More problems with Single Rent Occupancy housing in the Downtown Eastside.
There are 178 units and roughly 200 residents of the Balmoral Hotel who say their elevator has been out of service since yesterday morning, and have yet to hear from management about when it’ll be fixed.
David Laing says he’s forced to climb eight flights of stairs when the elevator is out, something he says is a near weekly occurrence.
“I live on the eighth floor, I can’t fly!”
Volunteers are going door to door to see if disabled tenants in the building need help getting out, and say they’ll be calling the fire department if necessary.
They’re also putting together details for a Tuesday meeting to demand compensation from the building’s owners for disruption of services.
Liang says they want action from the landlords.
“You know I feel like we’re being ignored. As long as we pay our money and we don’t make too noise and don’t pee in the lobby, we’re nobody.”
The landlords are Pal and Prakash Sahota, who just last month had the same problem with the Balmoral.
Vancouver city Councillor Geoff Meggs says the Balmoral has long had a troubled relationship with the city, and that officials are doing their best to track and enforce standards and maintenance issues with SROs in the DTES.
But he says in some cases, the buildings themselves are the problem.
“The difficulty is that some of these older buildings, the equipment is so old that if a breakdown occurs it can take a long time to get parts in. And the building itself may be past its useful life … some of them are really beyond saving.”
Meggs says any long term solution needs to involve the province. He says one answer is to bump up the welfare housing allowance from about $325 a month, so that landlords can afford to better maintain the properties.
“The residents of the Balmoral are not able to pay very much rent, and that’s no excuse for low standards, but something has to give at some point. There hasn’t been an increase in that housing allowance for many, many years.”
But Meggs says that solution will only go so far with the area’s housing stock aging as it is. He says the province will need to step in with more money for upgraded or new housing units to truly solve the problem.
With files from Matt Lee and Roshini Nair