mice coming through the pipes and other deplorable conditions. Those camping at Oppenheimer Park – who were recently ordered to leave by court order — renewed focus on these issues.
Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson says he continues to push an end to homelessness by 2015. He says Vision Vancouver has turned their attention to slumlords and made significant improvements while in office. But critics say the worst three SROs are all owned by the same family, the Sahotas and question how serious the municipal and provincial governments can be if they allow the family to continue in the business.
–With files from Elaine Yong.