Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 100 of 143

Thread: Housing crisis: Rent controls, rally's, tent cities, RV...

  1. #1

    Default Housing crisis: Rent controls, rally's, tent cities, RV...

    Housing crisis upon us

    Sat, April 7, 2007
    By KERRY DIOTTE, Edmonton Sun


    Provincial officials constantly boast of the Alberta Advantage. "Albertans enjoy a very high quality of life," says a spiel on a provincial website that boasts of our low taxes and allegedly high level of services.

    "They have the highest disposable incomes in Canada and the lowest unemployment rate ... Alberta also has ... a strong and vibrant economy and ... affordable living costs."

    We're strong economically but the government has to cut the bull about "affordable living costs" because that's simply no longer true.

    It's scandalous that in a province so wealthy, so many people are being squeezed by soaring rents and an outright lack of accommodations.

    Tara Kuchar's rental horror story is becoming far too typical.

    "We had our rent go from $750 a month last fall to $895 on Dec. 31," says the stay-at-home mother of two girls ages two and seven. "It's going up to $1,125 in June.

    "That's a $375 increase in less than a year. There's no way we'll be able to afford that."

    She lives with her husband and kids in a three-bedroom apartment-style condo in Edmonton's Clareview neighbourhood.

    With her hubby making about $16 an hour, the couple will now have to spend almost 50% of their income for housing.

    Kuchar is now looking for a cheaper rental unit and her husband is seeking a second job to help make ends meet.

    "The owner said the only reason they're doing the rent increase is because they can," says Kuchar. "It's price gouging. People here are outraged."

    A man who wants to be referred to as George is in a similar bind.

    He supports his disabled wife. They pay $790 a month for a two-bedroom unit in a 10-storey building populated by numerous seniors and people on government assistance.

    But the jig is up on that. George just got a notice from the property owners that the entire building is being converted to condos.

    The lucky tenants will be able to purchase condos there for between $159,000 and $195,000 according to real estate documents. If they can't, or won't, they'll have to move.

    Two or three other smaller buildings are also being converted to condos, says George.

    "We might have to move out of town. We're thinking of moving to Saskatchewan where it's affordable," says George, who wouldn't be able to afford a down payment, much less qualify for a mortgage.

    "There are a lot of seniors in this building who've lived here forever and a day. What are they going to do? There's a young fellow down the hall in a wheelchair and he's got no idea what he's going to do."

    A third horror story: Heather Plante is frantic because her NAIT-area apartment's rent is going up from $680 to $925. After a debilitating car crash, the 45-year-old woman has to support an eight-year-old son on less than $1,000 a month in income.

    "I'm not sure where I'll live now," the worried mom told me. "I can barely make ends meet as it is right now, but I guess we'll just have to cut back somehow."

    In tomorrow's column I'll explore a few suggestions and solutions to the accommodation crisis occurring in the land where we boast about the great Alberta Advantage.

    --30--

  2. #2

    Default Accommodating the Advantage

    Accommodating the Advantage
    NDP MLA Ray Martin calls for government-enforced rent increase guidelines


    Sun, April 8, 2007
    By Kerry Diotte, Edmonton Sun


    Albertans might enjoy Canada's highest per-capita incomes in this economic boom, but the housing squeeze in this province is reaching crisis proportions.

    I'm hearing that from real estate agents, politicians and people who have had their monthly rents jacked up by hundreds of dollars and can't find a cheaper place to live.

    None of them seems to have a magic solution but the horror stories are becoming legion and the province that boasts about the Alberta Advantage is getting a black eye nation-wide.

    In yesterday's Sun, I told of a young family facing a total rent increase of $375. They faced a hike in December and one that's coming in June. They'll wind up paying $1,175 for their north-end condo, a full 50% of their take-home pay.

    Another hard-hit tenant is having to move out of a 10-storey building in a poorer area of town that is being converted to condos costing up to $195,000.

    Many seniors and others on fixed incomes will be forced out on the streets because they won't be able to afford to buy their apartments.

    "It's all a very serious problem," says NDP MLA Ray Martin. "I've been getting tons of calls.

    "I've called for government-enforced rent increase guidelines."

    Martin noted there are "guidelines in both Ontario and in British Columbia where the ruling party is as conservative politically as Alberta's Tories."

    In Alberta, landlords are free to raise rents by as much as they want.

    They have to give three months' notice to a month-by-month tenant. After raising the rent for a monthly tenant, it can't be raised again for six months.

    Rents in Ontario can only be raised annually by the rate of inflation.

    In B.C., rents are allowed to rise by inflation plus two per cent, says Martin.

    Martin wants rent hike restrictions as well as a program of tax breaks for people who could build affordable housing.

    "People say if you bring in rent increase guidelines nobody will build affordable housing," says Martin. "Well, they're not building it now either and vacancy rates in several Alberta cities are getting pretty close to zero."

    He's still steamed that the province isn't releasing a report by an affordable housing task force that had a mere 45 days to travel the province, then crank out a report.

    Martin was on that task force along with politicians of other parties. It delivered a report on March 19 but government officials won't release it until they study it thoroughly.

    Landlords are also caught in a financial pinch.

    Realtor Stan Gallant tells of a recent example where a six-suite apartment unit in the Ritchie neighbourhood recently sold for $775,000. Rents currently bring in $46,000 annually.

    But the new owner must pay out $50,000 per year on a mortgage, $3,500 in taxes and utilities and $8,000 in maintenance costs.

    In order to get a small return on his investment the new owner is being forced to increase total annual rents to $77,000.

    "This is causing a lot of owners/buyers to convert rental units to condos and sell them," says Gallant, admitting he feels badly for the tenants who can't afford to buy them.

    Clearly, something has to done to solve this whole accommodation crisis so the Alberta Advantage rings true for all citizens of this wealthy province.

    E-mail [email protected]

    --30--

  3. #3
    C2E Hard Core Contributor
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    City Of Champions
    Posts
    3,854

    Default

    These people complaining about the high rents are probably the same ones who moved multiple times in the 90's when vaccancies where pushing 20% to find the cheapest rent. They took advantage of the market, now it's the landlords turn.

  4. #4
    grish
    Guest

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by LindseyT
    These people complaining about the high rents are probably the same ones who moved multiple times in the 90's when vaccancies where pushing 20% to find the cheapest rent. They took advantage of the market, now it's the landlords turn.
    maybe so, but it is still a problem. the reason they moved was to save money perhaps due to being unemployed (which was very common in the early 90's).

    Some people simply do not have the education or physical ability to find work that would pay enough to be able to rent for over $1000 a month.

    while landlords have the right to make money, there should be some protection for people. In many large cities there is rent control. Perhaps that is the model worth-while being looked at.

  5. #5
    C2E Junkie *
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Edmonton
    Posts
    13,882
    Blog Entries
    1

    Default

    I would have to agree. Adam Smith doesn't always work, nor does it ever work with any predictable timeframe...sometimes the invisible hand needs a wake up slap.
    Tired of being taken advantage of .

  6. #6
    Addicted to C2E
    Mr. Reality Check

    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Location
    Edmonton, Alberta
    Posts
    12,059

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by grish
    Quote Originally Posted by LindseyT
    These people complaining about the high rents are probably the same ones who moved multiple times in the 90's when vaccancies where pushing 20% to find the cheapest rent. They took advantage of the market, now it's the landlords turn.
    maybe so, but it is still a problem. the reason they moved was to save money perhaps due to being unemployed (which was very common in the early 90's).

    Some people simply do not have the education or physical ability to find work that would pay enough to be able to rent for over $1000 a month.

    while landlords have the right to make money, there should be some protection for people. In many large cities there is rent control. Perhaps that is the model worth-while being looked at.
    Please no... they don't work.

    Increase AISH, increase subsidies to those that need them, provide more student grant monies, implement a minimum income level tax rebate - make sure those that need our support get it. You will get no argument from me on those things.

    Just don't expect landlords to provide those subsidies where we aren't prepared to. You forget that a landlord is unable to target or monitor need. Does a student in a rent controlled two bedroom apartment get to keep a subsidized rent long after he graduated? Does someone on medical assistance after assistance is no longer needed? You will set up a black market in rent control units (i.e. Manhattan) that does NOT benefit those that need the additional support. You will just ensure that rental units do not get the repairs and replacements they need and you will in turn eventually turn good housing stock into slums.

    You will create more of the very circumstances you see in the market today - decent rental stock being converted to strata units because it is no longer economical to retain them as rental units. By all means provide those that need additional support because of their circumstances with sufficient means to acquire decent accommodation.


    Sorry RichardS but the biggest "control" on rents is exactly what we have experienced for the past two decades - having sufficient supply in the marketplace for the marketplace to respond. In fact it has kept rents as substantially less than what they "should" have been. You would not try and maintain this in the office market for the "good of the tenants" and it is no different on the residential side - you will NEVER increase supply by imposing marketplace controls and then expecting landlords to participate in that marketplace or add stock to it.

    We do not expect Safeway or Superstore or Walmart to offer "subsidized" food pricing based on "our" circumstances and not theirs. Competition among them provides lower pricing than we would have if we attempted to legislate it. Can you imagine if we tried to enter their marketplace on the same basis - would we allow them to only raise prices on a basket of goods (determined by who?) or allow them to raise prices on cake but not bread?

    We do not have Epcor sell gas and electricity nor Telus provide cell phones based on means. Rent's are no different - we try and ensure everyone has the means to acquire and support a reasonable life style for themselves and their children and we should do exactly that - not try and download it (or pieces of it) where it doesn't belong.

  7. #7
    C2E Hard Core Contributor
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Oliver
    Posts
    3,194

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by kcantor
    Increase AISH, increase subsidies to those that need them, provide more student grant monies, implement a minimum income level tax rebate - make sure those that need our support get it. You will get no argument from me on those things.

    Just don't expect landlords to provide those subsidies where we aren't prepared to. You forget that a landlord is unable to target or monitor need. Does a student in a rent controlled two bedroom apartment get to keep a subsidized rent long after he graduated? Does someone on medical assistance after assistance is no longer needed? You will set up a black market in rent control units (i.e. Manhattan) that does NOT benefit those that need the additional support. You will just ensure that rental units do not get the repairs and replacements they need and you will in turn eventually turn good housing stock into slums.

    You will create more of the very circumstances you see in the market today - decent rental stock being converted to strata units because it is no longer economical to retain them as rental units. By all means provide those that need additional support because of their circumstances with sufficient means to acquire decent accommodation.


    Sorry RichardS but the biggest "control" on rents is exactly what we have experienced for the past two decades - having sufficient supply in the marketplace for the marketplace to respond. In fact it has kept rents as substantially less than what they "should" have been. You would not try and maintain this in the office market for the "good of the tenants" and it is no different on the residential side - you will NEVER increase supply by imposing marketplace controls and then expecting landlords to participate in that marketplace or add stock to it.

    We do not expect Safeway or Superstore or Walmart to offer "subsidized" food pricing based on "our" circumstances and not theirs. Competition among them provides lower pricing than we would have if we attempted to legislate it. Can you imagine if we tried to enter their marketplace on the same basis - would we allow them to only raise prices on a basket of goods (determined by who?) or allow them to raise prices on cake but not bread?

    We do not have Epcor sell gas and electricity nor Telus provide cell phones based on means. Rent's are no different - we try and ensure everyone has the means to acquire and support a reasonable life style for themselves and their children and we should do exactly that - not try and download it (or pieces of it) where it doesn't belong.
    I totally agree Ken. Rent controls lead to just as many horror stories as the invisible hand does. They are effectively a huge tax that specifcially targets rental property owners, and which allows the population at large to offload all responsiblity for affordable housing.

    Direct subsidies are a much more equitable and sustainable way to deal with the fluctuations of the market.

  8. #8
    I'd rather C2E than work!
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Los Angeles; Athens
    Posts
    4,399

    Default

    I'd have to go against Lindsey on this one.

    Yes, there will be people who are just being cheap, but there are also students, young couples, families, etc, that need affordable housing. Note that I didn't say cheap housing...affordable housing.

    However, I do partially agree with Ken. Massive amounts of subsidized housing is not the way to per se. Subsidized housing done right can be a very good thing, but often it is done wrong and leads to the infamous projects of many cities. Several years ago when I was in London the City's museum had a big exhibit on how the City's 'projects' were finally being renovated and turned around.

    We do have a problem, though. I don't for one second believe that rental units are being converted to condos because they are not economical as rental units. That's pure poppycock. The owners of the apartment block simply see an opportunity for a greater amount of money with the current market.

    So, let's return to that example of a student. A single student shouldn't need a subsidized two bedroom apartment. He/she should have a selection of more affordable bachelor or one bedroom options.

    Perhaps the best kind of 'control' would be to have a development have so many suites that are to be sold at a lower price. Lower because they are smaller/less elaborate, not because they are supported with government funds. It would also create a mixed population in a building instead of creating extreme cases of social stratification.

  9. #9
    C2E Hard Core Contributor
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Oliver
    Posts
    3,194

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by MylesC
    I don't for one second believe that rental units are being converted to condos because they are not economical as rental units. That's pure poppycock. The owners of the apartment block simply see an opportunity for a greater amount of money with the current market.
    It might not be uneconomical for the current owners, but what if they sell? Any new owners will be saddled with 2007-sized mortgages, and for it to be economical they will have to increase rents or convert to condos. That's exactly what's described in the Sun article.

    If landlords shouldn't increase rents, convert their buildings into condos, or even sell their buildings to other landlords then who will actually want to be a landlord? And how will they treat the buildings that they're stuck with?

  10. #10
    C2E Junkie *
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Edmonton
    Posts
    13,882
    Blog Entries
    1

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by kcantor
    [
    Please no... they don't work.

    Increase AISH, increase subsidies to those that need them, provide more student grant monies, implement a minimum income level tax rebate - make sure those that need our support get it. You will get no argument from me on those things.

    (...)


    Sorry RichardS but the biggest "control" on rents is exactly what we have experienced for the past two decades - having sufficient supply in the marketplace for the marketplace to respond. (...)

    (...)

    We do not have Epcor sell gas and electricity nor Telus provide cell phones based on means. (...)
    ...but we don't have sufficient supply to date. The previous years were definitely an area of over supply, and yes, I am not the biggest fan of controls, but we are in hyperinflation now, the pendulum has swung completely to the other side. Your arguements make perfect sense in a more controled inflationary market, but here we are rapidly escalating out of the stratosphere. The jump alone is incredible and even has me shaking my head in amazement and just waiting for the son of 1982.

    ...and I would argue the TELUS/EPCOR piece...I live that and you would be AMAZED at what we are "expected" to subsidize. You picked 2 small commodities out of our portfolios in this world....although the CRTC is starting to change this in the telecomms world thankfully.
    Tired of being taken advantage of .

  11. #11
    Addicted to C2E
    Mr. Reality Check

    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Location
    Edmonton, Alberta
    Posts
    12,059

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by RichardS
    ...but we don't have sufficient supply to date. The previous years were definitely an area of over supply...

    ...and I would argue the TELUS/EPCOR piece...I live that and you would be AMAZED at what we are "expected" to subsidize. You picked 2 small commodities out of our portfolios in this world....although the CRTC is starting to change this in the telecomms world thankfully.
    RichardS,

    On the first point, rental markets - whether office or residential - don't typically move any differently than the economy they exist in. When the overall economy is stable they will be stable, when the overall economy takes a sharp "turn" - either up or down - the rental market will follow suite. In a downturn, there is no way to reduce rental inventory so rents will fall quite drastically quite quickly and stay there. In an upturn, they will rise just as drastically and just as quickly because the lead time involved in increasing that same inventory creates additional pressure on rental demand - and rents - in the interim. Those are the very things the market always responds to and it will unless we decide to try and control it. If you do, you are removing the one thing that will increase the inventory - providing enough return on capital to warrant it being put at risk instead of staying vested in bank stocks.

    On the second point, perhaps Telus/Epcor was not the best example or comparable but groceries sure are as they, like a place to live, are an "essential". I know we are not perfect there either or we would not have food banks etc. but that is our fault collectively to fix, not Safeway's or Superstores or IGA or WalMart (although WalMart may be able to afford it but that again should be a different thread).

    As to MylesC's single student not "needing" a subsidized two bedroom apartment, that apartment may have been rented by two - or three or four - students pooling their resources to afford a "market" rent. If you subsequently "control" that rent because "the" renter(s) may not be able to afford to keep up with the market, who benefits and for how long before there is no market anymore? We have added hundreds of student residences over the past few years but once you are no longer a student, you are not entitled to live in one. Are we going to allow a private landlord to evict a tenant just because he/she graduated? If not...

  12. #12

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by kcantor
    On the second point, perhaps Telus/Epcor was not the best example or comparable but groceries sure are as they, like a place to live, are an "essential". I know we are not perfect there either or we would not have food banks etc. but that is our fault collectively to fix, not Safeway's or Superstores or IGA or WalMart (although WalMart may be able to afford it but that again should be a different thread).
    Wheat board, farm subsidies.... any of this ring a bell? :P

  13. #13
    Addicted to C2E
    Mr. Reality Check

    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Location
    Edmonton, Alberta
    Posts
    12,059

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by m0nkyman
    Quote Originally Posted by kcantor
    On the second point, perhaps Telus/Epcor was not the best example or comparable but groceries sure are as they, like a place to live, are an "essential". I know we are not perfect there either or we would not have food banks etc. but that is our fault collectively to fix, not Safeway's or Superstores or IGA or WalMart (although WalMart may be able to afford it but that again should be a different thread).
    Wheat board, farm subsidies.... any of this ring a bell? :P
    hopefully all going the way of the crow's nest rate imagine paying farmers not to plant crops when large parts of the world are still starving. you would think there would be a better way (like paying a premium for those crops instead and using them as "foreign aid" instead of cash that doesn't get where it's supposed to and keeping the cash at work here...).

    having said that, those contols/subsidies were at least imposed/exercised on/for the intended benefactor or recipient - they did not legislate a third party to pay those subsidies from their earnings and restrict their selling prices at the same time (at least not intentionally in the beginning a la crow's nest rates ).

    even then, as to whether these things manage or distort the marketplace over the long term, one need look no further than the maple syrup fiasco (although global warming will ostensibly cure that as there will be no more maple syrup crops to add to the current glut)...

  14. #14
    C2E Junkie *
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Edmonton
    Posts
    13,882
    Blog Entries
    1

    Default

    MMMM, maple syrup...

    OK, rent controls is probably not the best term to use as I re-read my posts. Yes, they do bring up Manhattan-style arguments that do border on ridiculous and do hurt the market more than they help. Just because you could afford the rent at one time does nto mean that you will be able to forever, nor that your costs should not change with the economy. You are a renter after all, and things change.

    I guess I was looking for more of a judicious application of rate hikes should be in place - especially in residential. I am not worried about commercial as that rather quickly takes care of itself, but the delay in market corrections in the residential world seems to be more lengthy. Rates that far far far far exceed the rate of total inflation are akin to price gouging - especially in our undersupplied market. I know that even Ken can cite examples of outright profiteering in the hot real estate markets.
    Tired of being taken advantage of .

  15. #15

    Default Rent crisis bites as Premier urges patience

    Thu, April 12, 2007

    Rent crisis bites
    Premier urges patience as housing review seeks solutions


    By JEREMY LOOME, SUN MEDIA
    Thursday, April 12, 2007

    If you're looking for somewhere affordable to live, please be patient.

    That was the message from Premier Ed Stelmach after opponents demanded in the legislature yesterday that he institute controls to prevent rent gouging.

    The demands came during question period, after New Democrat Leader Brian Mason noted Boardwalk Properties, the province's largest single landlord, stated it won't build any new units in Calgary until average rents reach $1,600 per month; the company also said it won't build any if the province caps rents.

    Boardwalk spokesman Madeleine Baerg told Sun Media rents would likely also have to reach about $1,600 in Edmonton for new apartment construction to be viable.

    "Labour costs and supply costs are similar (in the two cities)," she said.

    Letting landlords set the terms for rents as the province faces a housing crisis is unacceptable, Mason suggested.

    Ben Suetter, president of the Edmonton Apartment Association, a group of landlords, said rent control won't help build any new apartment suites.

    He said rising rents are the result of rising building costs, and said complainers don't understand the principle of return on investment.

    "No one is going to build an apartment building to lose money. Construction costs are so high that they warrant rents upwards of $1,000 and $1,500, it's just the way it is.

    "You don't see people calling for caps on rising home prices, do you?

    "This is simple economics - people will not invest money to build a property that will not be profitable."

    But Mason said lots of people can't afford $1,600 a month for rent and asked the premier to commit to ending "rent gouging."

    Stelmach said a pending report on the housing crisis in Alberta will offer potential solutions and is under review.

    "These are all issues that are under discussion and we will have a plan to accommodate these issues," he said.

    "Some will come forward in the budget and others are working on in partnership with the various municipalities."

    It's an unacceptable delay given that the all-party committee was only given 45 days to develop (the report), said Liberal critic Bruce Miller.

