No tenant in B.C. will lose their apartment due to the novel coronavirus crisis, Premier John Horgan told reporters on Monday, saying details about a plan are coming later in the week.
Horgan and Finance Minister Carole James announced a sweeping $5-billion aid package to help British Columbians through the COVID-19 pandemic.
Some of that funding includes support for people unable to work, and thus, struggling to pay rent.
The government is looking at a range of options to help renters, said James, including expanding the Rental Assistance Program, which provides support for the working poor, and the Shelter Aid For Elderly Renters program.
James said she has been encouraged by stories of landlords, like Vancouver developer PortLiving, who have paused evictions if tenants are unable to work during the pandemic, and she hopes others will follow suit.
The province is expected to announce details Wednesday to prevent tenants from being evicted due to circumstances related to COVID-19, but Horgan said the door was open for evictions that have nothing to do with the pandemic.
The Vancouver Tenants Union took issue with that exception, saying allowing any evictions during a pandemic, regardless of their cause, puts public health at risk.
“Relying on landlords’ good faith to not evict tenants is a complete abdication of government responsibility,” Mazdak Gharibnavaz, a member of the union’s steering committee, said on Monday.
“Many tenants we talked to are being evicted due to renoviction or landlord use and this announcement does nothing for them.”
Many jurisdictions across North America have implemented a blanket ban on evictions, he added.
Last week, BC Housing put in place a temporary moratorium on evictions of tenants in subsidized and affordable housing.
David Hutniak, CEO of Landlord BC, said he awaits more details as well, and adds that the rental sector consists of many “small mom and pop” operations that also need support.
LandlordBC has advocated for renter supports by way of a rent bank, Hutniak said.
“We cannot allow the rental housing ecosystem to collapse.”View link »