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Mass Eviction at 506 W 7th

Embattled Tenants Call for the City and Province to Stop the Demolition of Their Homes

by Social Housing Alliance

Herb Varley with Social Housing Alliance
Herb Varley with Social Housing Alliance
DJ Larkin and Mike Burke
DJ Larkin and Mike Burke
Mike Burke, resident of 506 W 7th
Mike Burke, resident of 506 W 7th
Mike Burke, resident of 506 W 7th
Mike Burke, resident of 506 W 7th
Mike Burke, resident of 506 W 7th
Mike Burke, resident of 506 W 7th
Mike Burke, resident of 506 W 7th
Mike Burke, resident of 506 W 7th
Herb Varley and Ivan Drury
Herb Varley and Ivan Drury
DJ Larkin (PIVOT) and Ivan Drury
DJ Larkin (PIVOT) and Ivan Drury
Ivan Drury with Social Housing Alliance
Ivan Drury with Social Housing Alliance
DJ Larkin and Mike Burke
DJ Larkin and Mike Burke
Advocates for Social Housing
Advocates for Social Housing
Social housing now!
Social housing now!
Social housing now!
Social housing now!

Also posted by nataliek:

February 13, 2014

VANCOUVER, UNCEDED COAST SALISH TERRITORY: On Thursday February 13th, residents and advocates gathered outside a 100 year old walk-up just blocks away from City Hall. At a news conference they called for the City and Province's support to stop the eviction of the remaining residents of 506 West 7th, and block the demolition of 18 long-time low-income rooms from the city's rental stock.

In December, Peter Robinson, the owner of the building known for hosting the now-closed Cambie Café, issued eviction notices to all 18 tenants of the building that many of them called home for 15 to 20 years. The eviction notices claimed that he intended to demolish the building and build, in its place, corporate offices. He ordered them out by February 1st. By the end of January, 10 out of 18 tenants had left; some to more expensive apartments, and some to friend’s couches and other homeless situations.

Mike Burke, a 6 year resident of the building facing demolition, said, "Our issue is with the government letting a businessman tear down housing for elderly and disabled people and throwing them in the street. The people who live in this building have low incomes and we're being told to move out from the rooms we can afford, which we have lived in for years, into a city that we can't afford. Our rents are going to double while our incomes stay the same!"

Social Housing Alliance organizer Ivan Drury, who supported most remaining tenants to file an eviction dispute with the Residential Tenancy Branch, explained the legal fight against the eviction. "The eviction and planned demolition of 506 West 7th was not only unjust and immoral, throwing a group of mostly senior residents out in the street in the middle of winter, it is illegal," he said. "The premise of the eviction is bad faith because there is no evidence that Robinson actually plans to demolish the building as he claims. Not only has he not received a demolition or development permit from City Hall, he has not even applied for them."

If Robinson does go ahead with the demolition, then the Social Housing Alliance is calling on City Hall to enforce their moratorium on rental housing conversions, which is supposed to protect against exactly these sort of losses of precious rental stock in the midst of a housing crisis. The Alliance's speaker, Herb Varley challenged the Vision dominated city council to save the 18 units of rental housing at 506 West 7th by stopping Robinson's demolition plans.

Varley, a Nisga'a and Nuu-chah-nulth member of the Social Housing Alliance said, "Vision Vancouver's City Hall regularly turns a blind eye to low-income affordable SRO hotels being lost to rent increases by gentrification. Council says there's nothing they can do to stop upscaling because the use of the rooms is not changing and the units are not being destroyed. Well, these apartments are going to be destroyed and the use is going to change from rooms people live in to offices people work in. What are they going to do to save these rooms?"

Pivot Legal Society lawyer DJ Larkin also directed blame at the Province, and particularly the loopholes and false promises of the Residential Tenancy Branch (RTB). “The tenancy system in this province has failed marginalized renters and the result is people being pushed into homelessness," Larkin said. "The Residential Tenancy Branch system is designed to let illegal evictions like these happen. The RTB does nothing to step in to stop illegal mass evictions and has no way of tracking when a landlord repeatedly and seriously breaches tenants’ rights."

Residents and advocates gathered outside 506 West 7th closed the news conference reiterating the calls for the city to stop the demolition of this and all low-income rental housing in Vancouver, for the province to revolutionize the Residential Tenancy Branch system to defend tenants most vulnerable to eviction, and for all three levels of government to build the social housing needed to end homelessness and precarious housing.

 

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