    "Does the minister not recognize that the longer we drag our feet on this, the worse the housing crisis gets?"

    But the government can't rush such an important issue, suggested Municipal Affairs Minister Ray Danyluk.

    "It's so important that what we do and the direction we go in is right, and I want to commend the task force for the work they've done," he said.

    Baerg said rent controls are bad news for both landlords and tenants.

    Capping rent hikes would create "slum dwellings," she said.

    --30--

  16. #16

    Default

    It is waaaaay past time that the cities promise property tax holidays to anyone who builds rental properties, and then blackmails the province into footing the bill. We need to subsidize market rate rental homes, and we need to do it yesterday.

    And my size 12 is getting fitted for boots specially designed to kick people who advocate caps.

  17. #17
    C2E Hard Core Contributor
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    City Of Champions
    Posts
    3,854

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by MylesC
    I'd have to go against Lindsey on this one.

    .
    Wasn't meant to be a blanket statement. Most of what KCantor said is fair.



    But....

    Do we really need to significantly increase the number of rental units? Is it in our ("our" being those that live in and around Edmonton) best interest to make it easier for those from out of the province to come in, invest nothing while trying to build a small fortune so they can go back home?

    Forcing these people to build and buy homes and condo's ensures that our population won't decline X years from now. People can pack up their appartment and leave tommorrow.

    It comes down to this. I want whats best for Edmonton not Saskatchewan, Newfoundland or Nova Scotia. Is that gaining a large number of temporary workers...is that forcing these people to invest a large sum of money wich would slow down growth...or is it somewhere in the middle... I don't know. I'm not sure there have ever been studies done to give guidance on whats right.

  18. #18
    C2E Junkie *
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Edmonton
    Posts
    13,882
    Blog Entries
    1

    Default

    Oh, there are tons of studies, funded by interest group X or Y...the sad part is that most are so polarized that you can't discern the truth or even a middle ground.

    Truth is, the market will dictate a lot of this, but we need to ensure that profiteering is not taking place that will in turn either kill growth or set us up for the uber-bubble a la the dot bomb era.
    Tired of being taken advantage of .

  19. #19
    C2E Hard Core Contributor
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    City Of Champions
    Posts
    3,854

    Default

    Absolutly. Long run growth is what has to be considered.

  20. #20
    I'd rather C2E than work!
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Los Angeles; Athens
    Posts
    4,399

    Default

    But therein you find the rub. In any boom situation a balance must be struck.

    Quote Originally Posted by LindseyT
    Is it in our ("our" being those that live in and around Edmonton) best interest to make it easier for those from out of the province to come in, invest nothing while trying to build a small fortune so they can go back home?
    Are all the people looking for rentals going to come here, make a small fortune, and leave? What about the student (an example that is continually refered to and should be as Edmonton should be encouraging it's educational facilities)? What about the family that is trying to save up for a downpayment?

    Quote Originally Posted by LindseyT
    Forcing these people to build and buy homes and condo's ensures that our population won't decline X years from now. People can pack up their appartment and leave tommorrow.
    Again, you're assuming that people can just magically go to the bank and get a mortgage. While these days it *is* significantly easier to get a mortgage than even 5 years ago, it still isn't a cakewalk for a younger person/couple with little equity or savings. Apartments/rental properties are often a necessary starting point.

    I'd agree with you that we shouldn't cater to the people coming in and zooming out, but at the same time we have to care for those that want to live here, perhaps have even grown up here and want to get on their own to feet. While I don't mean to compare these workers to a tumour, I feel the following gets my point across: do you cut off an arm to treat a cancer?

    This is a complicated situation and making blanket decisions either way won't result in a positive solution.

    So in that regard, Lindsey, I would go with the middle ground you put forward in your closing statement.

  21. #21

    Default Premier to seek housing help

    Premier to seek housing help
    Stelmach says province might need federal assistance to solve critical shortage


    Fri, April 13, 2007
    By JEREMY LOOME, SUN MEDIA


    Alberta might need help from the federal government to solve the housing crisis, Premier Ed Stelmach suggested yesterday.

    Stelmach and Municipal Affairs Minister Ray Danyluk again asked for patience yesterday when the New Democrats called on the government to immediately cap the number of apartments that are being converted into condominiums.

    "We fully discussed the situation in Edmonton and Calgary and there are other communities facing similar (scenarios)," said Stelmach. "We are going to take steps.

    "But, like I said, it's going to take co-operation between the province, municipalities and the federal government to deal with the overall critical shortage of housing."

    That didn't satisfy the New Democrats, with leader Brian Mason saying Albertans can't wait for help, and that apartment dwellers are being gouged out of their homes.

    "Over a thousand rental units were converted to condos last year in Calgary alone," said Mason.

    "It's a similar situation in Edmonton. Apartment owners eager to cash in on condo conversion jack up rents to get tenants out in 90 days rather than give the full 180 days notice."

    Municipal Affairs Minister Ray Danyluk again asked the public to be patient until the province can analyze a housing task force report.

    That report, sources said, is expected to be released next week. However, a Tory insider suggested it wouldn't be released soon.

    Mason has previously noted the housing crisis isn't a new phenomenon and has been building for several years.

    "Albertans can't wait for this government to figure out what it's going to do or to spin doctor its housing report," he said.

    "The crisis is real and condo conversions are making it worse."

    Criticism of the government's housing policy increased this week after the giant property company Boardwalk Equities announced it won't build any new apartments in Edmonton or Calgary until the average rent reaches $1,600 per month.

    --30--

  22. #22

    Default

    Not only will the market dictate a lot of this, but it should. Rent controls are daft. Brian Mason is talking nonsense.

    If there are people who can't afford to pay what their neighbours are willing to pay on the open market then Brian Mason (and all of us) should address the reasons.

    1. Is the person's earned income limited by illness or disability? Yes? Then the government should contribute towards the income, not the landlord.

    2. Is the person's earned income limited by a lack of skills & training? Yes? Then the government should contribute something by way of the person's entitlement, and the person should also be expected to borrow against future income to pay for learning the skills required to improve their earning ability.

    3. Is the person's earned income limited by changes to the economy itself as innovation and foreign trade make their mark? Yes? In this case, countries have the right to make trade deals that are for the greater good. But this carries with it the obligation to provide protection and retraining in affected sectors.

    When people choose a career, everyone hopes for the best, everyone needs to stay sharp and not rest on their laurels, and everyone expects a certain amount of change over their working lives. In our international era, the rules can change to a greater degree and faster than a reasonable hard-working person can expect. Government needs to put money in these people's pockets until they are up to speed.

    When companies innovate, they can also shed jobs. A responsible company will plan this (i.e. using attrition, not surprising people with layoffs, retraining and redeploying people, using capital to expand not contract).

    The responsible companies are contributing too much to the Employment Insurance fund. The irresponsible companies are not contributing enough. In every other form of insurance, the premium is related to risk. In Employment Insurance, there is no incentive for better practices either for the employer or the employee.

    4. Is the person's income limited by opportunity within the market? Yes? Then they can move. Let the free market work. In Edmonton, Tim Horton's is apparently willing to pay a heck of a lot for people to serve doughnuts. If other companies are not so clever, then people will move. Instead of just scraping by, working for a cheapskate company in Edmonton, they will go to Regina which has strong growth in house prices, a good possibility of employment, but is still vastly more affordable.

  23. #23

    Default Tories ignore urgent housing proposals

    Band-Aids no fix
    Tories ignore urgent housing proposals


    Sun, April 29, 2007
    By Kerry Diotte, Edmonton Sun


    When it comes to the Alberta provincial government, it has once again been proven that rural rubes rule the roost.

    That's seldom been more apparent than in the wake of the provincial Tories' response to a task force into Alberta's housing crisis.

    Rents are getting jacked up sky high, vacancy rates are at rock bottom and more and more Albertans are finding themselves literally on the streets, especially as apartment complexes get converted into condos.

    That's why the government struck an emergency task force in the first place.

    The 15-member panel that had representatives from three provincial parties spent 45 days gathering information as part of the Alberta Affordable Housing Task Force.

    One of the key passages that struck me in the task force report was this one, describing what the group heard from scores of Albertans: "In light of future growth projections, the need was stressed everywhere for a longer-term plan - both politically and fiscally - rather than Band-Aid solutions."

    But what was the province's response this past week to the recommendations of the task force?

    Well, as usual, it opted for the Band-Aid solution of simply throwing more money at a problem without a comprehensive plan.

    The cash amounts to $285 million doled out in a variety of ways instead of the $480 million requested.

    The problem is the government ignored the vast majority of the task force's 57 recommendations, including a key one calling for temporary rent controls that would have allowed increases matching cost-of-living bumps plus 2%.

    Squawking MLAs

    Task force insiders say the committee voted something like 10-5 for that drastic measure, but the government would have none of it, even though some urban Tory caucus members pushed for the same thing.

    The squawking from rural MLAs was too loud, apparently.

    The best the government could do is rule that rents can now only be hiked annually instead of twice a year.

    This left task force member, NDP MLA Ray Martin, seething.

    "We're in a crisis," said Martin. "But these guys couldn't get by their ideology on the rent guideline front.

    "Sure, rent subsidies will increase (by $14.5 million to $33 million), but if you don't have rent guidelines, all the landlords will keep putting up rent anyway. So the subsidies will wind up going to landlords.

    "We made a lot of suggestions about a housing plan and a housing secretariat and looking at densification in the cities and they rejected them or sloughed them off to other committees."

    Martin pointed out that even former Tory premier Peter Lougheed set up a housing ministry to try to tackle the housing crisis during the 1970s' energy boom and his government put in temporary rent controls.

    "The problem is they're throwing gobs of money here, there and everywhere without a plan.

    "I got an e-mail from one of the task force participants who said, 'Do you feel duped too?'''

    Why is it we've heard that criticism of this government on other issues as well?

    They certainly do tend to spend gobs of cash on a lot of things and the long-term vision is clouded to say the least.

    God help us when our energy runs out.

    And God help the tenants who are facing sky-high rent hikes they can't afford - because the government has done nothing to directly stop that.

    E-mail [email protected] or respond to his blog at: blog.canoe.ca/diotte

    --30--

  24. #24

    Default No rent controls in new legislation

    No rent controls in new legislation

    Archie McLean, edmontonjournal.com
    Published: Wednesday, May 02, 2007


    Albertans clamouring for rent controls will get no help from the government’s new housing bill, introduced Wednesday in the legislature.

    As expected, it makes no mention of the such regulations.

    “We discussed the issue,” Premier Ed Stelmach said. “The bill that was introduced today was reflective of the discussions around the caucus table.”

    The bill does limit the number of rent increases to one per year and requires landlords to give tenants a year’s notice before turning a building into condos or doing major renovations.

    Landlords violating the act could face $5,000 in fines per unit.

    That’s not good enough for Andrew Tambone, who moved here last summer from Halifax with his wife and two young sons. Rather than buying a house right away, they decided to rent first to get a feel for the city.

    In May, Tambone was informed that the rent for his two-bedroom place in Oliver would rise from $1,100 to $1,300 a month, starting in August.

    He said the government’s plan to limit rent increases to once per year won’t help much.

    “What does that do? It doesn’t stop anyone from raising the rent as much as 50 per cent. So instead of twice a year, they’ll give it to you all in one shot.”

    Tambone favors rent controls in such a tight market.

    “The government needs to recognize that the market right now is in a state of imbalance and until that imbalance is corrected, then there should be some form of rent control to prevent landlords from stiffing people with these large increases.”

    A government-appointed housing task force recently recommended the province cap yearly rent increases at inflation plus two per cent.

    But since the release of the task force’s report, the government, local landlords and some housing experts have argued that rent controls don’t work. They say controls download the costs of housing onto landlords and are difficult to remove one they’re in place.

    The Edmonton Apartment Association decried the legislative changes as a slap in the face to landlords who say their arms were twisted by tenants when the last oil boom went bust only to now get hammered by the province when times are good.

    Association president Ben Seutter said the market had been undervalued for a long time because of a glut of housing built in the first oil boom of the 1970s that was abandoned just as quickly when the boom went bust in the early 1980s.

    “Most guy were just barely hanging on hoping not to lose everything, waiting for it to turn around. And now in the last couple of years things are starting to turn around and you’re trying to get back to a break-even point or make some money, but now it’s, ‘Oh, we have to control it.’ ”

    Landlords still face inflated construction and renovation costs, he said.

    “Carpet that used to cost $500 for installation now costs $1,800.”

    Along with new regulations, the government has pledged $196 million to municipalities to deal with the housing shortage. They are also setting up a $7 million emergency fund to help people who are displaced by rent increases.

    The government wants to build 11,200 new affordable housing units around the province by 2012.

    Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister Ray Danyluk said Wednesday the new bill should help renters like Tambone.

    “It gives stability for renters, some predictability,” Danyluk said.

    But in question period, both opposition parties blasted the government.

    “The way to respond to a crisis is with immediate action,” Liberal housing critic Bruce Miller said. “The reality is that the market is more volatile than it was before, renters are scared to come home in case they get eviction notices or massive rent hikes. Landlords are unclear as to what the rules are.”

    NDP housing critic Ray Martin accused the government of helping landlords maul their tenants.

    “The balanced approach that you’re giving is money for the gougers and renters take the hind leg.”

    Some Tories have spoken in favor of rent controls. There is a resolution at the party’s annual general meeting this weekend asking the government to implement the housing task force’s recommendations, including rent control. If it passes, it will be mostly symbolic.

    With files from the Canadian Press

    [email protected]

    --30--

  25. #25

    Default Astronomical rent hikes "un-Albertan," says premie

    Astronomical rent hikes "un-Albertan," says premier

    Jason Markusoff, edmontonjournal.com
    Published: Friday, May 04, 2007


    Premier Ed Stelmach signalled his government may do an about-face on rent controls, saying Friday he found reports of $1,000-a-month rent increases and similar hikes un-Albertan and unfair to some of Albertas most distressed residents.

    Stelmach said his Tory MLAs will revisit their policies on affordable housing, if his partys members endorse a resolution at their convention today which asks the Tory government to implement all the recommendations of its housing task force which include a call for rent controls.

    Ive heard about these absolutely astronomical rent increases that really are un-Albertan, the premier told reporters Friday.

    We have to look after the vulnerable. A thousand dollars a month increase is beyond reason, and Im going to await the discussion and the outcome of the resolution tomorrow.

    Last week, the Stelmach governments housing plan rejected the idea of limiting the size of rent hikes landlords can impose, after Stelmach and most of his caucus argued they shouldnt interfere in the free market and potentially discourage new development.

    Instead, the Tories introduced legislation this week that lets landlords only hike rents once a year, not two. Several landlords have responded to the moves by slapping huge increases on tenants, an increasingly popular trend around the province.

    NDP Leader Brian Mason brought up the case of Edmonton pensioner Doreen Fiddler in the legislature Thursday. The 74-year-old widow was notified this week that rent for her one-bedroom apartment will soar from $595 a month to $1,595.

    Are you going to do something to make sure that people like this woman, this senior, dont have to pay increases of that magnitude, Mason asked.

    Stelmach told reporters that he heard about that case while visiting Lethbridge on Thursday, and was disturbed. Even for me, $1,000, thats a hefty increase, he said. He couldnt understand why a landlord would impose such dramatic rent hikes, unless youre trying to drive somebody out of the apartment.

    But rent hikes of that proportion or higher have been occurring for months in Albertas boom-influenced, hyper-inflated housing market.

    The premier insisted he wasnt reversing his stance. My care and compassion for Albertans has not changed. At the same time, he refused to firmly say whether hes now open to rent controls, insisting he wanted to see what party members think. Many Tory MLAs have said the Conservative way is to resist controlling how landlords operate, although some, including Edmonton MLA Thomas Lukaszuk and several Calgarians, argued the situation is extreme and limits are needed.

    The all-party housing task force called for rent increases to be limited to the rate of inflation plus two per cent which would amount to roughly seven per cent in current conditions.

    [email protected]

    --30--

  26. #26

    Default Rain won't flush away homelessness

    Rain won't flush away homelessness
    Crowds clear in front of city hall


    Fri, May 4, 2007
    By AJAY BHARDWAJ, Sun Media


    Rain will flush away human feces found in front of city hall after a three-day protest by homeless people but it won’t wash away the problem of homelessness in Edmonton, says a street pastor.

    And while Pedro Schultz has brokered a deal with city representatives to open 200 beds at Hope Mission for another month, he says protesters might be right back in front of city hall by month’s end if a permanent solution isn’t found.

    “We may set up tents, we may do something else,” said Schultz.

    “The city only committed to one month,” said Schultz, who praised city officials for trying to find solutions. “I want to know what (the provincial and federal governments) are going to do.”

    He is calling on the provincial government to “rent out all government owned residences at a rate poor people can afford.”

    Winter homeless shelters closed at the end of April spurring Schultz to lead an impromptu protest on Tuesday in front of city hall starting. Dozens of homeless people have been camping in front of the building as a result.

    Mayor’s representative Brad Stromberg, who brokered the deal to reopen beds with homeless shelters and Schultz, had hoped the campers would get out of the rain and take advantage of the shelter space.

    But he readily admitted, the campers need permanent homes.

    “Surveys indicate the numbers (of homeless) are up and the numbers are high,” said Stromberg. “We are drawing on the resources we have.

    “Will homelessness be solved in 30 days? Obviously, it’s an ongoing challenge but we can’t wash our hands of it.”

    The crowd, which began with about 70 people on Tuesday night, fluctuated between then and Friday, when the agreement with the city kicked in.

    When the crowds cleared, the area in front of city hall was found deluged with paper, debris and human feces.

    City spokesman Robert Moyles said a contract service, Bee-Clean, that works for the city picked up human feces following the protest, but bylaw crews didn’t issue any tickets.

    “They encountered lots of debris and litter and human feces,” said Moyles. “We’re also going to encourage people to go (homeless) shelters where they have appropriate facilities.”

    Schultz said he had hoped the city would have opened up a change room used by skaters in the winter for the protest but it remained locked. So campers were forced to use plastic garbage cans lined with plastic shopping bags for their excrement, he said.

    By Friday afternoon, a handful of homeless remained camped out in front of city hall, said Capital Health environmental health Sandra Hamilton. She said any human feces would be dissolved by rain. But Capital Health will continue to monitor the situation at city hall, she added.

    [email protected]

    --30--

  27. #27

    Default Deja vu

    Deja vu

    The Edmonton Journal
    Published: Saturday, June 16, 2007


    On Feb. 15, 1990, then city councillor Brian Mason took up the charge of rent control for Alberta tenants.

    At the time, Mason argued that 30-per-cent rent increases were excessive and there should be some mechanism for rolling them back. He was unsuccessful.

    Today, 17 years later, NDP Leader Mason is making the same promises to a new generation of renters -- the same empty, shallow promises that offer false hope, when the only real options for renters are to move or to seek help from the various agencies who can provide it. There are people in peril in this economy. Protection for those who need it? Yes. Rent control? Absolutely not.

    Good of you to be so keen on recycling, Mason. Let us know when you have something meaningful to propose.

    Doug Elniski, former executive director, Edmonton Landlord and Tenant Advisory Board

    © The Edmonton Journal 2007

    --30--

  28. #28

    Default Stelmach pressed on rent controls

    Stelmach pressed on rent controls
    Councillors say limited-income earners particularly vulnerable


    Susan Ruttan, edmontonjournal.com
    Published: Monday, June 18, 2007


    The Stelmach government needs to bring in rent controls to ease Edmonton's growing housing crisis, a group of activists said today.

    Coun. Michael Phair and Coun. Dave Thiele and Susan Morrissey, head of the Edmonton Social Planning Council, held a news conference at City Hall to report on what they heard at two recent forums for local renters.

    People with limited income, including seniors and the disabled, are in particular need of protection from soaring rents, they said.

    Phair said he heard from one man this morning who is getting a $600 monthly disability payment and is renting half a garage.

    The group is proposing the same measure proposed by the government's Affordable Housing Task Force. For two years, landlords would be able to raise rents by the rate of inflation plus two per cent, and could only raise the rents once a year. Landlords could apply to government for the right to raise rents more, to cover utility costs, renovations and the like.

    That's the model currently used in British Columbia, said NDP MLA Ray Martin, who sat on the provincial task force and attended the news conference. In Ontario, he said, landlords can only raise rents by the inflation rate.

    The Stelmach government has refused to introduce rent controls.

    "The only thing that will change them is when they feel they're losing political suppor" because of the housing crisis, Martin said.

    [email protected]

    --30--

  29. #29

    Default Housing woes lead to sex trade: advocate

    Housing woes lead to sex trade: advocate
    But added protection from growing homeless numbers


    Mon, June 18, 2007
    By CARTER HAYDU, SPECIAL TO SUN MEDIA


    Skyrocketing rents are forcing some women into the “survival sex trade,” warns one advocate for prostitutes.

