Victoria club statement on Housing demands

Sept. 19, 2022

The Scotty Neish Club of the Communist Party of Canada condemns the ongoing failures of local governments within the Capital Region District to protect the right to housing. Instead of providing housing for all, the local governments consistently avoid taking responsibility and instead choose to confront the unhoused with violence. Local government representatives claim their approach is compassionate, but instead send in the police to enforce displacement and dismantle encampments. Offering the unhoused an outdated list of shelters that are mostly full and have restrictive barriers to entry does not constitute a compassionate approach.

The Scotty Neish Club of the Communist Party of Canada also condemns the ongoing failures of the local governments within the Capital Region District to address the skyrocketing cost of housing. The CRD region regularly sees some of the highest rental rate increases in the nation, most notably this July which saw an increase of 27% from July 2021. The local governments of the region have not only failed to take action to combat profiteering and rent gouging, they often work to expedite profits for developers. Higher profits for developers do not result in lower rents or housing prices, yet that is the premise that guides the regional governments. The existing and proposed “affordable” housing options and developments currently on offer are a belated first step, but are not, by themselves, enough to replace the units we are losing. Many older properties are being bought up by real estate investment trusts and institutional investors, thereby driving up prices for everyone. We are losing affordability faster than we are replacing it.

To be clear, there would be enough money to address many of Victoria’s critical social needs, such as housing, if tax reforms granted by the Campbell era BC Liberals were reversed immediately by the provincial government. Campbell’s failed policy adventure amounted to a wealth transfer from the working class to corporations and the wealthy. These destructive policies cost the provincial treasury billions every year, enough to massively expand low-income housing and raise spending on health, education, and other vital social programs. We also call for a 75% cut in military spending, and a reallocation of these funds to further strengthen these same social programs. We call for fundamental social and economic change, benefitting working people – for a people’s recovery from capitalist crisis

We demand a People’s Housing Plan:

  • Put a moratorium on the displacement of the unhoused and dismantling of encampments until safe and secure long-term options are made available in high-quality public housing developments
  • Increase funding for crisis centres and transitional housing targeted to women, Indigenous and racialized people to decrease the amount of time it takes to reach permanent housing
  • Create a public developer under CRD management with a mandate to build non-market affordable rental units and task it with building 3500 high-quality public housing units across the region, including the Gulf Islands within 5 years
  • Immediately expropriate perpetually derelict and vacant buildings from negligent and absentee landlords into democratically-controlled public housing
  • Demand provincial support for vacancy control to cover all rental units
  • Demand that the provincial government extend the RTA to protect students living on campus and build free, high-quality housing for all students
  • Build temporary intake and drop-in shelters for the unhoused to receive hot meals, showers and laundry facilities, clothing and supplies, counseling, and connections to health care
  • Approve, fund, and build more temporary home villages wherever there is demand to end rough sleeping and tent sleeping, modeled after the Caledonia Tiny Homes Village
  • Demand that the provincial government recognize the right of tenants to collectively organize tenant unions and collectively bargain with landlords
  • Fund housing initiatives for Indigenous families with social supports
  • Create a rental tenant engagement division within CRD, to hear the complaints of the region’s rental tenants, to keep people housed by preventing evictions and offering emergency rent funding, and to oversee relocation for growing families and seniors
  • Create a set of region-wide neighbourhood liveability by-laws that include basic maintenance and regular inspections for all rental housing, that are enforceable by stiff penalties and fines up to and including expropriation
  • Demand provincial action on combating the financialization of the housing market by preventing real estate investment trusts and institutional investors from buying up more property and by prioritizing expropriation of properties currently owned by investment trusts
  • Amend municipal bylaws to allow for houseplexes and corner townhouses in existing single-family zoning, provided new units are publicly developed and controlled
  • Demand provincial support for a moratorium on all above-guideline rent increases and evictions, including renoviction, through this election cycle
  • Establish municipal land banks to acquire land for affordable social housing, schools, hospitals, parks and public works; and to prevent developers from profiteering by gobbling up valuable public land to inflate housing prices and rents
  • Demand that the province roll back rents for all rental units to ensure no one has to pay more than 20% of their income for housing

Communist Party of Canada
Scotty Neish (Victoria) Club