The majority of Victoria residents are renters.
The housing crisis, with low vacancy rates and high rents, is punishing renters and forcing many out of the City.
For these renters, this is anything from a major personal loss to a crisis that could lead to homelessness. It hurts others too. Families are seeing their adult children moving away to find affordable housing. Businesses, charities, government services, and other employers are short of staff because of the housing market and have had to reduce operations.
What can governments do to protect renters?
For starters, the BC government can bring in legislation allowing Victoria and other municipalities to extend tenant assistance policies. These policies can include relocation support, a right of first refusal on new units, and much more. However, they are restricted to cases where re-zoning is required. The government could expand this to cover rebuilding done under permits, not just those that require re-zoning.
Victoria and other municipal governments can get serious about allowing more housing to be built, and more diversity in housing types. The era of affordable single-family homes is long gone. If we want more affordability, we are going to need to allow more housing and more housing types to be built.
There are many other types of protections for renters. Some are in a background discussion paper I wrote to help inform a series of conversations in Victoria – among community members, developers, government representatives and others. These conversations are of course continuing, and we need your ideas on how to protect renters. Feel free to check it the background paper: D. Thompson, Zoning, Renovictions, Demovictions, and Tenant Protections – a Community Discussion.