    “It’s a sad situation, but it’s reality,” said Carol-Lynn Strachan.

    She said she’s seeing women, who would otherwise not turn tricks on city streets, selling their bodies part time to supplement their income to cover monthly expenses.

    “That’s what they call the survival sex trade,” said Strachan.

    She doesn’t have a problem with people who choose prostitution willingly. However, she said being forced into the trade because of increasing living expenses is simply wrong.

    “With rent increases, with pregnant or single mothers out there, that’s when I have a problem.”

    She said continued rental increases are also putting financial strains on many full-time prostitutes. She knows of five prostitutes living in one apartment.

    Upside

    However, one upside to rental increases for people in her industry, according to Strachan, is the added protection prostitutes gain from the growing homeless population.

    She said once prostitutes befriend people living on the streets, those homeless people are more likely to look out for the prostitutes.

    Currently, many of those dispossessed have set up a tent town on government-owned property located behind the west Bissell Centre building, not far from their previous town.

    Last week, Bissell staff had to evict about 20 homeless campers from the east Bissell Centre building parking lot on 10527-96 Street.

    Capital Health officials told Bissell staff the makeshift parking lot campground required toilets, running water, waste water disposal and garbage bins to remain in operation.

    Shelley Williams, Bissell Centre executive director, said telling the tent dwellers to leave was difficult, but all obliged and, since they basically just crossed the street, didn’t have far to move.

    Eviction

    Since their relocation, Williams hasn’t heard any of the campers talk about possible eviction from their current location.

    However, even if they are stably positioned for a while, she doesn’t believe shantytowns are enough to solve Edmonton’s homelessness problem.

    “The only long term resolution is permanent housing … with support for people requiring support.”

    Arley Hanna is one of those residents living behind the west Bissell Centre building.

    Even if he had more financial support, he doesn’t think many property owners would rent to him because he appears homeless.

    “Just look at me — the rugged look.”

    Hanna has been homeless for six months and fighting pneumonia for 10 months. He said living outside makes it difficult to get better.

    “You wake up angry and feeling sick … anxiety and depression.”

    --30--

  30. #30

    Default Hard ride for rookie housing minister

    Hard ride for rookie housing minister
    Danyluk calm at centre of two storms: distraught tenants and peeved Calgarians


    Graham Thomson, The Edmonton Journal
    Published: Tuesday, June 19, 2007


    He is minister of housing in a province with a housing market gone mad.

    Yet, Ray Danyluk still seems remarkably sane.

    In fact, when we meet for coffee on Monday morning in a downtown Edmonton cafe, he even looks relaxed. He shows up wearing shorts, sandals and a golf shirt. With his hefty build and bushy beard, he looks like a biker on a Caribbean vacation.

    Actually, he is a biker. He sometimes rides to work on a big motorcycle and uses an off-road motorbike, not a horse, to round up his cattle. As a backbencher he was always a bit of a maverick, not afraid to speak his mind.

    As a cabinet minister he is much more careful in choosing his words, even though it seems at times on Monday he wants to say something blunt about a certain mayor that, for the sake of this column, we shall refer to as "Dave Bronconnier" of "Calgary."

    Danyluk is not unkind to Bronconnier but he does dispute the Calgary mayor's version of events over municipal grants in the provincial budget. Danyluk says the province did not unfairly add "steel strings" to the grants as the mayor charges.

    Danyluk insists Calgary simply got what it asked for, as did other municipalities, including Edmonton.

    "It was Mayor Bronconnier himself who said 'You know, there are certain things I want to do for housing but you've got to give me the money and you've got to give me the flexibility,' " says Danyluk. "You give the flexibility and then what happens is the interpretation is, 'Well, there are strings (attached) on housing.' But that's what they asked for and that's what we gave."

    As Danyluk talks, he orders a steaming hot cinnamon bun that grows cold as he picks at it for 45 minutes while he explains his government policies on housing and municipal affairs. He is passionate, lively and has so much to say he never actually finishes his mid-morning snack.

    Danyluk is a rookie minister in a cabinet filled with first-timers. But few have been under the same kind of intense pressure their first six months on the job. Danyluk is at the centre of two storms: one over affordable housing and rent controls; the other over municipal grants. There must be days Danyluk feels like he's been tossed in the deep end with an anvil tied round his neck. Or maybe it's an albatross.

    The name of this bird is communication. The government seems unable to get its message out. Even though it insists it is trying to be "equitable" to municipalities, it has managed to infuriate the province's largest municipality, Calgary.

    Danyluk is trying to build bridges, attempting to explain his government's position. So is Premier Ed Stelmach. But it's a bit like Jerry Seinfeld trying to explain the punch line to a joke. If people don't get it, they don't get it.

    If Calgarians are feeling slighted, that is their reality and they will react accordingly. Just ask Conservative candidate Brian Heninger, who lost last week's byelection in Calgary-Elbow to the Liberals.

    And if tenants feel they are being exploited by landlords in an overheated market, that is their reality, too. The government absolutely refuses to consider the idea of rent controls even though its own task force recommended them, even though the public wants them and even though some of its own MLAs quietly support them.

    Over coffee on Monday, Danyluk reiterates the government position that rent controls would upset the market, unfairly target landlords and prevent the construction of new rental units.

    It's the same argument the government has been using for months and it's the same vulnerable argument the government is apparently willing to take into the next general election expected in 2008. Thus, expect to see more distraught tenants facing eviction when they can't afford astronomical rent increases that even Stelmach has dubbed "un-Albertan."

    The housing situation is so bad that even the homeless are being evicted. On the weekend, authorities in Edmonton forced two dozen people to take down their tents in the parking lot of Edmonton's inner-city Bissell Centre.

    That prompted Edmonton Mayor Stephen Mandel to say "we need to have a better plan for the homeless than tents." To help come up with a plan, Mandel met with Danyluk on Monday.

    The two men are getting along wonderfully these days. Danyluk's healthy relationship with Edmonton is in remarkable contrast to the government's relationship with Calgary.

    The rural-urban political split everyone is talking about might yet be more of a north-south divide. Or maybe it's a Calgary versus everybody else chasm.

    The division is so great in some people's minds that a few government MLAs in Calgary are quietly fearful the

    Stelmach government is writing off the city, hoping to hang on to government by regaining seats in Edmonton and sweeping rural Alberta in the next election.

    It's an argument that smacks of paranoia and might not make sense politically. But as far as many Calgarians are concerned, the Alberta government is not making much sense these days.

    That is their reality, that is the punchline. And nobody is laughing.

    [email protected]

    © The Edmonton Journal 2007

    --30--

  31. #31

    Default Leukemia patient losing hope in housing crisis

    Leukemia patient losing hope in housing crisis

    Tue, June 19, 2007, Edmonton Sun
    By CARTER HAYDU


    For at least one Edmonton man, the city's rental crisis is sapping his will to live.

    During last month's so-called renter listening forums at the Stanley Milner Library, Susan Morrissey, Edmonton Social Planning Council executive director, was stunned by the story told by one man recently diagnosed with leukemia.

    With his rent going up, the man was considering letting the disease take its course.

    "He's not even sure he wants to go for any more treatment, because he's just going to end up on the street," Morrissey said.

    City councillors Michael Phair and Dave Thiele joined Morrissey at city hall yesterday for the release of the forums' report.

    Thiele said many of the 62 people who spoke at the forums complained of poor living conditions they had to endure as decent rental-unit prices are simply too high.

    "A lot of people had some mice and a bit of squalor and mould."

    Based on forum discussions, the planning council came up with 13 recommendations regarding rental prices, which will be presented to the provincial government.

    The first recommendation is for the government to reconsider its rejection of a rent-control plan.

    The so-called rent stability guideline would keep rent increases to the consumer price index rate plus 2% and to limit increases to once annually. The guideline would be in place for two years.

    Phair said a period of rent regulation is required until developers can build more housing to accommodate the current migration into Alberta.

    "If we started digging the hole today for a multi-unit family unit, it would probably take 18 months before it was concluded."

    Another recommendation calls for increases to government assistance for AISH recipients, income support clients and low-income seniors, ensuring they can stay in their current rental units.

    "If they can't stay where they are, there's virtually nothing for them to move into," Phair said.

    Although the spring legislature session is over, Phair said the government has made interim decisions in the past and the plight of renters, found in the forum report, could sway MLAs.

    During the forums, he heard tenants complain of hundreds of dollars in rent increases, while little was done to improve the properties.

    Aside from making recommendations to government, the report helps inform all Edmontonians of the problems tenants face.

    The report is available at www.edmspc.com.

    --30--

  32. #32

    Default

    Edmonton Sun Letter's
    June 19, 2007


    Re: June 8 story on the province's eviction prevention fund. The market has taken precedence over humanity. Shelter is not a privilege; it is a basic human right. Good governance is a priority for Albertans. People before profit.

    June Letki

    (Ideals and politics are often at odds.)

    --30--

  33. #33

    Default Homeless people camp out in provincially owned field

    Homeless people camp out in provincially owned field

    Alexandra Zabjek, The Edmonton Journal
    Published: Wednesday, June 20, 2007


    On a sunny Tuesday afternoon, Louis and Lynn sit in an empty downtown field, enjoying the warm weather and a visit from friends.

    The field is home for the common-law couple and dozens of other homeless people who have bounced around three camping spots in the 96th Street and 105th Avenue area in the last several weeks.

    They were told to come to this provincially owned patch of grass after their much-publicized eviction from the Bissell Centre's parking lot last Friday.

    "A police officer said -- really quietly -- there's a guy over there who has had a tent there for a week and no one's kicked him out," recalled Louis, who asked that his last name not be used.

    The couple took the hint and moved their tent and a shopping cart full of belongings across the street to the field behind the Bissell Centre West. The police have since said as long as the area is kept clean, they can stay.

    "We keep our garbage bag on our mobile home," Louis, 49, joked, pointing to the shopping cart parked beside their tent. Sometimes in the morning, the couple picks up garbage left by overnight partiers. They often find used needles near the fence behind their tent. They use the washrooms and phones at the Bissell Centre during the day. At night, they go to the nearby York Hotel.

    Approximately 15 tents have been set up around the field's perimeter. Some are covered in tarps, others have lawn chairs sitting out front. Those without tents have carved spots by laying down blankets.

    Louis and Lynn have been looking at the Bissell Centre's apartment listings, but do not appear hopeful they will find somewhere to live.

    "We're all homeless and they're telling us about places that start at $700," Louis said.

    Despite reassurances they won't have to move, the couple worries they could get evicted from the field -- and they won't have anywhere else to go.

    Edmonton police confirm that the tent city will be allowed to stand as long as there are no public complaints.

    "We're responding if there's obvious disorder. If there's litter, if we see people urinating or defecating, if we see people drinking in the open, we'll take action and move them out," said Insp. Brian Nowlan.

    [email protected]
    © The Edmonton Journal 2007

    --30--

  34. #34

    Default Trailer park may help homeless

    Trailer park may help homeless
    Mayor lauds plan for city to open park for 700 units


    Susan Ruttan, The Edmonton Journal
    Published: Wednesday, June 20, 2007


    The city may open a new trailer park as part of its efforts to ease the housing crisis, an idea that has the enthusiastic support of Mayor Stephen Mandel, who calls it "a huge win."

    "We could put 500 or 700 units on the market like that," the mayor told city council Tuesday.

    Mandel, who owns a large trailer park in Sherwood Park, said the city has available land in the northwest where a new trailer park could be located.

    Terry Loat, the city's housing manager, said the city is actively pursuing the idea. He said a developer would be contracted to create the park, then would either rent the concrete pads to people or sell or rent the trailers as well.

    In an interview, Loat said it might be possible to open the park in an area before it has waterlines. The trailers could use cisterns until the waterlines are installed, he said.

    The trailer park idea is part of a multi-year housing plan approved by city council Tuesday, which will be funded by $169 million in provincial and city money.

    The plan includes a range of ideas to create permanent housing for low-income people, as well as transitional housing for newcomers and the homeless.

    Creating housing units quickly is one of the objectives.

    Loat said one idea is for the city to buy a motel or two to be used for temporary housing. Many skilled tradesmen need somewhere better than a homeless shelter to stay while they earn enough for a damage deposit on an apartment, he said.

    "We're just trying to think as far outside the box as we can," Loat said.

    His department hopes to create 3,900 new housing units in the next few years, but there could be 10 times that number of people in Edmonton in need of better housing, he said.

    The city has an acute shortage because of the thousands of people arriving here to work. Though housing is a federal and provincial responsibility, the city has become involved in trying to ease the shortage.

    The mayor's office has recently been co-ordinating meetings of social agencies that help the homeless, with a goal of making a joint submission to the province for more funding.

    Mandel told council he'll go to the housing minister on behalf of the agencies, but doesn't want the city alone stuck with the problem of homelessness.

    "I'd get real concerned if we start to step into that homeless area," he said. "It is a bottomless pit."

    The issue made headlines again last week when homeless campers were evicted from the parking lot outside the downtown Bissell Centre on orders from health inspectors. The campers have now moved to a nearby empty lot.

    Loat said the social agencies don't want to deal with the rising numbers of homeless simply by adding more sleeping mats in shelters.

    "They've indicated we may have a need for an additional 400 mats, but they've all indicated that's not the solution to homelessness. The real solution is transitional housing."

    The housing debate prompted sharp comments about the provincial government by some councillors, who see the failure of provincial housing policy as the cause of the current crisis.

    "Premier Klein said a year ago they had no plan," Mandel said. "This is the result of them having no plan."

    Mike Nickel was the only councillor who voted against the housing plan. He told reporters the proper way to promote more rental housing is to reduce the tax burden on landlords.

    [email protected]

    --30--

  35. #35
    C2E Long Term Contributor
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Location
    Downtown
    Posts
    31,496

    Default Re: Trailer park may help homeless

    Quote Originally Posted by djgirl
    Mike Nickel was the only councillor who voted against the housing plan. He told reporters the proper way to promote more rental housing is to reduce the tax burden on landlords.
    Right, like that will automatically translate to cheaper rent. What will stop landlords from simply taking in a windfall?

  36. #36
    Addicted to C2E
    Mr. Reality Check

    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Location
    Edmonton, Alberta
    Posts
    12,059

    Default Re: Trailer park may help homeless

    Quote Originally Posted by Sonic Death Monkey
    ... What will stop landlords from simply taking in a windfall?
    Having more housing in the market than there is demand for - same as labour costs.

  37. #37

    Default Lease coach helps negotiate rents

    Lease coach helps negotiate rents

    Ron Chalmers, edmontonjournal.com
    Published: Wednesday, June 20, 2007


    With today's quickly-rising rents, business owners need expert help in negotiating their leases, says Dale Willerton, owner of The Lease Coach.

    He started his Edmonton-based business in 1993 and, this January, started selling Lease Coach franchises across North America.

    While most tenants are experts in their own businesses many are amateurs in negotiating leases, Willerton says.

    "For a new tenant the biggest obstacle is lack of knowledge," he says. "They think the property must be worth what the landlord is asking."

    A tenant should start by calculating the space that the business needs - and can afford, Willerton says.

    Then he or she should comparison shop - regardless of emotional attachments to the present location. When a client says he won't move, "I ask them what he would do if the building burned down."

    Willerton recalls one tenant who was willing to pay an increase to $28 per square foot per year from $25.

    "I received competing offers from two nearby property owners, showed them to the landlord, and negotiated a renewal for less than $10," Willerton says.

    "I still get invited to that client's Christmas parties!"

    Tenants must realize that they do have bargaining power, never accept the first offer, and always explore alternatives, Willerton says.

    In today's market, where a rent increase is more likely than a reduction, Willerton says tenants must start planning up to 18 months before the renewal date, giving them time to explore every possibility, and to conduct extended negotiations.

    Otherwise, they'll have no options - or bargaining power: "A lot of business owners are hitting the renewal wall, starting the process too late."

    When all rental options appear too costly, a business owner should re-assess his needs. With an established base of customers for a destination business, a high-traffic location may no longer be essential. And lightly-used space that was affordable when rents were cheap may now be expendable - although Willerton advises growing businesses to anticipate their needs over the full term of the lease.

    One his most valuable marketing tools, Willerton says, is his "ask the Lease Coach" feature at www.TheLeaseCoach.com.

    Many users of this free service become paying clients, he says. Others are attracted by his speaking engagements or his Negotiate Your Commercial Lease book, published by Self-Counsel Press.

    Willerton bills clients either by the project or by the hour. Among his most popular services is the review of a lease that has been offered by a landlord. He charges $995 for a 39-point written report plus a one-hour consultation.

    "We usually save tenants five or 10 times our fee," he says.

    Willerton now has franchised five exclusive territories and hopes eventually to sell franchises for every province and state.

    --30--

  38. #38
    C2E Continued Contributor
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Location
    Edmonton
    Posts
    1,178

    Default Re: Trailer park may help homeless

    Blame the homeless!
    Blame the city!
    Blame the province!
    Blame the landlords!
    Blame the economy!
    Blame Stelmach!
    Blame Harper!
    Blame the economy!
    Blame Trudeau!

    It seems the only one NOT blamed here is The Edmonton Sun.

    Stop the blame game! Stop tugging each other's purse strings and get the problem solved. Funding can be argued later - after all, it's the same taxpayers who end up with the price tag.

    Lower rents and rent controls won't do anything if we don't have enough structures to rent or sell. If we have 100 rental units and 2,000 applications, we will end up with 1,900 unsatisfied renters no matter what the rate.

    The crisis is NOW. Building new units won't help because they won't be available for years. What will it help in the fall of 2007 to promise 5,000 new units to be available in September 2010.

    We need to set a deadline of August 2007 to solve the crisis. After August we start getting into colder weather.

    We must stop the politicians from trying to build $400,000 homes for people living in tents and shopping carts. The timeline will not allow it and most of them would be happy in a parkade until they can find someplace affordable.

    Governments think ahead in terms of years and decades. They are unable to cope with a timeline of days and weeks. In the short term, this crisis would be better managed by by street level agencies like the Bissel Center and Salvation Army.

  39. #39

    Default Political pressure

    Political pressure

    The Edmonton Journal
    Published: Sunday, June 24, 2007


    Re: "City plan aims to ease housing crisis," The Journal, June 19.

    The article quotes New Democrat MLA Ray Martin as saying, "the Stelmach government will only agree to rent controls when they feel they're losing political support."

    Premier Ed Stelmach, you have taken away from me the choice of where I live and of what type of housing I can now rent. I am putting you on notice that I will not be voting Conservative in the next election and neither will my daughter, who is an Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped recipient.

    If you want our votes back, then bring in rent controls immediately.

    The honest landlords won't mind; only the ones who are gouging their tenants will.

    Arlene Thompson,
    Edmonton

    © The Edmonton Journal 2007

    --30--

  40. #40

    Default Housing is a right, not a privilege

    Housing is a right, not a privilege

    The Edmonton Journal
    Published: Sunday, June 24, 2007


    The province of Alberta has arrived at a point where having a roof over one's head is becoming a privilege, rather than what it has always been -- a basic human right.

    Low- and middle-income Albertans, many working two or more jobs, find themselves increasingly unable to purchase a residence.

    For many, the only option is rental accommodation.

    With vacancy rates for rental units at a near all-time low, and with many owners opting to convert rental housing into saleable condominiums, many low- and middle-income Albertans are being squeezed out of their homes.

    To their credit, the majority of landlords have avoided giving their tenants exorbitant rent increases.

    But those who find themselves on fixed incomes or low incomes may be forced to choose between housing their families or feeding them.

    Either choice ends in a failure to provide for the basic necessities of life. That choice -- anywhere in Canada, but especially in Alberta -- is intolerable.

    In a climate of economic boom, with the construction industry pressed to the limit of its productive capacity, building affordable housing for low-income people is not of high priority.

    Incentives to build affordable housing need to be put in place, so that the priority to build for lower-income Albertans becomes as viable as any other construction project.

    This will take the economic and social will of our governments -- municipal and provincial -- working in partnership with the construction industry, so that everyone profits economically and socially, and all Albertans can live their lives without fear of losing the roof over their heads.

    We encourage local and provincial governments to think outside of the box and beyond the bottom line.

    This is a social situation to be collectively solved, not ignored. The measure of our humanity, the measure of our society, is what we do to the weakest and most defenseless members of it.

    We have the means to do better. All we require is the will.

    Ecumenical Bishops of Alberta:

    Most Rev. Fred Henry,

    Roman Catholic Church

    Calgary Diocese;

    Rev. Lynn Maki,

    United Church of Canada;

    Rt. Rev. Victoria Matthews,

    Anglican Church of Canada;

    Rev. Ronald Mayan,

    Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada; Most Rev. David Motiuk,

    Ukrainian Catholic Church;

    Most Rev. Richard Smith,

    Roman Catholic Church

    - Edmonton Archdiocese

    © The Edmonton Journal 2007

    --30--

  41. #41

    Default Priorities

    Priorities

    The Edmonton Journal
    Published: Sunday, June 24, 2007


    Re: "Housing crunch forces workers to camp out in valley: Newcomers can't find a place to stay," The Journal, June 10, and "Homeless evicted ... again: Affordable housing shortage blamed for third move in month," June 16.

