31 July 2015

BC Housing Neglecting Stamps Residents

Vancouver BC July 29th 2015

On October 3rd 2014, residents of the Stamps Place Housing Complex were informed the BC Housing was immediately putting our housing up for sale to a private nonprofit. Despite repeated requests to BC Housing that tenants be involved in any decisions about the future for our homes, our requests have been ignored. To date, no decision has been announced but BC Housing maintains that the land sale will go forward as planned and that a decision will be announced in due course. We have received this information not directly from BC Housing, which has never responded to us, but through second-hand reports.

In the interim, a number of substantive issues have arisen which must be addressed before BC Housing proceeds with the Stamps sale:
  • The Tenants Council has filed a complaint with the Ombudspersons Office re lack of fair process, specifically due to the constricted time available for any group to respond to the proposed sale, and to the fact that BC Housing has accepted Atira Housing as one of the possible purchasers, despite the direct conflict of interest involved due to the marriage between the CEOs of BC Housing and Atira.
  • The BC Auditor General is investigating the governments property sell-off. As the Stamps property sale will be potentially affected by the result of that investigation, no sale should go forward until the completion of that investigation.
  • A residents complaint has been filed with the BC Privacy Commissioner raising concerns that BC Housing is proposing to hand over personal family information to the to-be-chosen nonprofit without specific consent from the resident. The resident is particularly concerned about information regarding the children, as private organizations do not offer the same level of security and privacy guarantees as do government agencies.

We are also upset because BC Housing has clearly lost interest in supporting the Stamps tenants, and our complex is suffering as a result. Most staff have been transferred out and we now have only two staff members covering a complex of 375 suites. There are no staff on site overnight, although we live in the most dangerous neighbourhood in Vancouver and far more people are outside in the evening during the summer.

BC Housing has virtually stopped responding to maintenance calls. They had implemented a very effective bug busting program here some months ago, but have now removed all the equipment, and residents are once again having to cope with pests and bug bites. Despite the shortage of affordable housing in the city, a number of suites in Stamps now sit empty. We can only speculate on the reason, although suspect that BC Housing simply doesnt want to pay for the necessary refurbishment.

No matter what BC Housings plans, they have responsibilities to our residents until they formally transfer ownership. Their current lack of care is completely unacceptable.

Many of us are feeling increasingly trapped by our circumstances. Vancouver is clearly facing a crisis in housing affordability. Should any new owner of the complex raise our rents or prove to be a poor housing manager, too many of us may end up facing homelessness or find our children subjected to poor housing. The security we have so valued with BC Housing will disappear. Once the complex is under private ownership, many of our current protections will be lost.

We firmly believe that the only way to guarantee that the Stamps Place complex will remain affordable is to ensure that the land remains in public ownership. Therefore we have now written to the City of Vancouver to request that they purchase the land from BC Housing and establish it as a permanent land trust. Securing the Stamps Place land for the future will fit well with the Citys aspirations to support housing for seniors and families. We are hopeful that the City will work with us

Stamps Place is too valuable to lose. We once again plead with BC Housing and the Provincial Government to reconsider and to work with us and with the City to protect our homes.

For more information contact:
Guy Wakeman, President, Stamps Place Tenants Council, 778-231-1729

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