Edmonton City Councillor Michael Phair and the Edmonton Social Planning Council today released a report on two renter listening forums held at the Stanley Milner Library on May 23 and 24. The report summarizes the stories and ideas of those attending the forum and makes thirteen recommendations for government action based on the input received.
Over two hundred Edmontonians attended the two evening forums. They were invited to tell their stories to a listening panel made up of Susan Morrissey, Executive Director of the Edmonton Social Planning Council, Don Mayne of the Alberta Quality of Life Commission, and City Councillors Michael Phair and Dave Thiele.
“The renters who responded to our invitation had genuine concerns about their ability to continue putting a roof over their heads,” said Susan Morrissey, whose organization co-sponsored the forums along with Councillor Michael Phair.
“The stories of hardship we heard were truly heart rending but also inspiring,” said Councillor Michael Phair. “We heard not only people’s stories but also their ideas of what can be done to fix what can only be called a rental housing crisis.”
“Restricting rent increases to once a year, without limiting the amount of the increase, is partly to blame for the massive rent hikes many tenants told us they are facing,” Morrissey pointed out.
“We heard story after story from tenants facing rent increases of hundreds of dollars per month while little or nothing is being done to improve their properties,” noted Councillor Phair. “That’s why we are urging the provincial government to reconsider its decision to reject the Affordable Housing Task Force recommendation to introduce a two-year rent stability guideline.”
Other recommendations being forwarded to government include: attaching rent subsidies to the individuals or families needing them, providing tenants with a right of first refusal when units are converted to condos, and helping cover down payments so that home ownership becomes more affordable for those with modest incomes.