    This, in our prosperous, oil-rich Edmonton.

    Now what? If people can't find a place to live, if they can't afford the rents, what are they to do?

    In the name of common decency and humanity, city officials should find a roof for human beings before they think of spending money on highway signs or other frivolous things.

    Clare Botsford,
    Edmonton

    © The Edmonton Journal 2007

    --30--

  42. #42

    Default Not a nice place

    Not a nice place

    The Edmonton Journal
    Published: Sunday, June 24, 2007


    I read articles about tent cities with great interest.

    Many people think that evicting homeless people is wrong, and only moves the problem to another neighbourhood. It does. And it's even more confusing why campers would be evicted from a site beside the Bissell Centre, which directly supports the tent community.

    I ride a bike to and from work, as well as recreationally around the city, and I use the trail adjacent to the LRT.

    Kitty-corner to the remand centre is a tent city. Here, people convert picnic tables into homes. Along with a nomadic population, copious glass, panhandlers and litter obstruct the path. I understand the old adage "safety in numbers," but these people shout obscenities and spit on passers-by.

    I feel that this is a safety issue.

    Amanda Paziuk,
    Edmonton

    © The Edmonton Journal 2007

    --30--

  43. #43

    Default Put empty space to use

    Put empty space to use

    The Edmonton Journal
    Published: Sunday, June 24, 2007


    The Federal Building in Government Centre has been empty for many years.

    It was an office building, so it would have washrooms on each floor.

    Why not convert a few floors into a homeless shelter and renovate some floors into suites for rent to low-income people? If not on a permanent basis, then it could be a temporary measure until more housing is built.

    The way I see it, the Stelmach government doesn't want rent controls because they would discourage developers from building apartments. But developers haven't been building apartments anyway.

    They should show us that they are planning to build in the future.

    Sharon Murphy,
    Edmonton

    © The Edmonton Journal 2007

    --30--

  44. #44

    Default Secondary suites play crucial role for students

    Secondary suites play crucial role for students

    The Edmonton Journal
    Published: Sunday, June 24, 2007


    Re: "Secondary suites require second thoughts," by Peter Goldring, Looking Ahead, June 18.

    Secondary suites are already an important part of our housing market. Many students at the U of A rely on this grey-market housing, and would benefit from city council's leadership in bringing more such housing online and ensuring better fire and safety code compliance.

    Students face extra challenges in this housing market, given the high cost of our programs and reduced earning power. We are very concerned that the back-to-school crunch will push vacancy rates lower still, and that rising rents will push education right out of reach for some.

    Students need bold action now from the city to improve existing secondary suites and allow for the creation of more suites citywide to relieve market pressure.

    Other cities have shown secondary suites can create affordable housing, help owners with rising costs, and won't undermine the vibrancy of established neighbourhoods.

    Michael Janz,
    Edmonton

    © The Edmonton Journal 2007

    --30--

  45. #45

    Default If gov't controls rents, will it also control costs?

    If gov't controls rents, will it also control costs?

    The Edmonton Journal
    Published: Sunday, June 24, 2007


    The current demand for rent controls is a short-sighted and futile outcry.

    I am not a landlord but I can see considerable problems inherent in any attempts to legislate rent limits.

    Imposing a ceiling on rent increases begs the question of where and to what extent government is prepared to control other costs.

    For example, if landlords are forced to restrict increases to a specific percentage, how will this figure be determined? Cost-of-living adjustments, which are based on the price of a fixed "basket" of goods and services, are hardly a reasonable method of establishing the real increases in the costs of maintaining and operating a rental property.

    Will government step in and curtail how much tradespeople charge to perform necessary repairs and maintenance? Will the prices of building materials be set by government? And will the government keep in check charges levied by utilities companies?

    Trying to control one aspect of a capitalist economy is like squeezing a balloon -- the bulge simply moves elsewhere.

    Faced with rising operating costs, landlords are, like everyone else, bent on protecting their own interests. With a limit already in place on the frequency of rent increases, and the prospect of rent controls still in the offing, it's hardly surprising that they're raising rents as soon as they can and converting apartments to condos to get a better return on their investments.

    Is government going to take control of rents and everything else? I think not. It's a dog-eat-dog economy and every dog has its day.

    M.H.L. Stewart,
    Beaumont

    © The Edmonton Journal 2007

    --30--

  46. #46

    Default

    What should the "honest landlord" do?

    Raise your rent, or say to someone else "No I am sorry; you can't live here. Yes I know you want to give me double what this cheapskate is paying, but you can't because I'm being honest?!?!"

    Seriously. If someone is willing to pay double what you are paying for the same apartment, it means they need it more than you.

  47. #47
    First One is Always Free
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Edmonton
    Posts
    8

    Default Re: Trailer park may help homeless

    [quote="djgirl"]Trailer park may help homeless
    Mayor lauds plan for city to open park for 700 units


    Susan Ruttan, The Edmonton Journal
    Published: Wednesday, June 20, 2007


    The city may open a new trailer park as part of its efforts to ease the housing crisis, an idea that has the enthusiastic support of Mayor Stephen Mandel, who calls it "a huge win."

    "We could put 500 or 700 units on the market like that," the mayor told city council Tuesday.

    Mandel, who owns a large trailer park in Sherwood Park, said the city has available land in the northwest where a new trailer park could be located.

    - - - - -
    PostPosted: Mon Feb 19, 2007 11:41 pm
    Post subject:

    MIMBY.... (maybe...).... : Wink

    Don't forget Mandel has his fingers in land ownership as it is... his ownership of a certain subdivision, or part thereof, was mentioned recently in the news... as memory might serve, I recall a park... hmmm.... yes that's right a trailer park...

    I don't trust this dude... he's a dud Exclamation

    - - - - -

    So. there's the proof. He does own it. Now we'll see.

    Oh, and RichardS....

    And I did say I don't trust him. I'll say it again so I'm clear on this: I DO NOT TRUST THIS DUDE! He's a DUD!!

    Boris

  48. #48
    C2E Long Term Contributor
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Location
    Downtown
    Posts
    31,496

    Default

    What does Mandel's ownership of a trailer park in Sherwood have to do with building one in NW Edmonton? It's not like he's going to own the new one.

  49. #49
    Addicted to C2E
    Mr. Reality Check

    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Location
    Edmonton, Alberta
    Posts
    12,059

    Default Re: Trailer park may help homeless

    Quote Originally Posted by boris_edm
    [...
    So. there's the proof. He does own it. Now we'll see.

    Oh, and RichardS....

    And I did say I don't trust him. I'll say it again so I'm clear on this: I DO NOT TRUST THIS DUDE! He's a DUD!!

    Boris
    Boris,

    If you're not prepared to trust someone because they own a trailer park, what about someone who owns an apartment buidling perhaps? or a house? or a condo? or a car? or a three piece suit? or a pair of jeans with no patches? or his own tools? or whatever. If you're not careful, you will soon find yourself only able to trust those who have nothing at all.

    Not that there is anything wrong with having nothing, it's just that I'm not sure I would use that alone as a criteria to trust someone or not. I always thought trust had something to do with one's honesty and integrity and principles, not with what they owned or did not own.

  50. #50
    C2E Continued Contributor
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Location
    Edmonton
    Posts
    1,178

    Default Re: Trailer park may help homeless

    Quote Originally Posted by boris_edm
    I don't trust this dude... he's a dud Exclamation
    - - - - -
    So. there's the proof. He does own it. Now we'll see.

    Oh, and RichardS....

    And I did say I don't trust him. I'll say it again so I'm clear on this: I DO NOT TRUST THIS DUDE! He's a DUD!!

    Boris
    You don't trust Mandel because he owns a trailer park? Ok, Boris, ask yourself if you would trust him if he did not own that trailer park. If you say that you would trust him, what is it about the possession of the property bothers you? Alternatively, if you still don't trust him, it must be something else. Maybe there is something else and you only find the trailer park an easy peg to hang your hat on.

    I can think of many other reasons why one might dislike or distrust a politician, but I really would need you to explain this reason to me.

  51. #51

    Default Albertans access $1.7M from housing fund

    Albertans access $1.7M from housing fund

    Alexandra Zabjek, edmontonjournal.com
    Published: Tuesday, June 26, 2007


    The provincial government has handed out nearly $1.7 million to Alberta households since it launched a Homeless and Eviction Prevention Fund six weeks ago, but critics say the fund's management still falls short.

    Premier Ed Stelmach announced the creation of the $7-million emergency fund in April to help tenants facing eviction and those trying to scrape together damage deposits that would secure their spot in a home.

    The fund was part of a package of initiatives created to help ease Alberta's housing crunch.

    "If they have limited resources and are at risk of losing their house because of rent increases, or they need help to establish a home, they just need to call our offices," said Jason Maloney from the provincial ministry of Employment, Immigration and Industry. "That's more or less it."

    In the Edmonton area, provincial staff granted 570 requests for money to prevent eviction, and 43 requests for money to help establish new residences between May 11 and June 19, Maloney said.

    More than 2,000 individuals and families across the province received money in the same period.

    Those looking for help must provide proof of their finances to ministry staff, who decide on their eligibility for funding. There are no limits on the number of times a person might apply for help, although they may be referred to a different rent supplement program.

    "There are no income thresholds or asset thresholds," Maloney said. "It's all based on individual need, so anybody can apply."

    That approach is part of the problem, said Ray Martin, the NDP's housing critic. "It becomes very subjective if there are no guidelines," he said. "Depending on which office you go to or which social worker you deal with might determine whether you get it or not, and that's just not fair."

    Martin sat on the province's affordable housing task force, which initially proposed a homeless and eviction prevention fund as part of a larger package of initiatives. However, the fund has now morphed into a default support system for people caught in the middle of the housing crunch, Martin said.

    "The danger is that it becomes a convenient thing to say, Go there,' but clearly (the fund) can't help everybody who is in desperation," Martin said. "I'm glad that some people are being helped, but if we had dealt with things ... like temporary rent guidelines, we wouldn't have as many people applying."

    Among those who have received money from the fund is Jason Ritchie.

    The Edmonton resident had been waiting for a decision from the Workers' Compensation Board regarding a back injury when he received an eviction notice in June for falling one month behind in his rent. He received $461 from the fund. "It sure saved my bacon, I'll tell you," said Ritchie, who shares a townhouse in the city's north end. "I had to show my doctor's letters, my eviction notice ... my bank statements. And that was pretty much it."

    The 33-year-old former carpenter and cook had been off work since April 2006. Ritchie's savings are "pretty much all gone," and he is still waiting to determine how he will pay his rent during the rest of the summer.

    [email protected]

    © Edmonton Journal 2007

    --30--

  52. #52

    Default Homeless Edmontonians fighting to be heard

    Homeless Edmontonians fighting to be heard
    Demonstrating at Legislature Wednesday


    Tue, June 26, 2007
    By NICKI THOMAS, SPECIAL TO SUN MEDIA


    Homeless Edmontonians will be storming the steps of the Legislature at noon Wednesday in the hopes of making themselves heard.

    Pedro Schultz, an advocate for the homeless and self-proclaimed street pastor, said the event is for the homeless and the people that care about them.

    “All people who demand affordable housing are asked to come,” he said.

    Schultz has been planning the event since groups of homeless people were evicted from provincial land behind the Bissell Centre at the end of last month.

    “The homeless haven’t ever been united, working together on their cause, because a lot of them have warrants or are scared of the police,” he said at the time.

    In the month since the eviction, it appears some organization has taken place.

    Schultz said there are about a hundred flyers for the event posted around town and he expects up to 200 people to show up.

    He will be presenting three demands at the rally – that 25% of new developments be designated affordable housing, that rent control be implemented in Alberta and that 1% of federal and provincial budgets be set aside for affordable housing.

    The event is also an opportunity to collect necessities for those living on the streets, like blankets and tents.

    Food for the event, like sandwiches and fruit, would be appreciated as well as non-perishable items that people could take with them, Schultz said.

    --30--

  53. #53

    Default Home for the homeless

    Home for the homeless

    The Edmonton Journal
    Published: Wednesday, June 27, 2007


    I have a temporary solution to the homeless problem in the city. Edmonton should do what New Orleans did to house the victims of hurricane Katrina. We should open Rexall Place for the homeless and set up cots for them to sleep on. There's running water and washrooms there. It would be a giant homeless shelter when no events are being held there.

    But I don't think the government would go for this. To see such a large number of disadvantaged people in one place would draw attention to a problem that's not supposed to exist in prosperous Alberta.

    T.G. MacPhail, Sherwood Park

    © The Edmonton Journal 2007

    --30--

  54. #54

    Default Province should open parks to the homeless: street pastor

    Province should open parks to the homeless: city street pastor

    Wed, June 27, 2007
    Edmonton Sun


    An Edmonton street pastor who works with the homeless wants the Alberta government to open provincial parks to people who have no place else to live.

    Pedro Shultz says the number of homeless people in Alberta’s major cities has reached a crisis level, so immediate government action is needed.

    Shultz says there are 2,600 homeless people in Edmonton, many living in tents and makeshift shelters.

    Shultz was speaking at a homeless rally in front of the legislature that drew about 50 students, politicians and political activists.

    The Alberta government made housing a top priority after Ed Stelmach became premier in January, but later rejected rent controls — a key recommendation from a government-appointed task force.

    A government spokesman says the province set aside $100 million last year to help 13,000 families struggling to find a place to live and now plans to spend $285 million on affordable housing projects.

    --30--

  55. #55

    Default Vote Homeless

    Vote Homeless
    Rally calls for affordable housing for province's 2,600 homeless


    Amanda Ferguson, edmontonjournal.com
    Published: Wednesday, June 27, 2007


    About 100 people gathered today on the steps of the Alberta legislature to call for more affordable housing and give the province's estimated 2,600 homeless a chance to get off the street.

    The Vote for the Homeless Rally drew homeless people from past and present, as well as a variety of social service workers and volunteers who see the affects of skyrocketing rent prices daily.

    The event was organized by Albertans Demanding Affordable Housing and self-proclaimed street pastor Pedro Schultz.

    Protesters held signs saying "Homes for all, equality for all" and "Less condos, more homes" and marched around the grounds before stopping to hear speeches from homeless advocates and those living on the street.

    "The premier could ensure that there are 1,000 places for people next week," Schultz said. "It's very frustrating. Some of those people are working every day and can't afford a damage deposit and rent to be able to get a place if they find one. And there's more people becoming homeless because of the rental situation right now. There is no excuse for that. This problem has been around for years and it's getting more serious."

    The Albertans Demanding Affordable Housing were asking the province for rent controls, that 25 per cent of new development be allocated for affordable housing, and that one per cent of the federal and provincial budget be used to develop more low-cost housing.

    Diane Wood, 45, a panhandler who has been living on Edmonton streets for seven years, told the crowd her alcoholism and high rents have left her and her partner Chris with no place to live.

    "I would like to have a home," Wood said. "We live day-by-day by selling the Street News or panhandling in order to survive."

    It's a story Don New is familiar with. He was homeless for two years 20 years ago and still has friends on the street.

    "I just feel sad for all these people because most of them have addictions," he said. "There's a lot of people on the street and there will be a lot more. If the province wants people off the street, they should fill up the empty buildings with affordable places to live."

    [email protected]

    --30--

  56. #56

    Default

    Here is the link to the thread "Homeless for only $ 4.5 billion a year"...

    http://www.connect2edmonton.ca/forum...808&highlight=

  57. #57

    Default Housing group told to pay taxes

    Housing group told to pay taxes
    Non-profit society operates 14 low-cost projects


    Susan Ruttan, edmontonjournal.com
    Published: Wednesday, June 27, 2007


    A local non-profit housing group is reeling after being told it must start paying property taxes on its new projects.

    "This is the worst crisis we've faced in decades," said George Kelly, co-ordinator of the Edmonton Inner City Housing Society.

    The society operates 14 low-cost housing projects where more than 350 people live. The charity has always been exempt from paying municipal taxes.

    It was shocked this year to be told it must now pay taxes of $9,000 a year on its two newest buildings. Both are seven-unit row houses that are rented to low-income tenants.

    Several hundred other non-profit housing projects in Edmonton will face a similar review of their tax-exempt status in coming months.

    Changes to provincial rules made in 1998 treat certain non-profit housing projects, such as those that charge rent, as taxable. City assessors have just recently started checking local non-profit housing projects to see if they meet the rule change.

    Projects built under pre-1998 rules will retain their tax-exempt status.

    Newer buildings, like the two owned by the Inner City Housing Society, may been rated taxable by city assessors, using the new provincial rules.

    "This makes it very hard to consider moving ahead and developing new projects," Kelly said.

    The society is seeking a special tax exemption from city council, despite the assessment change.

    [email protected]

    --30--

  58. #58
    Addicted to C2E
    Mr. Reality Check

    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Location
    Edmonton, Alberta
    Posts
    12,059

    Default

    About 100 people gathered today on the steps of the Alberta legislature to call for more affordable housing and give the province's estimated 2,600 homeless a chance to get off the street.

    I won't dispute the number but would like to know how many have been homeless for a week or a month or a year or two or ten and if they have been in Edmonton for a week or a month or a year or two or ten? That would quantify how much of the problem - and it is a problem that I am not trying to ignore or to minimize - is new and how much of it is chronic and independant of rental rates at any particular point in time.

    ... "The premier could ensure that there are 1,000 places for people next week," Schultz said. "It's very frustrating. Some of those people are working every day and can't afford a damage deposit and rent to be able to get a place if they find one. And there's more people becoming homeless because of the rental situation right now. There is no excuse for that. This problem has been around for years and it's getting more serious."

    It's easy to say "the Premier could" or "the Mayor could" or "we" could create "1,000 places for people next week" but Schultz neglects to lay out any kind of a plan to show any of us HOW WE COULD ACTUALLY DO THAT. And even if he could, even Pedro acknowledges that while the problem is getting more serious, it has been around for years. That would suggest that at least a part of that problem is systemic and not completely related to fluctuating house prices or rents and that even those mythical 1,000 places would not solve the real problem.

    The Albertans Demanding Affordable Housing were asking the province for rent controls, that 25 per cent of new development be allocated for affordable housing, and that one per cent of the federal and provincial budget be used to develop more low-cost housing.

    None of which would solve the chronic components of the homeless issue even if they were all implemented (without commenting on how their implementation would increase pricing pressures on affordable housing, not decrease them. It should also be noted that affordable housing and subsidized housing are not the same thing and using those terms interchangeably is disingeneous at best).

    Diane Wood, 45, a panhandler who has been living on Edmonton streets for seven years, told the crowd her alcoholism and high rents have left her and her partner Chris with no place to live.

    So Diane has been living on the street for seven years as "her alcoholism and high rents" have left her with no place to live. Seven years ago rents were dirt cheap and landlords were providing a host of incentives from free rent to moving allowances to tv sets and microwaves. Perhaps it's not "high rents" alone that have kept her homeless.

    "I would like to have a home," Wood said. "We live day-by-day by selling the Street News or panhandling in order to survive."

    After seven years, perhaps its not as simple as just ensuring the availability of cheap rents if Wood is to "have a home".

    It's a story Don New is familiar with. He was homeless for two years 20 years ago and still has friends on the street.

    Twenty years ago mortgage rates were so high people were literally giving houses away for a dollar or giving the keys to the bank to save the legal fees and the qualification for renting a house or an apartment was to be breathing. While I sympathise with Don's situation twenty years ago because it's a story I'm familiar with as well, it probably wasn't rental rates that created it.

    "I just feel sad for all these people because most of them have addictions," he said. "There's a lot of people on the street and there will be a lot more. If the province wants people off the street, they should fill up the empty buildings with affordable places to live."

    I don't believe high rents are the root cause of the addictions. If the addictions and their root causes are not going to be cured, then all the affordable places in the world won't make it a better place.

  59. #59

    Default Accessing Homelessness & Eviction Prevention Fund

    Accessing Homelessness & Eviction Prevention Fund

    Even if you don't need help right now, please pass along this info to someone who might!

    Homeless & Eviction Prevention Fund from Alberta
    Employment Immigration & Industry

    There is no reason to be without a roof over your head.

    Apply for the Homelessness and Eviction Prevention Fund

    ARE YOU?

    • Having trouble renting a place because you don’t have enough money for a damage deposit, first month’s rent, moving costs, or to pay for utilities or over due utilities?

    • Behind in your rent and have an eviction notice from your landlord?

    IMPORTANT! APPLY even if:

    • You have a job

    • You own a vehicle and need it for work

    • You don’t have identification – a worker at the Alberta Employment, Immigration and Industry office will take your picture and sign the back of the picture.

    Everyone’s situation is different.

    Alberta Employment, Immigration and Industry looks at the needs of each person individually.

