Legislated Inequality Perpetuates Housing Crisis

By: 

Yuka Kurokawa

Landlords just got a raise! The annual allowable rent increase for 2016, as set by the Residential Tenancy Branch, is 2.9%, effectively shaving off most of the gains made by low income workers, who received a pitiful 20 cent raise in the minimum wage in the same month. The impact of the rent increase will be even worse for Victoria’s urban poor who depend on income assistance rates that have remained frozen since 2007. This, in a city and province that are desperately wrestling with housing affordability.

A renter in a one-bedroom apartment in Victoria that rents for $833 can, come January, face an increase to $857, or $24 above what they are currently paying. With the raise in minimum wage, a minimum wage worker who was employed full time saw their income rise by $28, before taxes and other payroll deductions.

After giving an extra $24 to the landlord they are left with a pittance of a pittance. If we are going to do something to address poverty and the consequent housing affordability crisis, we need real rent protection, including a freeze on rental increases to allow for the necessary corrections to take place.

Landlords are not struggling to make ends meet, the working poor and those dependent on government supports are, and the gap between these groups grows each year with every new annual rental increase announcement.

At TAPS we urge decision makers to immediately increase the minimum wage to $15, increase the welfare shelter rate to at least market rent levels while freezing the annual rental increase. Anything short would be the continuation of legislated inequality.