BC Housing has gone forward with their decision to sell Stamps Place. This large housing complex is located between East Hastings, Union Street, Raymur and Campbell Avenue. The sale of public housing is of great concern, as is the future of the community at Stamps Place. This sale may set a precedent for the off-loading of other BC Housing projects.
For the record, we’ve reproduced a press release from the Stamps Place Tenants Council below.
Vancouver BC August 14th 2015
BC Housing Sells Stamps Place
New Chelsea Housing Chosen to Buy Valuable Property
On August 12th, after months of uncertainty, residents of the Stamps Place Housing Complex were informed by BC Housing that our homes are being sold to the New Chelsea Society.
Despite repeated requests to BC Housing that residents be involved in any decisions about the future for our homes, our requests were completely ignored and we had no say about whether or how this sale would proceed.
We are somewhat heartened by the choice of New Chelsea Society as they have deep experience in providing housing for seniors and families. We will be reaching out to them immediately to determine how we can work together going forward. We are hopeful of establishing a proactive partnership.
Nonetheless, we believe the timing of this announcement is premature, as there are a number of issues that remain outstanding:
- The BC Auditor General is investigating the government’s decision to sell off a massive number of social housing properties. As the outcome of this investigation may potentially affect the Stamps sale, we believe this sale should be put on hold until the completion of the investigation.
- A resident’s complaint has been filed with the BC Privacy Commissioner raising concerns that BC Housing is proposing to hand over personal family information to the new nonprofit owner without specific consent from the resident. The resident is particularly concerned about information regarding the children, as private organizations do not offer the same level of security and privacy guarantees as do government agencies.
- The Tenants Council has filed a complaint with the Ombudsperson’s Office re lack of fair process, specifically due to the constricted time available for any group to respond to the proposed sale, and to the fact that BC Housing accepted Atira Housing as one of the possible purchasers, despite the direct conflict of interest involved due to the marriage between the CEOs of BC Housing and Atira. While the announced sale precludes any further involvement by Atira, the initial issues raised related to fair process remain.
We are also concerned that the only way to guarantee that the Stamps Place complex, and other BC Housing owned properties, will remain affordable is to ensure that the land remains in public ownership. We have written to the City of Vancouver to request that they purchase the land from BC Housing and establish it as a permanent land trust. We continue to believe that adopting a land trust model would be more effective in protecting affordable housing than selling public land to private non-profits.
It may be too late for us to alter the fate of Stamps Place. Nonetheless the issues we have raised – and will continue to raise – are important, as many more BC Housing complexes are slated to be sold off.
We want to thank everyone who has supported us in our efforts to protect our homes and families. Maintaining affordable housing is an important issue for us all. We will keep you informed as the changes at Stamps Place unfold.
For more information contact:
Guy Wakeman, President, Stamps Place Tenants Council, stampsplacecouncil [at] hotmail.com