    If you are behind in your rent and have an eviction notice then you can get help with:

    • paying your overdue rent

    • paying past due utilities

    WHAT YOU NEED TO BRING:

    Your eviction notice or a letter from your landlord and a current bank statement showing your account balance.

    ASK FOR HELP THERE IS NO DOLLAR LIMIT. THERE IS NO LIMIT TO THE NUMBER OF TIMES YOU ARE HELPED.

    If you need to find a place to live you can get help with:

    • paying the damage deposit

    • paying the first month’s rent

    • paying past due utilities so that you can get utilities (such as heating, electricity) at your new place

    • paying moving costs

    WHAT YOU NEED TO BRING:

    A current bank statement showing your account balance and (a) or (b).

    a. A lease or rental agreement or a letter/note from a landlord that tells how much the rent and damage deposit will be.

    b. If you can't get the amount in writing, get the landlord's name and phone number so that they can be called to check the amount.

    Where you can go to apply for help

    This is a list of their office addresses in Edmonton:

    Edmonton City Centre Alberta Service Centre - 105th Street Site

    10242 - 105 Street Edmonton AB T5J 3L5
    E-mail:[email protected]
    Hours of Operation:
    8:15am - 4:30pm, Mon to Fri
    8:15am - 9:00pm, Thurs

    Edmonton North Alberta Service Centre

    200 13415 Fort Road Edmonton AB T5A 1C6
    E-mail:[email protected]
    Hours of Operation:
    8:15am - 4:30pm, Mon to Fri

    Edmonton Northgate Canada-Alberta Service Centre

    2000 Northgate Centre
    9499 - 137 Avenue Edmonton AB T5E 5R8
    Fax:780 422 7398
    Hours of Operation:
    8:30am - 4:30pm, Mon to Fri
    Walk-in service only.

    Edmonton South Canada-Alberta Service Centre Argyll Centre

    6325 Gateway Boulevard Edmonton AB T6H 5H6
    E-mail:[email protected]
    Hours of Operation:
    8:15am - 4:30pm, Mon to Fri

    Edmonton West Alberta Service Centre 200 Westcor Building

    12323 Stony Plain Road Edmonton AB T5N 4A9
    E-mail:[email protected]
    Hours of Operation:
    8:15 am - 4:30 pm, Mon to Fri

    Edmonton West - Meadowlark Canada-Alberta Service Centre

    120 Meadowlark Shopping Centre
    15710 - 87 Avenue Edmonton AB T5R 5W9
    E-mail:[email protected]
    Hours of Operation:
    8:15am - 4:30pm, Mon to Fri
    10:00am - 2:00pm, Sat except long weekends

    The offices of Alberta Employment, Immigration and Industry can help you.

    Don't call the offices - Go to them!

    --30--

  60. #60

    Default

    Sat, June 30, 2007
    Letters: June 30


    Council members finally woke up and realized there's an election in October, so in a matter of weeks, they made public their initiatives for additional in-home suites, controlling rent increases and affordable housing. They also found money for repaving some streets and finally filling the thousands of potholes Edmontonians have been complaining about for months. Too little, too late. Come October we should fire this council.

    Peter Lefaivre

    (We'll get that chance this fall.)

    --30--

  61. #61

    Default Home for homeless: Immigration Hall to be redeveloped!!!

    Home for homeless
    Immigration Hall to be redeveloped for high-needs housing


    Alexandra Zabjek, edmontonjournal.com
    Published: Tuesday, July 03, 2007


    The historic Immigration Hall at 105th Avenue and 100th Street is destined to become a building to house Edmonton's chronically homeless.

    After years of uncertainty about the building's future - it was ordered demolished in late 2004 - the Immigration Hall was purchased by the Edmonton Housing Trust Fund for about $850,000 in mid-June. The organization is now asking those interested in renovating the building to put forward proposals for a redevelopment project.

    It will not be an easy task.

    The historic Immigration Hall, which has been vacant since the 1970s, will be transformed into affordable housing for the homeless.

    The building has largely been vacant since it closed its immigration services in the early 1970s. The walls are crumbling, it is covered in graffiti and the floors are wobbly.

    Rob Martin, a project manager for the Edmonton Housing Trust Fund, said the building needs "a tonne of work," including completely revamping the building's heating and electrical systems.

    The Immigration Hall has been designated an A-list historical site by the City of Edmonton, which means the Trust Fund will be responsible for keeping some historic aspects of the building. It will, however, receive some city funding to help preserve the structure.

    The Immigration Hall opened in the early 1930s and provided food, temporary lodging and settlement to thousands of immigrants coming to Edmonton and northern Alberta.

    The Trust Fund hopes that renovation work can start by spring or summer of 2008. The facility will provide at least 40 transitional housing beds for the city's chronically homeless. It will also provide support services.

    [email protected]

    Staff writer Alexandra Zabjek will have a full report on the plans for Immigration Hall in Wednesday's Journal.

    --30--

  62. #62

    Default Shelter project gives historic hall new lease on life

    Shelter project gives historic hall new lease on life
    Housing fund pays $850K for downtown building


    Alexandra Zabjek, The Edmonton Journal
    Published: Wednesday, July 04, 2007


    A group of homeless men sleep on the grass in front of the old Immigration Hall at 105A Avenue and 100th Street on a hot July afternoon.

    The men may not know it, but the brick building that provides shade is soon destined to become a facility for people like them -- the chronically homeless and those who need support services.

    The Edmonton Housing Trust Fund purchased the Immigration Hall for about $850,000 last month, sealing the fate of an historic building that has been vacant for years and was close to being demolished in 2004.

    Homeless people sleep outside Immigration Hall, at 105A Avenue and 100th Street. The city-designated historic resource has been vacant since the 1970s and narrowly escaped demolition in 2004.

    "This is huge, particularly if you're talking about the chronically homeless," said Rob Martin, who is managing the Immigration Hall project for the Trust Fund, a private, public and not-for-profit partnership. "The problem is way beyond what anyone thought it would be."

    On Tuesday, the Trust Fund asked organizations to submit proposals to redevelop the site. Martin hopes renovations will start by spring or summer of 2008. Once completed, the three-storey facility will have at least 40 to 50 transitional beds and provide support services for addiction, mental health and unemployment issues.

    It will be a sign of how the building, which has always supported people in need, has come full circle.

    The Immigration Hall first opened in 1931, providing food and temporary shelter to thousands of immigrants flooding into Edmonton. It closed in the early 1970s and has since been largely vacant -- save for squatters and its brief stint as an women's emergency shelter. The building became so dilapidated that the city issued a demolition order in late 2004 if it wasn't repaired.

    Martin said the Trust Fund recognized the Immigration Hall's history, but his organization was not specifically interested in taking on a historical project.

    "Our focus was that we need housing," he said. "That's always been front and centre."

    The Immigration Hall sits on the city's register of historic resources "A-list," meaning that it has been recognized as a significant historical building.

    The city has said will do everything it can to save the building or incorporate parts of it into new development, said David Holdsworth, a heritage planner with the city.

    While the Edmonton Housing Trust Fund is legally allowed to tear down the Immigration Hall, Holdsworth said the city can provide money and incentives to help preserve parts of the building as it is renovated.

    "From our heritage program, we'd look to say how can we help you to fix up the brick and the stone, to restore the windows, how do you want to redevelop internally, or put in an addition. That's not a problem," he said.

    Even with grants to preserve the building's history, however, renovations will not be easy.

    The building's brick and Tyndall stone facade is covered in graffiti. On the inside, walls and floors are crumbling. Dead pigeons are in several rooms. Martin suspects that asbestos will need to be removed and that the heating and electrical systems will need to be overhauled.

    He estimated that whichever organization wins the contract to redevelop the site will have to invest approximately $5-million to make the 7,500 square-foot building liveable.

    For the homeless men living around the old Immigration Hall, the new facility is seen as desperately needed.

    "I guarantee it will be packed every night" said Bryan, who did not want to give his last name. "We've got 3,000 people sleeping on the streets. We need the housing."

    [email protected]
    © The Edmonton Journal 2007

    --30--

  63. #63

    Default Landlords have too much power: ex-owner

    Landlords have too much power: ex-owner

    The Edmonton Journal
    Published: July06, 2007 1:51 am


    Having suddenly found ourselves on the renter's side of the fence (we sold our home and are not prepared to buy at this time), we have come to understand the degree to which ethics and fair play have slid into a black hole of greed and near abuse of power.

    Knowing already that Alberta tends to create laws benefiting business rather than the average person, it has been a real education as to how far people are allowed to go in this province before they are held accountable. Unfortunately, it seems that a landlord can do just about anything short of asking for a first born as damage deposit.

    Since when is it appropriate or even warranted to have a credit check done on a prospective renter? Surely it is clear that should a renter not pay rent, a landlord has the right to evict.

    As someone with a clear record (sorry, it makes me feel like a criminal if I rent and don't own in this province) why should I allow someone into my private affairs? Is this not a violation of my right to privacy?

    As the landlord has ultimate authority to boot me out if I don't pay, I don't believe I should have to give out my personal information. Every time someone goes into your personal credit information, your beacon score takes a hit.

    Renters, do not allow landlords access to information about your credit history. It is none of their business. Your job security and references should be more than enough.

    Considering the escalating cost of renting, damage deposits have become very high. To give such a substantial amount only to have it held in trust indefinitely at a substandard rate of interest is unseemly. As well, renters should try to get it back at the end of their tenancy. Landlords seem to come up with a multitude of reasons why they need to use these deposits. Theft on a grand scale is happening here.

    This boom is so wonderful. Funny how I am not laughing.

    Sandra Saturley, Edmonton

    © The Edmonton Journal 2007

    -30-

  64. #64

    Default Eviction with little notice

    Eviction with little notice
    MLA stands behind Edmontonian who was sent packing unlawfully


    Fri, July 6, 2007
    By NICKI THOMAS, SPECIAL TO SUN MEDIA


    As the housing crunch continues, NDP MLA Ray Martin is taking action on behalf of one squeezed-out Edmonton renter.

    Dania Kochan, a 24-year-old social worker and part-time student, received an eviction notice June 26 stating she had to be out by July 31.

    “I was completely shocked,” she said, adding that she also felt angry at being booted out without the required three months notice.

    She explained that although her one-year lease had expired June 1, she and the building manager had a mutual agreement that she could continue to rent on a month-to-month basis.

    But Kochan’s landlord, Limak Investments Inc., had already filed a condominium plan for several units in the building – at 10240 122 St. in Oliver – on May 8.

    When she confronted her landlord about the eviction, he told her he just didn’t make enough money renting the apartment out for $625 a month.

    Unsure of what to do about her situation, Kochan called a friend who works in the NDP constituency office and asked for help.

    Martin said tenants often accept evictions, believing that’s just the way things go.

    But Kochan’s eviction was unlawful, said Martin, and he called on the government to enforce penalties against landlords who violate tenants’ rights.

    Tenants entitled to a year's notice

    Under the Residential Tenancies Act, tenants are entitled to a year’s notice if their rental space is going to be converted to a condominium.

    Glen Dlin, the lawyer for Limak Investments Inc., could give little comment on the issue.

    “It’s a matter of contract law,” he said.

    NDP staff contacted Service Alberta, the government branch that oversees and enforces tenancy laws, and were told that Kochan should hire a lawyer.

    It’s advice that Martin criticized, saying Kochan shouldn’t have to obtain legal counsel since it’s the responsibility of Service Alberta to enforce the law.

    “If you’re being forced out (of your home), how can you afford a lawyer?” he added.

    Martin said he gave the government an opportunity to look into the problem and is now bringing the issue to the public’s attention with the hopes that the government will be embarrassed into taking action.

    Kochan is pleased that something is being done and she said tenants need to be aware of their rights.

    But as for finding a new apartment, she’s searching the city.

    “It’s not looking good,” she said.

    -30-

  65. #65

    Default Put homeless to work

    Put homeless to work

    The Edmonton Journal
    Published: July 07, 2007 2:36 am


    What is wrong with this picture?

    It is reported there are some 2,600 homeless people living in Edmonton, many of whom we are lead to believe cannot get a job.

    Almost everywhere, we see Help Wanted signs in the windows of local establishments. Some businesses have been forced to close because they cannot get people to work. Other businesses are bringing in foreign workers because we cannot get locals to work.

    One has to wonder if our efforts to help the homeless are not misplaced. We already have facilities for those with health and addiction problems, if they choose to make use of them.

    It seems to me there are currently lots of opportunities for those unemployed to help themselves, rather than continually seek handouts.

    D.W. Smith, Edmonton

    © The Edmonton Journal 2007

    -30-

  66. #66
    grish
    Guest

    Default

    we've heard these narrow sighted and simplistic calls to put "them all to work" before. some people are just too dense to realize that a lot of people are not able to work for no fault of their own.

    at the same time, we hear reports of people who would love to work, but without a proper address and a phone number employers are not keen on hiring.

    this is where the city can help. with the blessing of canada post and a telecom company, we can set up some PO boxes and, perhaps, some VOIP phone lines (used more as a messanging service) as a donation to the homeless who wish to work. they will have an address and a phone number to provide to an employer and will be more likely to find something.

    It should be offered on a restricted term basis. after a few months of employment the person should be able to find accomodation and set up their own telephone number.

  67. #67

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by grish
    we've heard these narrow sighted and simplistic calls to put "them all to work" before. some people are just too dense to realize that a lot of people are not able to work for no fault of their own.

    at the same time, we hear reports of people who would love to work, but without a proper address and a phone number employers are not keen on hiring.

    this is where the city can help. with the blessing of canada post and a telecom company, we can set up some PO boxes and, perhaps, some VOIP phone lines (used more as a messanging service) as a donation to the homeless who wish to work. they will have an address and a phone number to provide to an employer and will be more likely to find something.

    It should be offered on a restricted term basis. after a few months of employment the person should be able to find accommodation and set up their own telephone number.
    You are right one of the biggest obstacles to the homeless finding SUSTAINABLE and ongoing employment is lack of permanent accommodation and reliable messaging service.

  68. #68

    Default Subsidy demand will only grow: minister

    Subsidy demand will only grow: minister
    Program that just started last month will help 1,500 people pay rent by September


    Kelly Cryderman, Calgary Herald; CanWest News Service
    Published: July 12, 2007 3:05 am


    A new $9-million provincial rent assistance fund is swamped with hundreds of requests for cash and will run out of money by September, prompting the associate minister of affordable housing to ask her colleagues to provide more than double that amount to keep the program afloat until next year.

    Yvonne Fritz said a newly created rent supplement program that began distributing money last month will have provided funding to about 1,500 Albertans hammered by rent increases by September.

    When the money was announced in April's budget, it was supposed to last until March 2008.

    "Rent supplements are immediate and they're able to assist people with staying in their homes," she said. "It won't wait for the next budget."

    Fritz said if she convinces her fellow Tories the extra infusion of cash is a good idea, the program could help pay the rent on a total of 6,000 units across the province.

    She expects the demand to become even greater in the months ahead, and said about $20 million in extra funding is needed.

    The potential for new money is little comfort for David and Ann Murray, two Calgary seniors who say the rent supplement program isn't working well.

    David, 69, is a retired heavy-duty mechanic, and his wife Ann, 67, is hobbled and weakened after battling cancer for the last decade. Their rent will go up $400 Sept. 1. After applying for the rent supplement program, they were told Wednesday morning they will qualify for $80 in monthly assistance.

    The couple says they will never be able to afford the $1,200 rent for their two-bedroom duplex -- plus utilities -- with their monthly net income of about $2,500 and only $80 from the program.

    They say the rent increase will force them to leave the city for somewhere cheaper. "That was a subsidy in name only," said David.

    "It's another situation where (Premier) Stelmach has promised things, but when it comes out it's a little dribble."

    The province's widespread housing crunch continues to be an issue for anyone who doesn't own their home.

    The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation predicted in May that Edmonton's vacancy rate will fall to 0.7 per cent this year. Calgary's is sitting at 0.5 per cent, and rents there increased by an average of 18 per cent last year.

    While a report released this week predicts that Alberta will need 400,000 new workers by 2015, many in the province say the cost of housing is pushing people to move away and discouraging other potential labourers from migrating here in the first place.

    In tackling the problem, Premier Ed Stelmach's government rejected temporary rent controls but has poured millions into rent supplements --which are meant to keep low-income individuals and families from becoming homeless by helping to pay their rents.

    In April's budget, the province's rent subsidy programs were increased to $33 million from $14.3 million.

    Of that amount, $9 million was allocated to the new program which provides the money directly to individual tenants instead of the traditional rent supplement system -- which sees cheques given to landlords.

    The move was made so landlords don't know the tenant they are renting to receives social assistance.

    Fritz said it's this program she wants to improve because it gives tenants choice and independence. She said the top amount that's been asked for is $600 a month.

    "That landlord does not know that that individual required a subsidy. And that's a critical change and it's important to do that."

    © The Edmonton Journal 2007

    -30-

  69. #69
    C2E Continued Contributor
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Location
    Edmonton
    Posts
    1,178

    Default Re: Subsidy demand will only grow: minister

    Quote Originally Posted by djgirl
    Yvonne Fritz said a newly created rent supplement program that began distributing money last month will have provided funding to about 1,500 Albertans hammered by rent increases by September.
    I don't understand how government subsidizing rent will help in the long term.

    It apparently does nothing to reduce the increase in monthly rent.

    It does nothing to reduce the landlords' maintenance costs and does nothing to reduce the tax bite on rental income and on property.

    Accumulating costs of financing, landscaping, building maintenance, legal, insurance, utilities, licensing, management, property tax, income tax, and who knows what other demands we make on landlords, how much of a $1,000 rent cheque is left as profit? Add the hassle and losses associated with evicting bad tenants and it's a wonder we have ANY rental units still available.

    Sensitivity to the needs of the tenants with government subsidies does nothing if we don't make it easier to be a landlord.

  70. #70

    Default Credit check a reasonable request

    Credit check a reasonable request

    The Edmonton Journal
    Published: July 13, 2007 2:21 am


    Re: "Landlords have too much power: ex-owner," by Sandra Saturley, Letters, July 6.

    Sandra Saturley bemoans the right of landlords to evict tenants and the fact that many landlords demand prospective tenants' credit reports.

    As a landlord, I take pride in providing excellent standards of housing to my tenants. In return, I expect the tenant to pay his rent as punctually as I have to pay the bank for the mortgage.

    Owners are taking a risk in renting out their properties to strangers.

    However, the process of evicting a non-paying tenant is a tedious one and can take months to be effected, particularly if the courts grant so-called "Cinderella" orders that give the tenant extra time to come up with the payments.

    While the bank continues (rightly so) to insist on punctual mortgage payments, the landlord spends valuable time and money to employ a bailiff to enforce the eviction order, if the tenant still hasn't paid the rent by the deadline set in the Cinderella order.

    More than once I have had to spend more of my time and money to restore the property to its original state after the tenant has finally moved out.

    I have now made it a habit of asking for both a credit report and references from previous landlords, after having been burned twice by renters who evidently did not only consider the tenancy agreement as not binding upon them, but also didn't bother to keep the condition of the premises to the same standard that they found when they moved in.

    Is this an invasion of privacy, as Saturley contends, or is it due diligence required before entering into a contract with a stranger?

    For me, this due diligence buys me peace of mind and thus forms a sort of insurance against renters who can't be bothered to be held to their word or the contract they signed.

    As usual, it is the black sheep who spoil it for everyone.

    And if I have to bare my entire finances to the bank when I apply for a mortgage, why is too much to ask for a credit report before signing the contract?

    Dr. Oliver Seifert, Edmonton

    Banks, car dealers do it

    The thrust of Sandra Saturley's argument seems to be that landlords should be denied the right to obtain a credit check on prospective tenants since the landlord has the right to evict, should a renter not pay the rent.

    Saturley asks "since when is it appropriate or even warranted to have a credit check done on a prospective renter?"

    Whenever a landlord is forced to evict a tenant he or she loses at least one month's rent by the time proper notice is given, the tenant vacates, and the unit is cleaned and re-rented.

    Even if a security deposit has been obtained equal to a full month's rent, the landlord is still out the costs of cleaning, repairing, advertising and re-renting.

    Frequently, delinquent tenants do significant damage to the appliances, flooring, and walls of a unit. A simple check of a prospective tenant's credit report reveals whether or not the applicant has a track record of keeping promises.

    Given that a rental unit in Edmonton is likely to have a market value of well over $50,000 and that the unit will be turned over to a tenant for their exclusive use and enjoyment during the lease period, it would be a foolish landlord indeed who hands over care and control of such an asset to someone without checking their credit worthiness.

    Banks have the right to foreclose, but no one suggests they should grant a mortgage without a credit check.

    Car dealerships have the right to repossess, but no one suggests they should lease you a car without a credit check.

    Why should landlords be treated differently?

    As a landlord of more than 30 years who has cleaned up and repaired the damage caused by many delinquent tenants, I still view the vast majority of our tenants as valued clients with whom we have a fair and equitable business relationship.

