Clifton Hotel motion – Stop Gentrifying SROs (December 17, 2014)

Granville StreetAs a public service announcement, we have reproduced the details about a motion regarding the Clifton Hotel. The Clifton Hotel is a Single Room Occupancy (SRO) hotel in need of significant repairs.

A motion on notice is on the Council meeting agenda for Tuesday, December 16th (motion by Adriane Carr, seconded by Melissa De Genova). Speakers to the motion will be heard on Wednesday, December 17th. The full motion in its original form is available here. The Carnegie Community Action Project (CCAP) sent out the following notice:

WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 17th: STOP GENTRIFYING SROS!

>>> Speak at City Hall! Support a motion to keep the Clifton Hotel for low-income people! <<<

On December 16th, City Council will consider whether to hear speakers on a motion put forward by Councillor Adriane Carr to protect the Clifton SRO as low income housing. If Council agrees, they will hear speakers on Wednesday, December 17th. Sign up to speak at the meeting, or come to show your support!

Email: nicole.ludwig@vancouver.ca
Phone: 604.873.7191

CarnegieBus tickets provided to those who need them. Meet at the Carnegie at 9:00 am (on Wednesday, December 17th, confirmed) to travel together.  Please keep in touch by looking at our Facebook page, webpage or calling the numbers below to find out whether Council will hear speakers!

About the Clifton Hotel

The Clifton Hotel on Granville Street is a perfect example of what happens when the City doesn’t enforce the Standards of Maintenance Bylaw. Most of the Clifton’s residents are poor and were paying around $450 in rent. The Clifton’s owners have run the hotel into the ground (for a photo tour, click here). The City finally issued work orders, but the landlord is now saying that massive structural repairs are needed. We’ve been working on the Clifton case since last year, and it’s clear that this is a deliberate tactic to empty the building of poor people, renovate the rooms and jack up the rents.

About the motion at City Hall

City Councillor Adriane Carr has put forward a motion at city council to preserve the Clifton Hotel on Granville St. as housing for low income people. Specifically, the motion calls on city council to:

“inform the owner of the Clifton Hotel that the City will consider current renovation plans as conversions and require $15,000/room or welfare rate rental rates after renovations in lieu of the $15,000”; and “to work with the owner to find a non-profit operator and a subsidy so the rooms can remain available to people on welfare, disability and basic pension.”

The motion will be dealt with on December 17th at City Hall [Note: the Council majority did agree to hear from speakers at the meeting on December 16th, a usual procedure; the motion was amended]

We need people to come to city council and speak in favour of the motion to put some pressure on council to start saving SROs like the Clifton that are being gentrified. The manager told us that the owner wants to rent out the renovated rooms for $900 a month to “International students”.

Why we need to preserve SROs

SROs are crummy places to live and no one wants to have to live in them, but they are the last resort for thousands of people before homelessness. This year Vancouver had the highest homeless count ever. No new government funded social housing has been announced since 2007. Gentrifying owners are buying up hotels, evicting low income residents, renovating slightly, and then renting rooms out for $700 and up. Unless something is done to get new social housing and stop the eviction of SRO residents, homelessness will go up again next year.

Issue at Council

If you read the motion at the end of the email, you can make many of the points explained in the “whereas’s” sections.

The crux of the motion is that in the City’s Single Room Accommodations (SRA) bylaw, Section E of the definition of “conversion”, allows the city to charge up to $15,000 per unit to landlords who convert their building.  For years the City has been saying that simply renovating a building is not a “conversion.”  We are asking the City to look carefully at section E of the definition, which says if renovations have a “material effect on the enjoyment by permanent residents of their living accommodation” they are a conversion.

Obviously, if the Clifton’s owners renovate the building and can then increase rents from the $400 range to $900, they are having a material effect on the enjoyment by permanent residents of their living accommodation.”  Right now the Clifton is is deplorable shape:  Filthy, smelly, and needing fire and electrical upgrades, painting, cleaning, and much more.  A major renovation would have a material effect on enjoyment by permanent residents  who have been suffering for years under current management.

For further information, please see this Facebook page.

MOTION (original version)

Protecting SRO Rooms in the Clifton Hotel

MOVER: Councillor Adriane Carr
SECONDER: Councillor Melissa de Genova

WHEREAS

  1. There is a crisis in affordable housing in Vancouver for those at the lowest income levels who receive welfare shelter rate allowance of $375 per month for rent, many of whom live in the Downtown Eastside (DTES);
  2. Vancouver had its highest homeless count ever this year and SROs are the last resort before homelessness;
  3. The supply of housing at the shelter allowance rent—SROs in the DTES and downtown core—has precipitously declined. According to recent unpublished Carnegie Action Project research 78 percent of privately owned DTES hotel rooms rent for $425 and more, with 22 of SRO hotels having rents that are $500 or more and 9 with rents that are $700 or more, exacerbating the homeless crisis;
  4. The Clifton Hotel, an SRO hotel on Granville Street, has been deteriorating for many years due to failure by the landlord to regularly undertake necessary maintenance and cleaning and is currently in major disrepair, despite some work done recently under a Standards of Maintenance order, with tenants living in unsafe, unclean and pest-infested conditions;
  5. Major repairs are now required and proposed by the owner of the Clifton Hotel, resulting in most of the hotel’s 74 rooms being now vacant and many of the residents of the 25 to 27 rooms that are currently occupied at a rent of $425 per month, accepting payment in exchange for ending their tenancy without a right of return upon completion of renovations by the landlord;
  6. Paragraph 1.2(e) of the Single Room Accommodation Bylaw, No. 8733 defines “conversion” as “(e) a repair or alteration to a designated room or any improvement or fixture in it or a replacement of any such improvement or fixture, except for repairs or alterations that are minor in nature and have no material effect on the enjoyment by permanent residents of their living accommodation”;
  7. The proposed renovations will have a material effect on the enjoyment by permanent residents of the Clifton, specifically by ending their tenancies and will allow the landlord to raise the rent by any amount following renovations, materially changing the occupancy of the building; and will allow the landlord to profit from his failure to properly maintain the Clifton by ending the tenancies of long-term tenants.

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED THAT:

  1. The City of Vancouver inform the owner of the Clifton Hotel that the City will consider current renovation plans as conversions and require $15,000/room or welfare rate rental rates after renovations in lieu of the $15,000;
  2. The City work with the owner to find a non-profit operator and a subsidy so the rooms can remain available to people on welfare, disability and basic pension.

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