DOWNTOWN EASTSIDE HOLDS FIRST EVER SINGLE ROOM OCCUPANCY (SRO) HOTEL TENANTS’ CONVENTION

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The prize for the Crummiest Cockroach Haven Contest, awarded to the Balmoral

Sahota-owned Balmoral, Regent and Cobalt Hotels named as Vancouver’s worst SROs in “Crummy Cockroach Haven Contest”

Vancouver, Unceded Coast Salish Territories, October 19, 2014 – Tenants from Vancouver’s SROs gathered today for an SRO Tenants’ Convention at the Japanese Hall in the DTES. With an aim to equip tenants with the skills to tackle issues ranging from illegal evictions to bedbugs, the Convention was the first of its kind in Vancouver.

“So many SRO tenants are living in completely inhumane conditions and under a constant threat of illegal eviction”, said Convention Organizer Chanel Ly. “This convention is about giving people the tools to make life more bearable in SROs, coming together to kick-start a tenants rights movement and working for more social housing.”

A conference highlight was the “Crummy Cockroach Haven Contest” award ceremony. The Balmoral was voted the SRO with the worst living conditions in the city by residents after earning 93 of 328 votes. The Balmoral was followed by the Regent, which earned 49 votes, and the Cobalt, with 21 votes. All three hotels are owned by the Sahota family.

“All three of these hotels have years and years worth of numerous complaints registered in the City’s rental standards database”, said Jean Swanson of the Carnegie Community Action Project. “It’s time for the City to enforce the Standards of Maintenance Bylaw. And it’s time for the City to impose non-profit management on these hotels.”

People who nominated the three worst hotels were entered in a draw for prizes. The convention ended with a march to deliver a cockroach-covered trophy to the winning hotel.

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“Ultimately, we need to replace SROs with social housing”, said Tamara Herman from the Carnegie Community Action Project. “But in the meantime, we need better standards of maintenance in SROs, measures to slow rent increases and protections against renovictions. Controlling rent increases, stopping evictions related to upgrades and making hotels liveable will help slow down spiraling homelessness.”

Conference workshops included an Aboriginal Women’s Talking Circle, Residents’ Rights, Tenants Rights in Chinese, SRO Organizing, a Bed Bug Science Class, Stories from Tent City, Making the Links: The Right to Remain, and Surviving your SRO Experience by Accessing Services.

Photos: http://on.fb.me/ZC0oZa

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