    We have that excellent client base because we have carefully chosen those good tenants, after a prudent check of the accuracy of the statements made on their lease applications.

    Les L. Petry, Edmonton

    Eviction isn't easy

    I can appreciate Sandra Saturley's frustration as a tenant and she raises some very valid concerns.

    As a landlord, I suggest she obtain a copy of the Residential Tenancies Act and become informed. This may help her understand that we don't make the rules, but we are obligated to adhere to them.

    She will discover what can and cannot be charged for a security deposit, how long it can be held and the interest we are to calculate, according to regulations.

    As she suggests, job security and references may be enough. However, these are not always accurate, may change quickly and can actually misrepresent the real situation.

    Saturley makes it sound so simple to just evict a tenant; trust me, it's anything but. It would be heart wrenching.

    I'm truly sorry Saturley feels this way, but please don't paint all of us with the same brush. There are landlords who really do have the tenant's best interest at heart, believe in teamwork, mutual respect and honesty. And yes, we sometimes get royally hosed by a tenant because of it, but we keep the faith. I hope Saturley can keep the faith too, because we are out there.

    Angela Patterson, Grande Prairie

    Economics 101

    A few years ago, just before Christmas, our tenant told us that if we didn't lower the rent they would move. So we lowered the rent. Our expenses were $300 more a month than we were receiving in rent.

    After owning the property for three years, we found our pockets were empty.

    We decided that we could no longer hang on to a rental property that was losing so much every month.

    When times are tough and the rental market is down there, the only options landlords have are to hold on and hope the market goes up, or to sell for less than they paid.

    If they hold on, they can end up dipping into their paycheque, savings, RRSPs and then start on their credit cards. Then they hope the tenants pay every month and don't wreck the place, because now there is not much left on the credit card to pay for those expenses.

    We decided to sell. We put a rent-to-own ad in the paper and had a lot of calls. The buyers did not need a down payment. They did not need to qualify.

    We wanted $3,000 down and were willing to take payments of $50 per month for five years. This meant we would not recover all the money we put in.

    No one wanted the property because the rents in the area were $550 per month and our mortgage, taxes, insurance and condo fees came out to $850 per month. Buyers were not willing to pay $300 per month more than current rents to own their own place.

    We told callers that rents were not going to stay at $550 per month forever. They would eventually rise to the amount of the mortgage payments. In time, the mortgage ends up being lower than rents. One of the main reasons people buy is because they know rents are not going to stay low forever.

    As it turned out, a landlord bought it. He saw the potential and was willing to take the risk of not knowing when the market would change.

    We have all had missed opportunities. The ones who benefit are the ones who learn from them. You make your own luck, so the next time an opportunity knocks on your door, take action.

    Carol Torpe, vice-president,
    444-HOME, St. Albert


    © The Edmonton Journal 2007

    -30-

  71. #71

    Default Campgrounds feeling housing pinch

    Campgrounds feeling housing pinch

    Fri, July 13, 2007
    By GLENN KAUTH, SUN MEDIA


    Vacancies at local campgrounds are rare this summer as skyrocketing rents send the working poor into their trailers to live, park operators say.

    At the Shakers Acres Banquet Hall and RV Park at 215 Street and 103 Avenue, assistant manager Tammy Durning said long-term residents fill only 10% of the 200 camping spots. But that's only because staff limit the number of spaces available to people wanting to stay for a month or more.

    "If we were to allow more, we could fill the entire park," she said yesterday.

    Durning, who estimates the park has turned away 15 people without a home this month, said the demand comes from both newcomers to the city and long-time residents who can no longer afford rents in Edmonton, where officials project the rental vacancy rate will fall to 0.7% by October.

    "It's getting worse. I'm turning people away that have nowhere to live," she said, noting her customers include one woman whose rent shot up to $1,500 from $800 earlier this year.

    At the Rainbow Valley Campground off 119 Street, 37-year-old Wanda is getting a taste of outdoor life after a big rent increase sent her family packing from their north-end apartment.

    Wanda, who declined to give her last name, said she had no idea housing was so expensive when she, her two kids and her boyfriend moved here from B.C. last year. The hope is to save enough money from her boyfriend's construction job in order to move into an apartment next month.

    Chad Rolling, 18, said he, too, was surprised by the high cost of living when he moved here from Sudbury, Ont., almost two weeks ago.

    He's one of the lucky ones, however. With support from his father and a job at a machine shop in Nisku, he's planning to move out of Rainbow Valley and into an apartment later this week.

    "It's the middle of the week, and they're fully booked," said Rudy Kadach, 46, a drywaller visiting his friend Clay Hawkes at Rainbow Valley yesterday. He used to be homeless himself and despite now having a job and a place to live, knows lots of working people staying in tents and trailers.

    One of them is a fellow construction worker who builds homes. "What an oxymoron," he said, citing the irony of the man's job and living situation.

    "The thing is people have jobs. It's just a matter of the housing. All the builders, they're not building rental units," Kadach added.


    Jim Hillman, the general manager at Rainbow Valley, said staff are seeing an increasing number of people appealing to stay longer than the camp's two-week time limit. "It's a real problem for us because we're booked and we've got to get them out," he said.

    While the majority of campers at Rainbow Valley are vacationers, the pleas for extended time from workers staying there are getting harder to turn down. "It pulls your heartstrings," said Hillman.

    -30-

  72. #72

    Default Rent assistance funds won't last long

    Rent assistance funds won't last long
    Edmonton's share of $9 million likely gone by September


    The Edmonton Journal
    Published: July 15, 2007 2:22 am


    Edmonton's share of a new provincial rent assistance program is likely to dry up by the end of September, says an official from the Capital Region Housing Corporation, which distributes the money.

    The city received approximately $2.35 million of the $9-million fund, which was created in April to ease the province's housing crunch. The money was meant to last until March 2008.

    On Wednesday, Yvonne Fritz, associate minister of Affordable Housing, said Albertans had been using the fund extensively and she would ask her colleagues for more money to keep the program running.

    In Edmonton, demand for the rent assistance fund appears similar to the rest of the province.

    "We probably won't be able to add any additional subsidies after the end of September," said Barb Sommerfield, manager of the Capital Region Housing Corporation's affordable housing program on Friday. "(But) for the clients already placed under the program, they will get their money for the full year."

    The housing corporation has given funds to about 120 clients already.

    Unlike other rent assistance programs, the fund provides money directly to recipients rather than to landlords. Those applying to the fund must meet the core needs income threshold, a set of eligibility criteria laid out by the province.

    Sommerfield said clients have generally been pleased with the provincial fund, but are concerned the money they receive will be counted as taxable income. "Our information is it will probably become a taxable income at the end of the year."

    © The Edmonton Journal 2007

    -30-

  73. #73

    Default Makeshift camp's numbers swell

    Makeshift camp's numbers swell
    Police count 67 tents, up from a couple dozen a month ago


    Elise Stolte, The Edmonton Journal
    Published: July 17, 2007 6:21 am


    Police say gangs have moved into a downtown tent city that has tripled in size in just one month.

    People have been camping out on a square of provincially owned land at 105th Avenue and 96th Street since campers were evicted from the Bissell Centre parking lot on June 15.

    At the time, police counted 24 tents in the open lot. Last Friday, they counted 67.

    Tents have mushroomed on a vacant lot at 105th Avenue and 96th Street in downtown Edmonton, with an estimated 200 people occupying 67 tents in the police's most recent count last Friday.

    With an estimated three people sleeping in each tent, the population swells to about 200 each night.

    "It's growing exponentially," said Insp. Brian Nowlan. "And when you get people together like that, someone is going to try to exploit them. Disorder is on the rise."

    Since police first noticed gang activity three weeks ago, they've investigated at least two stabbings and arrested several people, including one person charged with break-and-enter.

    Officers seized knives, swords, baseball bats and batons and have evicted six alleged gang members.

    Last weekend, police evicted a "brothel," Nowlan said, after several sex trade workers set up a working tent.

    Harry Baker has been living in the yard for six weeks, sharing a tent with his wife and working during the day for cash.

    "(Police) aren't doing enough to get people out of here," he said, describing the drunken parties at 3 a.m.

    Police walk through frequently and several security guards set up every evening, but that doesn't curb the drinking or gangs, Baker said. "They kicked out Red Alert but they still come back. It's just a control thing. They think they own the place."

    Marilyn Fleger, manager of community services at the Bissell Centre, has watched the tent city grow. City and provincial staff helped more than a dozen couples and individuals find alternative housing but the tents still multiply, she said.

    Fleger looked over the yard from the Bissell Centre's staff room balcony on Monday. The tents were clustered in small groups so friends could watch each other's belongings.

    Below, a woman pushed a man in a wheelchair while another man lifted a set of dumbbells and set them on a stand. Many people simply sat in the shade under tarps stretched over and between the tents.

    When only 15 or 20 tents were in the yard, the residents did a good job of policing themselves, Fleger said.

    Many of those left in the yard have addictions or mental health problems that make them hard to house, she said. And while she doesn't sit on the municipal and provincial committee responsible for the site, she expects everyone to be kicked out by the end of the month.

    "It just got too big. Too many people with too few resources, in too small of a space," she said. "But there are people who have been banned from everywhere. I don't know what's going to happen then."

    As the afternoon wore on, groups of people gathered at the entrances to several tents. Many didn't want to talk about life in the yard.

    Thorna, who didn't want her last name published, shares a four-man tent with her sister and son and has been in the yard for a week. She has rheumatoid arthritis in her hands and said her $1,350 monthly AISH cheque isn't enough to cover rent and expenses for her and her three teenagers. She hopes to find a new place by mid-August.

    The yard isn't so bad, she said. "You keep to yourself, nobody bothers you."

    [email protected]

    © The Edmonton Journal 2007

    -30-

  74. #74

    Default Calls to contro: Council split on whether to tear it down

    Calls to control tent city
    Council split on whether to tear it down


    Elise Stolte, The Edmonton Journal
    Published: July 18, 2007 2:35 am


    The provincial government added 200 extra mats at homeless shelters this spring, but most aren't being used, while a downtown tent city grows.

    "You can sleep (at the shelter), but then you have to leave with all your worldly possessions," said Marilyn Fleger, manager of community services at the Bissell Centre. "I would always pick a camp over that." The number of tents in a vacant lot behind the Bissell Centre has tripled since homeless people were evicted from the centre's parking lot on June 15. Police last Friday counted 67 tents, home to about 200 people.

    The 200 extra mats were added in April after wintertime emergency shelters shut down. They've since become permanent, but downtown shelters report they rarely fill the mats, Mayor Stephen Mandel said.
    This makeshift temporary camp for the homeless is located in a vacant lot in the middle of Edmonton's inner city.

    Fleger said the tent city can be more appealing for homeless people because they have more privacy and independence.

    Tent city gives people a place to leave their belongings. Plus, most shelters split up men and women. "Some couples really think that their security is each other. They're not going to be split up," Fleger said.

    The problem is, growth brings overcrowding and violence. Street gangs moved in three weeks ago, downtown police Insp. Brian Nowlan said. A raid earlier this month on one tent turned up $3,500 in cash, plus cocaine, several knives and other weapons.

    "You've got to put a limit to it," Nowlan said. "People should have a place to live, but I think if the city decides to keep the tents up, it should be regulated." Nowlan's officers try to patrol the area once an hour.

    On Tuesday, city councillors were divided about whether to let the tent city stand. Michael Phair said the site is too difficult to manage. "I think there will be no choice (but to shut it down)." Linda Sloan said shutting the camp down would just force people back on the street. "(The camp) is necessary, but it needs more infrastructure." Mayor Stephen Mandel wouldn't say when or if tent city would be shut down. "We're having another meeting next week and then we'll have a better handle on some of the options." [email protected]

    - - -

    RESIDENT PROFILES

    -Marilyn Bitternose, 46, and Fenton Papastesis, 28

    Marilyn Bitternose swears her stay at tent city will only be two weeks.

    She and her husband Fenton Papastesis were kicked out of their apartment for partying and letting too many street people and family stay, she said. "It was our fault. We've been screwed up by the boozing. But we get depressed and don't know what to do."

    The couple set up their tent Sunday, avoiding the Hope Mission in order to stay together.

    Papastesis has a good job removing asbestos. Bitternose usually works through temporary job placement agencies. "We'll get it together. In two weeks we'll be out of here. I'll find an apartment."

    - Jules Harkin, 39

    Jules Harkin won't sign up for temporary housing because police have a warrant out for his arrest, he said.

    He was born in Edmonton and has been living in tent city on and off for about three weeks. Four weeks ago he had a job laying asphalt that paid $150/day in cash, but "I just didn't go back," he said. "I'm just taking some time for myself. ... Like I say, avoiding the police right now."

    - Theresa Cardinale, 53

    Theresa Cardinale thinks her 31-year-old son still lives in Edmonton. But the six-week resident of tent city doesn't want to see him until she gets her life cleaned up.

    "I don't expose him to my lifestyle. I've disassociated myself," she said.

    Cardinale moved to Edmonton when she was 17. She wanted to take nursing at university and got a job as an assistant house cleaner to earn her tuition, but she never made it to university.

    Her son Troy was born in 1976, and she moved in with her first husband in 1982. He committed suicide in 1994, and Theresa says that traumatic experience stays with her. She was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2002.

    "Ever since then I've had a difficult time," she said. "The only thing that keeps me going is my spirituality."

    - Angel, 22 Angel says she's two months pregnant and landed on the street Monday night.

    She had a one-bedroom apartment in Bonnie Doon, but the rent doubled in May and she said her mom can't take her anymore. She doesn't want to give her last name because her father is currently serving three-and-a-half years in prison, convicted for possession and distribution of child pornography. She wants to cut the ties.

    Angel walked the streets Monday night and said she's looking for a tent to join tent city.

    "I'd rather have a place I can come and sleep," she said. "But I've been off and on the streets since I was 16. I'd get mad at my parents and run away."

    A better option is the Hope Mission, said her friend Tina, 17, as the pair filled water bottles at the tank on site. "Most of the people here are drug addicts," she said. "Come stay with me at the Hope."

    - Joe Desjarlais, 39 Joe Desjarlais got kicked out of Our House addictions treatment centre because he missed curfew by two hours.

    He's been living in tent city for two weeks but wants to go back to Our House when they let him. He'll complete treatment and take over guardianship of his five-month-old daughter, Zoe-Lyne, he said and pulled out a stack of photos.

    Desjarlais' wife died when she was hit by a car on the highway in March and the child is in foster care. "I'll get her back. I just have to prove that I'm off the booze," he said.

    - Darryl Strong, 41

    Darryl Strong has been on the street for 12 years and in tent city since the first evictions from the Bissell Centre parking lot.

    Strong last worked at a sawmill in Dawson Creek, B.C. but got in a fight and moved to Edmonton. Then he got in a fight here and ended up in the hospital with a metal plate in his head. "Now I'm not supposed to work," he said.

    "But I'm a survivor," he said. "The government doesn't give enough money. Good thing for all these food lines you go through."

    © The Edmonton Journal 2007

    -30-

  75. #75

    Default Rental relief being abused

    Rental relief being abused
    Social agencies, government insiders say tougher rules needed


    Kelly Cryderman and Joel Kom, Calgary Herald
    Published: Wednesday, July 18, 2007


    Social agencies and government employees say lax regulations are reasons behind a rapidly depleting fund meant to provide emergency cash to curb Alberta's housing crisis.

    That has led to some people receiving the government funding -- in Calgary an average of about $1,250 per applicant -- but never using it to pay their past-due rent, the Herald has found.

    The Alberta government is now doling out an average of $93,000 each weekday through its Homelessness and Eviction Prevention program, draining more than half the $7 million fund just two months after it came into existence.

    The initiative was announced by the Stelmach government in April to deal with provincewide rent hikes and the housing crunch that has accompanied Alberta's economic boom.

    The fund provides emergency money to people moving into a new home or those who might lose their home due to a rent increase or arrears.

    Between May 11 and July 17, the program distributed $4.3 million to Albertans -- with $1.2 million of that going to Calgarians.

    And while social agencies lauded Premier Ed Stelmach for delivering long-overdue cash to needy citizens, they also said the fund lacks some of the basic standards used by the agencies for their own programs.

    "To my knowledge, the agencies are more stringent, and that's based on years of experience doing it," said John Desautels, Calgary co-ordinator for the Canadian Red Cross's community housing program. "If I was running it, we'd have a little more stringent criteria."

    It likely won't be long before the province reins in the purse strings if the fund's rapid depletion continues, Desautels said.

    Those applying for the fund are supposed to provide a letter from their landlord demanding a rent payment, among other documents.

    The Herald obtained several letters, some written haphazardly by hand, used to successfully get money from the fund.

    The letters were apparently notices from landlords demanding rent payments, but some of them used fake addresses while others weren't written by landlords at all. Some of those written by landlords still did not result in the rent being paid.

    David Wah, who runs a building in Victoria Park, said a prospective tenant asked him to write a letter saying the tenant needed to pay $1,300. The man got the money, but Wah never saw it.

    "He never came back, he never tried phoning me," Wah said.

    Mahmood Ahmed signed a similar letter for a $900 rent payment for his Whitehorn property, but has yet to see the cash from his tenant.

    "I asked him: 'Did you get the money?' " Ahmed said. "He said, 'Yes, I got it.' He said, 'I will pay you later.' "

    One landlord who referred a tenant to the program got the rent money she was looking for, but she never got a call to verify the tenant's claim.

    "With the computer knowledge and word processors nowadays, anyone could fabricate," said Suzanne Wing, who runs a downtown building.

    Social agencies that have been running similar funds for years said they avoid those problems by calling the landlords to check the claims.

    Some also make the cheques out to the landlords to make sure the money is used for rent.

    "They should always phone the landlord," advised Keith Loewen, a housing outreach worker with CUPS.

    However, Loewen added, the provincial money is being put to good use, noting many CUPS clients who were legitimately receiving help before are now getting crucial, timely help from the government.

    The program, run by the Department of Employment, Immigration and Industry, is eliciting concerns from government workers themselves.

    Two government employees contacted the Herald to say they have been advised by their superiors not to reject anyone who asks for money, even if applicants don't have all the necessary documents. The Calgary staff members do not want their names published for fear they will be fired.

    "We're not going to get in trouble for issuing money, but we are going to get in trouble for not issuing it," said one worker, recounting an explanation for the fund's standards from a supervisor.

    The two workers believe many of the applicants are using phoney addresses, eviction notices or landlord names. Some of the basic criteria being ignored includes not demanding personal identification or bank statements, according to the workers.

    They said one-time payments handed out at their offices included one cheque for $4,000 and another for more than $5,000. They also said there is no limit on the number of times people can get money.

    However, the government said the housing crisis facing Calgary and Alberta necessitates a quick-reacting program such as this one.

    "Our position is it is better to err on the side of helping people out than it is to delay people and have people at risk of losing their housing," said Sharon Blackwell, a spokeswoman for Alberta Employment, Immigration and Industry. Blackwell said about 1,000 Calgarians have applied for money under the program. About 30 to 40 have been rejected for not having proper documents or because government workers believed the applicants had the means to cover rent increases or arrears, she said.

    Blackwell said people don't necessarily need ID because not everyone has traditional documents. Spot checks are done to see whether letters from landlords are legitimate.

    Calgary Currie MLA Dave Taylor, housing critic for the Alberta Liberals, said he's concerned the fund is being depleted while the government refuses to consider a broader program, including temporary rent controls, to get the housing crunch under control.

    "You have to be doing due diligence on behalf of Alberta taxpayers and making sure you're doling it out to the people who actually need it," Taylor said. "This fund was supposed to last 12 months. . . . What are they going to have to show for it?"

    [email protected]

    [email protected]

    © The Calgary Herald 2007

    -30-

  76. #76

    Default Alta. gov't orders housing fund audit

    Alta. gov't orders housing fund audit
    Program hit by allegations of fraudulent applications


    Archie McLean, The Edmonton Journal
    Published:19 July 2007 2:20 am


    The provincial government will conduct an internal audit of its emergency homeless fund after allegations that it is bleeding money because of loose regulations.

    Employment Minister Iris Evans said Wednesday she is concerned about the stories of potentially fraudulent claims, but believes the program is doing its job and would be surprised if the audit reveals widespread abuse.

    "I'm almost entirely sure that 99 per cent of these people are people that genuinely need the funds and they're probably horrified that somebody has come to take money that rightfully belongs to them," she said. "The vast majority of people that contacted our office have said 'I couldn't get money, why not?' "

    The $7-million Homeless and Eviction Prevention program was set up in April to help people left behind in the province's booming rental market. The fund was supposed to last the entire year, but is more than half gone after fewer than nine weeks.

    On Wednesday, the Calgary Herald reported that the fund is being drained so quickly in part because of lax regulations. The story quoted anonymous government employees who said they were told to give out money regardless of the applicant's documentation.

