Our View: Quality housing is key

Affordable housing needs to be more than simply cheap

The fact that we’re in a housing crisis in B.C. is obvious to everyone.

But just because someone has found a place to live doesn’t mean their troubles are over.

A dispute between tenants of a Langley housing complex and its managers is one of many that take place wherever low-income housing is found. It doesn’t matter whether that housing is subsidized by the government and run by a non-profit, or run privately by a for-profit landlord, the issues from the tenant’s point of view are the same.

Everyone deserves housing, but more than that, everyone deserves housing that is fit for human habitation.

There have been numerous stories from around the Lower Mainland, including Langley, about tenants dealing with mould, mildew, broken plumbing, torn carpets, holes in walls and doors, rickety stairs and more.

In some cases, doubtless the blame, or some of it, falls at the feet of the tenant. In others, it is simply a lack of will or money on the part of the landlord.

The worst case scenario for B.C. remains the grinding misery of those who live in single-room occupancy hotels in parts of Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, preyed upon by slumlords who let the buildings rot around their tenants, until the structures are condemned or taken over by the government.

In fact, the slow decay of marginal housing is a part of the homelessness and housing crisis.

When there are buildings falling apart and visibly decaying, it’s easy to say that they should simply be swept away.

But even if the new buildings are brighter, cleaner, better run, where do the residents go during the long rebuilding period?

–M.C.

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