A report from BC ACORN entitled Stand Up For Surrey Housing, which the organization plans to release to the public during a press conference on Thursday, contains a raft of recommendations how the City of Surrey can “ease” the city’s housing crisis.
ACORN’s 13-page report, the subject of a press conference set for Surrey Civic Plaza at 11 a.m. Aug. 6, contains some dire information. Affordable housing in Surrey, it says, has eroded in the last decade. While household incomes increased only by 29 per cent between 2006 and 2016, it notes, rents increased by 48 per cent as home values increased by “an unreachable” 70 per cent.
Some 37 per cent of Surrey residents spend more than 30 per cent of their income on rent, leaving them particularly vulnerable.
“They have a lot of issues around housing,” Bertha Edward, an organizer for BC ACORN told the Now-Leader. “There are members who are mostly tenants, and they are mostly lower income, they’ve been complaining about a lot of things including high rent, including landlords treating them unfairly, meaning they are just raising the rent. They have lack of maintenance and repairs, they have a lot of issues.”
BC ACORN is this province’s chapter of a 130,000-member national organization that advocates for social and economic justice for lower-income and moderate-income citizens.
During a public hearing in June, Surrey resident Dave Diewert, of Red Braid Alliance for Decolonial Socialism, charged that there is a “war on the poor here in Surrey.
“Whalley is home to hundreds upon hundreds of homeless and low-income residents who are in desperate need of dignified housing, that is welfare rate or the rate of old-age pensions, adequate to meet their needs, secure from immanent displacement and resident control,” Diewert told council.
BC ACORN’s report calls on Surrey to improve standards of maintenance bylaws, implement a renoviction bylaw and a landlord licensing system that would ensure buildings remain in good condition, and “implement a rental replacement law that gives tenants a unit they can afford in their neighbourhood and stops the mass displacement of tenants through demoviction.”
It also calls on Surrey to implement a rent stabilization policy, similar to Burnaby’s, to ensure tenants are not displaced from their communities.