Pivot Complains To UN About Van Single Room Occupancy

Pivot Legal Society, together with the Carnegie Community Action Project and the Impact of the Olympics on Community Coalition launched a complaint to the United Nations this week on the living conditions faced by residents in Vancouver’s Single Room Occupancy buildings.

“We’re concerned about the 4,000 people living in privately owned residential hotels and rooming houses in Vancouver,” said David Eby of Pivot Legal Society. “They are being illegally evicted, they live in terrible conditions, and they are afraid to speak up because they need that housing.”
The complaint was the brainchild of a University of British Columbia professor named Michael Byers, who was guiding a group of students through a project about Vancouver’s low-income housing situation. The students then partnered with Pivot Legal Society and the other NGOs and the complaint moved forward at a rapid pace.

“The complaint process takes two years,” said Eby, “Our hope was that it would be in its final stages of resolution at about the time of the 2010 Olympics. We want real international pressure on our governments to respect the human rights of those who live in the Downtown Eastside.”
The complaint sets out eight grounds of particular concern about the residents of the Downtown Eastside rooming houses and SROs, alleging that Canada has breached their requirements under the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights to ensure that everyone has adequate housing.

The complaint allegations are that Canada, which includes the provincial and municipal government levels, has among other things: failed to ensure minimum levels of health and safety in low-income rental housing; failed to enforce protections to prevent conversions of low-income housing to other uses; failed to provide police protection to illegally evicted tenants; failed to ensure social assistance rates permit rental of adequate accommodation; and failed to involve the inner city community in the redevelopment of the DTES.

The complaint itself is available on the website: www.noplacelikehomevancouver.org

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