Housing advocates concerned about former SRO converted to ‘urban micro living’ units

Click to play video: 'Future of SRO in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside up in the air' Future of SRO in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside up in the air
WATCH: A former single room occupancy (SRO) complex in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside is offering rooms for rent, but it may not end up happening as planned. Tanya Beja explains what the building's owners did when Global News started asking questions – Mar 22, 2016

The sink and bed are included but that’s about it.

A former Downtown Eastside SRO is offering condo-like rooms for up to $1,100 a month.

The owners of Hip-O say what you’ll find inside the former SRO on Union Street is “urban micro living.” Prospective tenants get a bed and a desk but have to share other amenities like washrooms and kitchens.

Maria Wallstam of the Carnegie Community Action Project (CCAP) is not impressed.

“Landlords are just trying to capitalize on it and squeeze out all the rent they can from tenants,” she said.

Hundreds of SRO rooms will be lost to gentrification: report

In 2015, the city struck a deal with the building’s owners, letting them off the hook for more than $200,000 in conversion fees, as long as they kept the rent in the former SRO affordable. With units priced between $795 to $1,095 per month, neighbours say they’re anything but.

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Hip-O’s owners say the space offers a “balance of personal space and communal living.” But what they don’t advertise is that eight of the 12 units were supposed to be for people on social assistance with at least two rooms guaranteed at $375 a month.

“We think the city should be not only investigating, but tightening up their laws so that they actually can prevent this kind of thing from happening,” CCAP’s Jean Swanson said.

The Edmonton-based company that owns the building did not return calls to Global News. But once Global started investigating, they pulled down their posters and changed their website, reducing the number of units available.

The city said it’s monitoring the situation and will help the owners find appropriate tenants.

– With files from Tanya Beja

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