Pushed Out – CCAP’s new report on hotels in the DTES

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For immediate release
September 21, 2010

Pushed out of the Downtown Eastside by high rents

A new study by the Carnegie Community Action Project (CCAP) says that seniors on basic pensions and people on welfare can only afford 12% of the privately owned SRO hotel rooms in the Downtown Eastside (down from 29% last year).

Called Pushed Out, escalating rents in the Downtown Eastside, CCAP’s third annual hotel report says high rents in privately owned hotels are pushing out low-income people and could be responsible for an increase in homelessness and for a lot of street vending and survival so-called “crimes.”

The report is based on a survey of 90 privately owned and run hotels by CCAP staff and volunteers who got information from hotels with 93% of the privately owned rooms in the Downtown Eastside.

“Gentrification is pushing up rents in the cheapest accommodation in Vancouver,” said CCAP organizer and report co-author Wendy Pedersen. “The number of hotel rooms where the lowest rent is $500 a month or more shot up over 200% from 272 rooms last year to 634 rooms this year. And more than half of all the privately owned rooms rent for
over $425 a month, $50 more than a person on welfare, disability, or senior can afford.”

Newly opened provincially owned hotels plus new low-income housing at Woodwards doesn’t make up for the number of units lost from closure and high rents.

While some new social housing units should be opening in the next three years, “At the current rate it will take the city 42 years to implement their policy of replacing the SRO hotel rooms with self contained social housing,” said Pedersen. “But absolutely nothing is planned for after 2013 so it could take much longer.”

CCAP calls on the city to buy and set aside five lots a year in the DTES for social housing. CCAP joins with numerous other groups calling for a federal provincial social housing program that builds 20,000 units of housing a year across Canada.

Other findings of the report include:
• The number of hotels that rent all their rooms for $375 or less fell from 19 hotels with 777 rooms in 2009 to 12 hotels with 362 rooms in 2010, a loss of seven hotels with 415 rooms;
• The lowest rent in over half (56%) of the hotels that CCAP got rent information from is $425 a month or more. In other words, 28 hotels with 1689 rooms rent at $425 or more;
• Rents in 17 of these 28 hotels with 1159 rooms start at $450 or more;
• Between 2009 and 2010 the number of hotels where the lowest rent is $500 or more increased by over 200% from 3 hotels with 272 rooms to 11 hotels with 634 rooms;
• There were only two vacancies in hotels with rents at or under $375. Last year there were four;
• Fifteen hotels charging higher rents had vacancies;
• Two hotels with 67 rooms have closed since CCAP’s 2009 report. These are the Argyle (43 rooms) and Lucky Rooms (24 rooms).
• Two SROs re-opened this year, the Persepolis (27 rooms) at $400 a month and Pender Place (23 units) at $600 to $700 a month;

See all CCAP’s reports at: www.ccapvancouver.wordpress.com/ccap-reports/