    On Wednesday, the Liberals asked the Auditor General to investigate the management of the program. Housing critic Dave Taylor said the mess shows the government was too hasty in implementing the program.

    "Their real motivation was to make an embarrassing situation go away, not to solve a problem," he said.

    Taylor renewed his call for the government to put in temporary rent controls to stabilize the market. He also called for incentives for developers to build affordable housing and a temporary moratorium on condo conversions.

    A spokeswoman for the Auditor General's office said they haven't received Taylor's request yet, but would consider it when it arrives.

    NDP House Leader Ray Martin sat on the province's affordable housing task force, which submitted a series of recommendations, including one for rent controls, to the government in March. Martin said the emergency fund was just one plank in a comprehensive housing strategy.

    "It's a mess," he said. "They're trying to show with this fund that we're compassionate, we care -- but it's kind of run out of control."

    The fund gives emergency cash to new-comers or existing residents who are changing homes and need a hand with the damage deposit or utilities. Applicants are supposed to show identification, proof of employment and proof they have limited funds.

    The fund can also help people who are behind in their rent or utilities. They need the same documentation plus an eviction notice or something showing they are in debt. According to the Herald, some landlords said their tenants got the cash but never paid them. Some letters from landlords demanding rent had fake addresses or weren't actually written by landlords.

    Lynn Biggs, the executive director of the Edmonton Apartment Association, said she hasn't heard from her members about such problems.

    Evans doesn't believe ministry employees need to check every single application that comes through the door. She hopes random checks her department is now conducting will deter anyone with improper motives.

    "If there's an attempt by people to take funds inappropriately we'll be all over it."

    So far, the program has given out $4.3 million across the province. In July, Edmonton has had 724 claims, compared to 637 in Calgary. In total, 5,219 people have received money from the fund. The government also has a number of other housing programs, including a $33-million rent supplement program.

    [email protected]

    -30-

  77. #77

    Default

    Edmonton Journal Venting
    July 19, 2007


    - Using permanently closed schools to provide beds for the homeless should work. After all, they put my kids to sleep.

    - My nomination for the next slum neighbourhood is the drab, unimaginative, high-density apartment complex being constructed near the Clareview LRT station.

    -30-

  78. #78

    Default Alberta will pursue anyone who ripped off rent subsidies:

    Alberta will pursue anyone who ripped off rent subsidies: Stelmach

    Thu, July 19, 2007
    By CP


    Premier Ed Stelmach says Alberta will hunt down and prosecute anyone who “ripped off” a new government program designed to help people struggling with monster rent increases.

    Media reports are quoting two government employees who blew the whistle on a program they say has few checks and balances, leaving it wide open to scammers.

    The whistle blowers say staff were ordered not to turn anyone away as cheques for thousands of dollars were doled out, quickly draining more than half the fund’s $7 million budget.

    Employment Minister Iris Evans has ordered an internal audit of the program and the premier is promising the results will be made public.

    Stelmach also suggests the province is prepared to add more money to the rent assistance fund as thousands of Albertans struggle to pay their rent in the province’s super-heated economy.

    -30-

  79. #79

    Default Hope for homeless

    Hope for homeless
    Many are talking about it, but are they willing to act?


    Mindelle Jacobs
    Tue, July 24, 2007, Edmonton Sun


    Pledging to battle homelessness is hip these days.

    In Canada, the 2016 Foundation hopes to eradicate homelessness within 10 years. In the U.S., President George W. Bush wants to get the chronic homeless off the streets by 2012.

    And the summer issue of the Journal of Primary Prevention explores a variety of strategies that are helping to curb the problem.

    The good news is that the journal is chock full innovative programs that have been shown to work. The bad news? None of the ideas are new. We know they can help put a roof over people's heads and we know they will save money in the long run. But politicians do not take a long-term view of things.

    Consider some alarming statistics from one of the journal articles. In Boston, a group that advocates for the homeless tracked 119 street people between 2000 and 2007.

    Those 119 people visited hospital emergency departments more than 18,000 times over a five-year period at an average cost of $1,000 per visit. And an astonishing 37% of them died during the seven years.

    "I dream of writing a prescription for an apartment, a studio, an SRO (single room occupancy) or any safe housing program, good for one month, with 12 refills," writes Dr. James O'Connell in the article.

    "After two decades of doctoring to the homeless poor, I believe that I could best improve the health of my patients by assuring access to housing and supportive services as core components of their treatment plans," he adds.

    PATCH UP

    We have this staggeringly expensive revolving-door syndrome in Canada as well, as sick homeless people show up repeatedly in emergency rooms and doctors' offices for a patch-up before they head back to the street.

    Everyone talks about how costly it is to properly house the homeless and provide a continuum of support services to get them sober, teach them basic life skills and help them get work.

    But it's much more costly, as the Boston study illustrates, to do nothing but quick fixes and then abandon the homeless to their dreary, drugged-out daily lives.

    Our jails, too, end up being an expensive emergency shelter system, notes University of Toronto economist Ernie Lightman.

    "It's short-term gain for very long-term cost," he says. "If you spend some money on housing them, you save a lot of money down the road."

    Psychiatric patients, who are often discharged from hospital prematurely, are the most problematic, he says. "They get screwed by the hospitals that want to get them out. They get screwed by the community that doesn't have adequate services ... and they get screwed by private landlords who exploit and abuse them."

    The guest editorial in the Journal of Primary Prevention notes that while there is an array of homeless prevention efforts in the U.S., they are modest in scope and not connected to larger coordinated strategies. Canada is in the same boat. There are dedicated people across the country, but not enough funding and no overall approach. This is no way to solve homelessness.

    The journal points to several obvious homelessness prevention strategies, including housing subsidies, support services, financial assistance for rent or mortgage arrears and a rapid exit from shelters.

    What's lacking, says the editorial, is the political will to tackle the problem in a sustained, comprehensive way.

    Homelessness is too complex an issue to eradicate completely. But we can give dignity to many more people if only our politicians made it a priority.

    In Canada, laments Lightman, unless the federal government gets back into the housing business, we will not turn the corner on homelessness.

    -30-

  80. #80

    Default House the city's homeless in trailers: advocate

    House the city's homeless in trailers: advocate
    Plan is similar to Toronto's strategy years ago


    Tue, July 24, 2007
    By ANDREW HANON, SUN MEDIA


    If Pedro Schultz had his way, Edmonton’s rapidly expanding tent city would be replaced by a shanty town similar to the one that got national headlines five years ago on the Toronto waterfront.

    Schultz, a street pastor and outspoken advocate for the poor, is calling on the Stelmach government to team up with local churches and social agencies to provide trailers for the dozens of people living in tents on provincial land behind the Bissell Centre at 10527 96 St.

    “These people are like my children,” said Schultz, who’s worked in the inner city for 15 years. “And they’re not legally allowed to live anywhere.”

    His scheme is similar to what happened in 1999, when the Toronto Disaster Relief Committee purchased some second-hand construction trailers and provided them to people living in tents on the shore of Lake Ontario.

    Local businesses, social agencies and labour unions helped insulate the trailers and supply the community with necessities like water and outhouses.

    According to Toronto author and street nurse Cathy Crowe, one of the committee’s founders, the makeshift community eventually grew to about 140 residents in 50 dwellings.

    “We did this without any permission,” she said. “It was basically an act of civil disobedience.”

    Tent City, as it was simply known, was razed in 2002 when officials at Toronto’s city hall provided the residents with rent subsidies. In the four years of its existence, it became a symbol of Canada’s growing homeless crisis.

    The Bissell Centre’s executive director said there’s merit to Schultz’s idea.

    “We don’t have the housing right now, so we need to do something,” said Shelley Williams.

    But it would only be a Band-Aid, she warned. The real solution is more housing and support systems to help people function normally in society.

    [email protected]

    -30-

  81. #81
    First One is Always Free
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Millwoods
    Posts
    65

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by djgirl
    Edmonton Journal Venting
    July 19, 2007


    - Using permanently closed schools to provide beds for the homeless should work. After all, they put my kids to sleep.

    - My nomination for the next slum neighbourhood is the drab, unimaginative, high-density apartment complex being constructed near the Clareview LRT station.

    -30-
    djgirl, I agree using closed schools does make sense as they are sitting there using resources, we may as well make use of them for something good. To retrofit them would occur faster than the 700 mobile homes from around the world. These would be safe and can be retrofitted fairly quickly as most of the structure is concrete. This would provide an address so that those that can get a job have some way of being contacted. Also it would allow those presently living in tent city the opportunity to get inside before winter. This would provide a location until the mobile home show up and also be a transition place for those that are waiting for social assistance help or facing eviction prior to the audit being completed on the Provinces emergency fund.

    This is one of the proposals I have as part of my campaign this fall.

    As for the high density apartment being built in Clareview if it is anything like the condo complex that went up in smoke in Clareview a few years ago, I would be very suspect that they would even be in the low rental area.

  82. #82
    C2E Continued Contributor
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Location
    Edmonton
    Posts
    1,178

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by qualityresults
    I agree using closed schools does make sense as they are sitting there using resources, we may as well make use of them for something good.
    ... and how do you propose we deal with the NIMBYs?

    You know the arguments: safety for the children; litter; drugs; unsavory; etc. etc.

  83. #83
    Addicted to C2E
    Mr. Reality Check

    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Location
    Edmonton, Alberta
    Posts
    12,059

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by dwells
    Quote Originally Posted by qualityresults
    I agree using closed schools does make sense as they are sitting there using resources, we may as well make use of them for something good.
    ... and how do you propose we deal with the NIMBYs?

    You know the arguments: safety for the children; litter; drugs; unsavory; etc. etc.
    unless you can "pick up and move" those closed schools, they're probably not a realistic solution anyway. That's not just NIMBY (I live in Riverdale and the "problem" is already in my back yard) but one of location and transportation. Those in need are not near most of the vacant schools and will not "move" to those areas in the city for the balance of the day/week because they are not supportive of their "life style" including the availability/provision of support services in addition to temporary housing. D don't see relocating two or three or four hundred homeless to the heart of Millwoods or Castle Downs as a realistic solution even in the short term.

  84. #84

    Default More to it than jobs

    More to it than jobs

    The Edmonton Journal
    Published: July 25, 2007 1:22 am


    Re: "Put homeless to work," by D.W. Smith, Letters, July 7.

    I find it discouraging to hear some of the ignorance behind comments made about poverty in Alberta's current economy.

    Far too often, I have heard the observation that poverty and homelessness would be solved if only people would stop being lazy and get a job.

    What these observers fail to understand is that one very important factor of filling out a job application is a permanent address, making it extremely difficult for a homeless person to be hired.

    Also, many employers, although desperate for employees, are still not willing to hire a street person.

    Most of the "help wanted" signs are not for high paying jobs. Even if a homeless person could get a job at a fast food establishment, their wage would not be enough to afford rent and essentials for a family. Sometimes panhandling becomes a more desirable option if it means finding shelter. Even construction jobs, which would allow a person to make a decent living, require supplies such as steel-toed boots, which many people cannot afford.

    The circumstances surrounding poverty are far too complex to be blamed solely on laziness.

    C.L. Grant, Sherwood Park

    -30-

  85. #85

    Default Taking responsibility

    Taking responsibility

    The Edmonton Journal
    Published: July 25, 2007 1:22 am


    This will not be a popular opinion but it is an honest question to ask. I am frustrated to hear so much about the tragedy of poverty, because it should not exist in a country like Canada.

    Canada offers everyone a good, free education and loans to go as far as they want to, academically or in the trades. So when young adults choose to waste it and to quit, who is to blame?

    It is their decision, regardless of all the adults, parents, and teachers, etc. telling them otherwise. They make their choice and then seem amazed that they are only good for minimum- or low-wage jobs requiring little or no education or skills.

    They spend their lives whining about being poor and expecting the people who made good choices, do work and are paying taxes to support them.

    With all the birth control available -- free if need be -- and despite warnings about the consequences of indiscriminate sexual activity, they go ahead and become single parents, producing a child that they cannot afford to house, feed, or take care of properly. They, too, whine that they are impoverished, and again, those who were responsible enough to know they could not support or care properly for a child as a single parent have to support them.

    I do not believe we, as a society, are helping irresponsible people by enabling them to continue in these lifestyles.

    People immigrate here from Third World countries, often from refugee camps with nothing but the clothes on their backs. They find they cannot use their professions or skills in Canada, yet they work at any job available -- often more than one job. Not only are many self-supporting, but go on to become business owners, taxpayers and responsible members of society. Now they, too, can support the "impoverished."

    In Alberta, business are closing because they cannot get workers. They are begging for workers and offering bonuses. Yet our welfare numbers, which should be nil, do not go down. Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped helps those who are emotionally, physically or mentally unable to work. Welfare was intended for people who could not find work, not for those who choose not to work.

    B.R. Hyatt, Sherwood Park

    © The Edmonton Journal 2007

    -30-

  86. #86
    First One is Always Free
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Millwoods
    Posts
    65

    Default Using schools for homeless

    It's unfortunate that there is the "not in my backyard' attitude. Similar to the argument I put up in the Habitat for Humanity forum, Not all homeless are drug addicts not all homeless, are drinking all the time.
    A lot can not afford to pay rent. Similarly, how many of your neighbours use drugs, how many of your neighbours drink excessively and you will realize that lumping all in one basket is not fair to all.

    You are right that some may not wish to go to where the housing can be found or put. That would make them homeless by choice, if the reason they are putting up the tent city is to attain housing they should also be willing to go where the affordable housing is not always can it be provided where you want. I now that not always is what I want available exactly where I want it to be.

    The services they require can be brought to them if they require it, to ensure that people are being responsible they must have a job, or if that is impossible due to disability then they must be in receipt of benefits. In a lot of cases and definitely not all, when someone is given the tools and respect, they become achievers.

    We have to start with small steps to the solution.

    One of the arguments brought forward is transportation, I don't know of many schools that are not on a transit route.

    It is just a suggestion that provides an immediate and available response to the issue, unlike any put forward by city council thus far.

  87. #87
    Addicted to C2E
    Mr. Reality Check

    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Location
    Edmonton, Alberta
    Posts
    12,059

    Default Re: Using schools for homeless

    qualityresults,

    one of our more diligent posters has been kind enough to advise me that you did identify yourself in one of your earliest posts as ron palmer and stated that you are running in ward 6. for not being aware of that, i apologise - you are not completely anonymous. a good thing when running for office.

    for those of us who have been on holidays or those new to the site or new to any particular thread or topic, however, my previous comments still apply - although hopefully they will not be applicable much longer?

    ken

  88. #88
    First One is Always Free
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Millwoods
    Posts
    65

    Default

    kcantor I can understand your question with regards to my anonymity.

    So I have added my signature so that I am not hiding behind an alias.

    The suggestion regarding schools is a reasonable one as it gives a solution which is readily available and does not have to wait for 3-10 years based on the proposals put forth by city council.

    These are buildings that are not being used at present yet our school tax dollars are going into them. So instead spending on dead buildings why not make them available for the homeless. It is not idle speak to attack from behind a anonymous namesake, it is a proposal to provide a solution to geta stable location that meets the requirements.

    To turn them into small apartments would not take much as most rooms have water to them and would require minor renovations to make them available.

    Yes they will not be the Fairmont Hotel McDonald but it is a viable solution. Is it perfect? no!! It is one direction to investigate as it seems the cavalry is mounting their horses and the tent city is about to be disbanded again.
    Ronald Palmer

  89. #89

    Default Plan coming ... soon

    Edmonton tent city 'unacceptable': Alberta housing minister
    Plan coming ... soon


    Mon, July 30, 2007
    Edmonton Sun


    Alberta’s housing minister says a tent city in downtown Edmonton where 100 homeless people are living is “unacceptable” and is not going to stay in its present form much longer.

    Ray Danyluk says the government will be announcing a plan in the next several days to deal with the tent town, which is located on provincially owned land near a non-profit centre for the homeless.

    Critics say it has taken the government too long to do something about the makeshift community, which has grown from a handful of tents in early June to about 70.

    Danyluk says the government doesn’t want to force people out until there are alternatives because that would just force the problem elsewhere.

    He says the government has been working on some of the concerns the site’s residents have with living in homeless shelters.

    He says some of the sticking points included whether couples can stay together and whether shelters can provide locked up locations for personal belongings.

    -30-

  90. #90

    Default City, province to shut down tent city over safety, security

    Tents to fold
    City, province to shut down tent city over safety, security concerns


    edmontonjournal.com
    Published: July 31, 2007 4:10 pm


    Tent city, a makeshift camp near downtown Edmonton for hundreds of homeless people, will be shut down due to safety concerns.

    The city, the province and inner-city relief agencies are working towards the managed closure of the site, located on a vacant lot near the Bissell Centre on 96th Street.

    People now living at the site will be required to register and be provided identification by the end of the week so they can stay on a temporary basis. No new new campers will be allowed.

    An unidentified man walks among the tents at tent city located behind the Bissel Centre along 105th Avenue near 96th Street.

    "New actions to limit growth of the tent city and solve issues related to use of shelters are timely and important," Mayor Stephen Mandel said in a prepared statement. "The city will continue to work collaboratively with the Edmonton Police Service, the province, and health and community and emergency services agencies towards a managed closure of the site.

    "Edmonton has a homeless issue, but camping in City parks and non-designated public lands is illegal, and is not a solution to this complex issue."

    Work has commenced on a perimeter fence and discussions are underway with shelter operators to jointly manage the area, provincial officials said today in a news release.

    New rules are being adopted top contribute to a safer environment. Twenty-four-hour security is now in place to ensure controls are maintained.

    No firm closure date has been set - but the site will be closed, officials said

    "Everyone agrees a tent city is not a viable housing solution," said Municipal Affairs Minister Ray Danyluk. "The province, the city and our partners in the non-profit sector have allocated valuable time and resources to maintaining the site while close to 200 shelter spaces sit empty each night. I understand there are reasons the campers are not utilizing the shelters spaces. We have identified those issues and are taking steps to address their concerns."

    Hope Mission has agreed to provide some space for couples and additional spaces for individuals with drug and alcohol addictions as of Aug. 1. Arrangements will be made to provide people living at tent city with storage space for their belongings while they stay at the shelter.

    "I am very thankful to the Hope Mission and our other agency partners for their valuable contribution to finding a solution," said Yvonne Fritz, associate minister of affordable housing and urban development. "I am looking forward to continuing our work together as we assist our most vulnerable citizens with addressing their housing needs."

    -30-

  91. #91

    Default More people living in city parks

    More people living in city parks
    Rangers can only shift squatters from place to place


    Alexandra Zabjek, The Edmonton Journal
    Published: August 08, 2007 7:47 am


    There's not much left of the makeshift camp in the river valley when park ranger Amanda Rode arrives on Tuesday morning: piles of dirty clothes, cans of soup, an empty bottle of Hugo Boss cologne.

    Rode came to this spot near Allan Stein Park in Riverdale about 10 days ago to tell squatters living here they had to leave.

    Like most people Rode encounters, these tenters were not hostile to her warnings. But that's no guarantee they won't set up camp in another part of the 7,400-hectare park.

    Amanda Rode, a city park ranger, surveys garbage and belongings left by people living in the river valley.

    All of them pretty much know the run-down because they've been talked to before," she says. The people in this neighbourhood will be pleased they're gone, she adds, but that isn't to say the campers won't move into another neighbourhood.

    People have been sleeping in Edmonton's river valley for decades, but the number and size of camps has increased steadily over the past several years. Last year, city staff cleared almost 500 campsites in the river valley, says park ranger supervisor, Darren Grove.

    It's a full-time job in the summer for one park ranger and one city staff member. They typically have 15 to 20 sites to deal with, most reported by the public. The camps are spread out as far as Rundle Park and Collingwood.

    The remnants of this small camp sit just a few metres from a bike path. Rode thinks six to 10 people were living in four tents here -- it's a minor camp compared to those found in Louise McKinney Park or near the Kinnaird Bridge, where a homeless man died this weekend. Rangers visit those sites dozens of times every year.

    "It just feels like we're shifting them around," Rode says. "It's not a problem that anyone has a solution to and everyone knows that."

    Rode found two young women and a couple when she first came to this site. She told them they had to leave and posted a notice on one tent, informing residents they were breaking a bylaw that prevents people from setting up temporary shelters in the city. People are given 24 hours notice before city staff might remove their belongings.

    Rode and her partner wear thick, black gloves when they sift through items left at camps.

    Needles are so commonly found that Rode's partner recently had a special container installed on the back of his truck to store them. They carry black garbage bags for items that will be tossed, white bags to store valuable belongings that might be reclaimed,

    orange bags for dangerous materials, such as items covered in blood.

    City staff who patrol the river valley know Edmonton's homeless problem is not something they can solve. But they also know that living in the river valley is not acceptable.

    "It's intimidating for a woman to be running through the woods and to see six people sitting around a tent and drinking," Rode says. "We've had few incidents, but it's a perceived threat."

