KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) – Just this week I had a meeting with MLA Lisa Roberts. We talked about the need for rent control. This need was the burning issue on her mind when I met with her.
First however, Lisa told me how happy she is to see all the stories I write in the Nova Scotia Advocate. She calls my stories a real eye opener when it comes to educating the general public on poverty-related issues in Nova Scotia.
Lisa Roberts says that in her district, Halifax Needham, she is very grateful for the affordable housing stock that’s there, which includes everything from housing co-ops, through to public and non profit housing. Lisa feels that without that legacy of affordable housing we would not have the diverse and vibrant community that residents of Halifax/Needham live in today.
However over the years new condos and apartments have been built in the area. Housing is getting very expensive, with rents often starting at $1100 and up.
See also: News brief: Rent poor in Nova Scotia
Lately her constituency office has been getting more and more calls from people who cannot afford to pay their rent.
Lisa has said lately her office has heard from people who are income assistance recipients, working poor and even some unionized workers who are paying at least 50% of their income on rent.
Even many seniors in Halifax Needham are more and more having problems with being able to afford rent. The fact that persons with disabilities of all ages as well as seniors are not able to afford rent is sad.
It is very expensive, almost impossible, for a non-profit to build new affordable housing. And there hasn’t been enough government investment.
So Lisa thinks we really need rent control. We also need immediate regulation of short term rentals like Airbnb.
The Nova Scotia NDP is proposing changes to deal with Airbnb, so that these short term rentals don’t take homes away from residents.
They are also starting a petition to call for rent control, meaning landlords can’t just raise rents so much that tenants have to move.
“With vacancy rates as low as 1.6 per cent, landlords are in a position to endlessly raise rents,” the petition states. “People are regularly reporting rent increases in the hundreds of dollars, forcing them from their homes so their landlord can turn the unit into a short-term rental or find a tenant who can pay more.”
Kendall Worth is an award-winning anti-poverty activist who lives with disabilities and tries to make ends meet on income assistance.
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