    Rangers sometimes deal with people who have been living in the river valley for years -- they know them by name and say they are respectful of city bylaws. Younger men, usually recent arrivals to Edmonton, are often the most hostile.

    Rangers rarely give out tickets -- they know people wouldn't pay them. They rely on their people skills to convince people to vacate the camps. It usually works, but not always.

    Grove, the park ranger supervisor, says his department is considering taking a "harder line" with people in some areas. They are exploring the possibility of banning certain people from parkland, but knows that is not necessarily a solution to the problem.

    "Part of it is there's not a lot of good locations for people to go -- it's not as though there is an abundance of available low-income housing," he says.

    On Monday morning, one of four brothers living under the Kinnaird bridge in northeast Edmonton was found dead. Police said he had been in a fight with one of his siblings hours earlier. Autopsy results could be released today.

    [email protected]

    © The Edmonton Journal 2007

    -30-

  92. #92

    Default Councillor insensitive to plight of homeless

    Councillor insensitive to plight of homeless

    The Edmonton Journal
    Published: August 08, 2007 2:06 am


    Re: "Brothers living in ravine find sibling's body: Four camped under tarps beneath bridge," The Journal, Aug. 7.

    I was extremely upset to read city councillor Mike Nickel's comments regarding the homeless population living in Edmonton's river valley.

    Rather than focusing on the affordable housing issues that have forced these people into such living conditions, Nickel instead expressed outrage at the destruction and devastation the transient population is causing to one of the city's greatest assets -- the river valley.

    He iterated that the river valley is not a "housing project" -- a fact which I'm sure is more than apparent to those people who are forced to camp out in steep ravines with little shelter from the elements and no bathroom or kitchen facilities.

    When the city and province have not been successful at finding long-term solutions to either poverty or housing issues, I would hope that an Edmonton city councillor would be more sensitive to the issue of river valley campers, rather than brushing them off as destructive and unwanted.

    Sarah Nicolai, Edmonton

    © The Edmonton Journal 2007

    -30-

  93. #93

    Default Comments 'disgusting'

    Comments 'disgusting'

    The Edmonton Journal
    Published: August 08, 2007 2:06 am


    I was disgusted with the way Coun. Mike Nickel responded to the death of a homeless man, whose body was found in the river valley Monday.

    Nickel said his tour of the area opened his eyes to the destruction and devastation the transient population is causing to one of the city's greatest assets which "is not a housing project." Where is the concern for the people? Where is his empathy?

    No wonder the city still has done nothing to relieve this situation, and supply proper housing projects for the homeless.

    That way, Coun. Nickel's river valley can remain pristine, clean and green -- easier on the eyes.

    G.A. Teske, Sherwood Park

    © The Edmonton Journal 2007

    -30-

  94. #94

    Default Camped under tarps beneath bridge

    Brothers living in ravine find sibling's body
    Four camped under tarps beneath bridge


    Andrea Sands and Heather Schultz, The Edmonton Journal
    Published: Tuesday, August 07


    One of four brothers living under a bridge northeast of Edmonton's downtown was found dead Monday morning, hours after he got in a fight with one of his siblings, police said.

    Homicide detectives were investigating the suspicious death Monday that happened in a wooded ravine under the Kinnaird Bridge on 82nd Street, just south of 112th Avenue.

    Police won't know if it is a homicide until the medical examiner has determined whether the fight or something else caused the man's death, said Det. Bill Clark.

    All three brothers were questioned at police headquarters Monday.

    "My understanding is they have been co-operative and they are quite upset," Clark said.

    Police believe two of the four brothers got into a fight some time before midnight Sunday. During the scuffle, one of the brothers fell and rolled down an embankment, Clark said.

    "They thought he lost the fight so they just left him there and they found him Monday morning and he was dead," Clark said.

    "One of the brothers reported it as soon as they found out he was not moving and showed no signs of life."

    Police responded to the scene around 12:30 p.m. and used yellow police tape to block off the area where the man's body remained under the bridge. Police believe the dead man is about 30 years old.

    Clark would not describe the man's injuries.

    The death spotlights the population currently calling the river valley home, a problem that's growing exponentially, said Coun. Mike Nickel.

    "I think everyone needs to wake up to the fact that the number of people living in the river valley is growing," he said. "If they're in the river valley, we have to get them out."

    Nickel said his tour of the area with park rangers opened his eyes to the destruction and devastation the transient population is causing to one of the city's greatest assets, which he said is "not a housing project."


    David Kay, 32, was biking home from work just before 2 p.m. to his tent in the ravine when he heard about the man's death. Kay has lived in one of five tents in the ravine just west of the Kinnaird Bridge for the past three months.

    The full-time construction worker said he spoke Sunday night to a group of four men from Newfoundland who had been living under tarps beneath the bridge for the past week. Kay said he warned them at about 9:30 p.m. not to make a mess or use drugs in the area or he would report them to the park rangers who patrol the area. The men were drinking, Kay said.

    Kay said he and his tent-mates didn't notice anything unusual when they had coffee before leaving for work at 7 a.m. Monday.

    Police investigators were working Monday to determine the details of what happened and what the two brothers were fighting about, Clark said.

    Coun. Linda Sloan said the city is working to deal with housing crunch issues. She said people have been living in the river valley for years, and it's premature to make judgments when the particulars are unknown.

    "The only thing we can do is extend our sympathies to the families."


    [email protected]
    [email protected]

    © The Edmonton Journal 2007

    -30-

  95. #95

    Default Affordable no more

    Affordable no more
    Residents of government-funded housing complex fear for future after it's sold, turned into condos


    Jason Markusoff, The Edmonton Journal
    Published: Tuesday, August 07


    Tom Anderson is afraid he won't be able to find another place to live after Monarch Place, an affordable/disability housing project in Red Deer, was sold and converted into condos. His rent is doubling to $1,000 a month; his income is $1,050.

    In 2005, one year after a vehicle accident left Tom Anderson a quadriplegic, he found the perfect home at Monarch Place.

    It was Red Deer's new, government-funded, all-wheelchair-accessible apartment complex -- a 65-unit crown jewel in the city's affordable housing plan. It boasted wide doorways, hand rails, even room to accommodate his special wheelchair in the shower.

    Then the unthinkable happened.

    Affordable housing was transformed into hot condo property.

    The non-profit agency that ran Monarch Place quietly sold it this spring to a private developer, which converted the building into condominiums and resold them to dozens of private investors. Some units are now being flipped for profit.

    "There's no more handicapped housing that will handle me in town," Anderson said. "I'm kind of beside myself on what's really going to happen."

    His one-bedroom haven is listed for sale at $207,500. For a while, it was mistakenly described as "vacant for immediate possession." Last week, he was told that on Nov. 1, his monthly rent will more than double to $1,000. His disability benefits total $1,050 a month.

    Other Monarch Place residents -- many low-income, disabled or fleeing family violence -- complain of massive rent increases from secretive new landlords, and anxiously await getting 90 days notice to clear out so new condo owners can move in.

    Several tenants have already fled. Those left include the building's most vulnerable residents, with the fewest housing options available to them, say community support workers. Monarch Place constituted the majority of fully accessible, affordable units in Red Deer.

    A community-wide initiative, years in the making, Monarch Place opened in 2005 with a mix of low-income, transitional, and market-rent units. A credit union and other donors pitched in money, a church sold its land, and a local community board and builder planned to develop it.

    When the project became too large, the Edmonton-based Innovative Housing Society signed on as owner and operator. The society was formerly known as the Handicapped Housing Society of Alberta.

    It received a $1.3 -million federal-provincial government grant and another $500,000 from the city. In return, it signed a 20-year contract to operate Monarch Place for low-income families, seniors, and people with disabilities or in transition from homelessness.

    Innovative pulled out after two years, citing financial difficulties.

    At a public meeting in April, Mayor Morris Flewwelling called it a "betrayal." He remains baffled at how easily a non-profit group could unload a housing project developed with government grants, private donations and so many civic aspirations.

    Flewwelling said in an interview that the transaction was probably legal, but "somebody is making some quick money somewhere."

    It's the first time in Canada that a taxpayer-funded housing project like this has been sold to private developers.

    The province is offering a rent-subsidy deal, in hopes of persuading the new owners to keep current tenants. Critics, meanwhile, demand Alberta plug the legislative gaps that let this happen.

    Before Monarch was sold for $6.8 million, Innovative offered it to other Red Deer agencies and appealed for help to the provincial government, said Dave Haut, Innovative chief executive.

    With no apparent solutions, it was either sell or run a deficit and imperil his organization, he said.

    "I really wish there was something else that we could do. As a society, this isn't something that we like to see happen," he told The Journal. "Financial realities were such that we had no choice."

    As a non-profit group, he said, any sale revenues left after mortgages and grant refunds must go into its other

    Alberta affordable-housing projects. And Haut stressed he had no stake in Monarch's sale or new life as condos.

    Part of the financial woes stemmed from expectations that the city of Red Deer would exempt about $35,000 in annual property taxes, Haut said. Flewwelling calls that a "red herring," saying Red Deer had to refuse the request.

    For many, the secrecy around the whole deal is most frustrating.

    The mayor, MLAs and community groups only learned of the Monarch Place sale through tenants' rumours. Had there been warning, many in Red Deer say they could have saved the project.

    "We could have rallied around it," said Stacey Carmichael, a former Innovative employee who now chairs the Red Deer Housing Committee. "If there were

    really good intentions there, we could have found a solution."

    The numbered company that bought Monarch Place -- a subsidiary of Everest Developments Ltd. in Edmonton -- never told residents its plans for the complex. Registered documents show surveyors began devising the condo plan for the firm on March 11, four months before it took possession.

    Residents thought they'd get one year's notice before a condo conversion, a requirement the Stelmach government recently imposed. But 1327545 Alberta Ltd. legally avoided giving any notice, through a provision that lets it convert and sell units as long as it doesn't clear out the tenants.

    Many residents say they don't know who their landlords are. Haut said he has never spoken with the buyers.

    Richard Cotter, the Everest subsidiary's lawyer, said his client was unaware Monarch was an affordable-housing complex until after it made its purchase deposit and condo plans.

    In July, the company took possession and sold all units to condo investors. Rent increases and for-sale signs soon arrived.

    Tenant Shirley Schryer said her 10-year-old daughter panics when she sees paper underneath a neighbour's door, fearing the eviction notices have begun.

    "It's scary. The mental stress they have put on us -- all of us -- is totally unnecessary," the single mother of two said of both Innovative and the new owners.

    Schryer, who is on full-time disability benefits and arrived at Monarch from a women's shelter, will see monthly rent on her two-bedroom suite hit $1,400 in November, up from $650. Schryer has scoured local listings, but cannot find another rental that allows children.

    Late last week, the province approached condo owners to discuss terms of subsidy programs for the 18 remaining tenants who qualified for affordable housing with Innovative, said Cotter, who is negotiating with the province on the new owners' behalf.

    But he acknowledged that condo owners can choose whether to accept the subsidy program, or move in themselves and evict the tenants. He also tried to explain the secrecy.

    "You couldn't talk to tenants because you didn't know until this week what the provisions of the subsidy program were," Cotter said.

    Monarch's condo owners have no obligation to honour the affordable-housing arrangements. The rent-supplement offer is the province's best hope at salvaging the situation.

    "That would be the big option they would be looking at to keep some of the units still as affordable," said Robert Storrier, spokesman for Municipal Affairs and Housing.

    Attempts to reach new condo owners through their real-estate agents were unsuccessful.

    Innovative Housing exercised an exit clause, which required it to refund most of the $1.3-million grant to the province and Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, and about half its contributions from the city.

    City staff plan to rework future grant deals so projects must stay in Red Deer.

    The province will not be adding restrictions.

    "It would kind of act as a disincentive to private investors for participating," Storrier said. "This is the only one that kind of went astray that way. It's been a very successful program."

    New Democrat MLA David Eggen fears Alberta's white-hot housing market could invite repeats of the Monarch Place crisis. "There's no deterrent for these people that have assisted-living facilities from cashing in on the market right now," said Eggen.

    "It's hard for anybody to find a place these days. And for assisted-living, it's impossible."

    Anderson, meanwhile, is still hoping for government help, unsure where he or other disabled tenants of Monarch Place will end up.

    "When we walked into this building, we were told we'd be safe here for 10 years," he said.

    "We're pretty much screwed."

    [email protected]

    - - -

    MONARCH PLACE

    Suites: 65 one-, two- or three-bedroom units; 26 affordable/accessible, 20 transitional and 19 at market rent.

    Construction: Innovative Housing Society built it for $5.8 million, including $1.3 million in federal-provincial housing money, and $500,000 from the City of Red Deer.

    Opened: 2005

    Listed for sale: Spring 2007 for $7.2 million. Sold for $6.8 million -- about $104,6000 per suite -- to subsidiary of Everest Developments Ltd. As soon as the Everest subsidiary took ownership in July, it converted Monarch Place to 65 condos, many still occupied, and sold them all. Many new condo owners are reselling units, starting at $206,999, and/or levying high rent increases.

    Province hopes to offer rent supplements to keep tenants there.

    © The Edmonton Journal 2007

    -30-

  96. #96

    Default Alberta can't afford low income rental losses

    Alberta can't afford low income rental losses

    The Edmonton Journal
    Published: August 08, 2007 2:06 am


    The saga of Red Deer's Monarch Place apartments is a tale of lost opportunity and unbelievably inept housing policy that needs to be fixed quickly.

    It's not hard to imagine the shock of residents, many in wheelchairs and in rent-controlled units, when they discovered this spring that their 65-unit apartment building had been sold to a private developer, and when they subsequently learned their rental units had been converted to condominiums and sold to dozens of investors.

    The story's enough of a shock to taxpayers, learning that a project built in part with federal, provincial and municipal money has been fed to the private red-hot condo market.

    Wheelchair-bound Tom Andersen, who lives on a disability pension, says he found out his unit was for sale at $207,500 and mistakenly listed as "vacant for immediate possession." Andersen can't afford the new rent of $1,000 a month, more than double that charged under the affordable housing policy.

    The disruption to the lives of Andersen and other tenants is troubling indeed. So is the fact that these units are now permanently lost to the low-income housing supply at a time where there is a desperate shortage.

    There are so many questions. Edmonton-based Innovative Housing Society (formerly the Handicapped Housing Society of Alberta), built the development in 2005 and sold it this spring in a quiet deal.

    What were they trying to achieve? Why couldn't they make it financially viable? And how is it that the non-profit society could simply sell off units built partly with public funds for the designated purpose of assisting those on fixed and low incomes?

    Innovative Housing received $1.3 million from the joint federal-provincial housing fund, and $500,000 from Red Deer city. That enabled them to get a mortgage for the $5.8-million project.

    Municipal Affairs spokesman Robert Storrier says the non-profit society came to the department last spring looking for additional assistance but there was no money left in the Alberta-Canada Housing Fund that backed the project.

    Selling the building was only one of several options, said Storrier, so the department took no action. Surely it should now be asking Innovative Housing -- and itself -- some very tough questions.

    Ironically, the province this spring came with up with it own massive affordable housing program: $285 million handed over to municipalities. Storrier says the province is now actively warning municipalities to take steps to avoid the Monarch Place scenario when they start spending the new provincial money.

    Why not go a step further and write some regulations to better protect taxpayers' huge investment in this crucial area of public policy?

    There are ways to make sure affordable housing stays in public hands by writing conditions into a funding contract, says Susan McGee, acting executive director of the Edmonton Housing Trust, which has about 1,500 units under contract to various agencies and companies.

    The housing trust allocates government money to non-profit or private agencies to build the housing. Under its contract, a builder or operator who wants to sell a building must notify the trust. The use of the building cannot be changed without approval of the trust, McGee says.
    "We are committed to long-term affordable housing regardless of who the operator is."

    The province should mandate such conditions on contracts and make sure municipalities follow through.

    It's also high time the province closed the loophole in the condo-conversion legislation. Currently, tenants must be given a year's notice only if the landlord plans to evict tenants to undertake renovations.

    Condo conversion requires absolutely no notice if the tenants aren't being asked to leave.

    The Monarch tenants aren't the only ones caught in that jam. Hundreds of long-time apartment dwellers in Edmonton are too.

    If the province can't figure out a way to deal with the problem, the time may come when a temporary moratorium on condo conversions will have to be discussed.

    As it is, the Alberta government is like a sailor bailing out a leaking boat: it spends millions on affordable housing at the same time the province is losing thousands of moderately priced rental units to condo conversion.

    How do you get ahead of a problem that way?

    © The Edmonton Journal 2007

    -30-

  97. #97
    Addicted to C2E
    Mr. Reality Check

    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Location
    Edmonton, Alberta
    Posts
    12,059

    Default Re: Comments 'disgusting'

    Quote Originally Posted by djgirl
    Comments 'disgusting'

    The Edmonton Journal
    Published: August 08, 2007 2:06 am


    I was disgusted with the way Coun. Mike Nickel responded to the death of a homeless man, whose body was found in the river valley Monday.

    Nickel said his tour of the area opened his eyes to the destruction and devastation the transient population is causing to one of the city's greatest assets which "is not a housing project." Where is the concern for the people? Where is his empathy?

    No wonder the city still has done nothing to relieve this situation, and supply proper housing projects for the homeless.

    That way, Coun. Nickel's river valley can remain pristine, clean and green -- easier on the eyes.

    G.A. Teske, Sherwood Park

    © The Edmonton Journal 2007

    -30-
    so if mike had said that "the need to provide proper housing projects is not really that much of an issue because people can always use the river valley as housing project" would g.a. teske think he was more concerned or was showing greater empathy?

    sometimes the truth is the truth and whether one agrees with the politics of the speaker or not that should not be an issue. i for one think we should all be prepared to say that "the river valley is not a housing project" and move on to address the problems behind why it is being used as one without having to debate the truth of the statement.

    it is one thing to criticise someones actions or inactions as being without concern or lacking empathy but doing so for stating a fact seems to me to be lacking concern and empathy.

  98. #98

    Default Parks aren't suitable places for homeless: Phair

    Parks aren't suitable places for homeless: Phair

    The Edmonton Journal
    Published: August 08, 2007 2:05 am


    Edmonton's huge river valley may seem an inviting camping spot to the homeless, but it's not a suitable place to stay, Coun. Michael Phair says.

    "It isn't the normal camping where you go with all your equipment and food and you're prepared for it," Phair said Tuesday. "We're really talking about people who are making do out in the open. That is not good for many reasons, including health, sanitation, basic food preparation and storage, your belongings."

    Violence and theft are also issues, because police can't protect people who are hidden away in the valley, he said.

    There are emergency shelter spaces available for homeless people, he added.

    Doug Costigan, acting head of the city parks department, said city park rangers give campers 24 hours' notice to move.

    Boyle Street Co-op outreach workers work with the park rangers, trying to connect with people in the river valley and help them find a better place to live, he said.

    "We're trying to be as humane as possible," Costigan said. A nurse is available to deal with health issues the valley campers may have.

    A city committee on homelessness in parks meets regularly to consider strategies to handle the problem, he said.

    People camping in the river valley isn't new, Costigan said, but the problem is more pronounced this year.

    "They're popping up everywhere, even places where they haven't been."

    © The Edmonton Journal 2007

    -30-

  99. #99
    Addicted to C2E
    Mr. Reality Check

    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Location
    Edmonton, Alberta
    Posts
    12,059

    Default Re: Parks aren't suitable places for homeless: Phair

    Quote Originally Posted by djgirl
    Parks aren't suitable places for homeless: Phair

    The Edmonton Journal
    Published: August 08, 2007 2:05 am


    Edmonton's huge river valley may seem an inviting camping spot to the homeless, but it's not a suitable place to stay, Coun. Michael Phair says.

    "It isn't the normal camping where you go with all your equipment and food and you're prepared for it," Phair said Tuesday. "We're really talking about people who are making do out in the open. That is not good for many reasons, including health, sanitation, basic food preparation and storage, your belongings."

    Violence and theft are also issues, because police can't protect people who are hidden away in the valley, he said.

    There are emergency shelter spaces available for homeless people, he added.

    Doug Costigan, acting head of the city parks department, said city park rangers give campers 24 hours' notice to move.

    Boyle Street Co-op outreach workers work with the park rangers, trying to connect with people in the river valley and help them find a better place to live, he said.

    "We're trying to be as humane as possible," Costigan said. A nurse is available to deal with health issues the valley campers may have.

    A city committee on homelessness in parks meets regularly to consider strategies to handle the problem, he said.

    People camping in the river valley isn't new, Costigan said, but the problem is more pronounced this year.

    "They're popping up everywhere, even places where they haven't been."

    © The Edmonton Journal 2007

    -30-
    can't wait to read g.a. teske's comments on michael's concern for the people and his empathy.

    i'm sure it will be right there soon along with his analysis of what strathcona county should be doing to bring some more concern and empathy to help solve this problem.

  100. #100

    Default

    Phair is seemingly untouchable whereas Nickel is not...

    Not fair but it is politics.

Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •