PEI

P.E.I. affordable housing group outlines priorities

The P.E.I. Fight for Affordable Housing Group laid out its list of objectives and priorities on Wednesday. 

Rental registries, permanent affordable housing units, and increased regulations

The P.E.I. Fight for Affordable Housing group wants a public and searchable registry for all short-term rentals licensed with the province, to help keep track of them. (CBC)

The P.E.I. Fight for Affordable Housing Group laid out its list of objectives and priorities on Wednesday.

The group is looking to use its newly outlined priorities in lobbying government to take action on what it is calling a housing crisis on the Island.

One of the group's chief demands is improved policy on public housing, including an increased investment — from all levels of government — in the creation of permanent, public, and non-profit housing options on the Island.

"If we're looking at a vision for Prince Edward Island municipalities over the next 80 years, that is the way to ensure that we have non-market housing in our communities for future generations," said Rosalind Waters, a member of the advocacy group.

New rules

The group is asking that municipalities establish rules, which would set aside 25 to 30 per cent of all newly built units and re-purpose old government buildings for affordable housing, according to a release.   

The organization is also hoping to create a renter's registry, which would give tenants access to information on past rent amounts and increases for buildings, the release said. 

As of now, rent on the Island can only be increased every 12 months, though the group alleges landlords are getting around this rule by getting tenants to leave and then putting up the rent.

I know it's hard for government to monitor every single listing, but if neighbours can get involved and kind of help stabilize their communities a little bit then maybe that way we can reduce the number of unlicensed listings that are there.— Aimee Power, P.E.I. Fight for Affordable Housing

The group also has its sights on establishing greater penalties for landlords who don't comply with rules and regulations around building maintenance and evictions on the basis of renovations.

"If a landlord does receive permission from the rentals board to evict on the basis of renovations or landlord's own use and then the landlord doesn't carry out those plans then there must be penalties," Waters said. 

The document also said, tenants in these circumstances should be able to sue their landlords for costs incurred as a result of the move, including compensation for pain and suffering.

Short-term rentals 

Taking it one step further, the advocacy group has plans to create its own housing survey in the hopes of gathering more data to present to government in the coming months. 

The group also reiterated its stance on short-term rentals — that they should be better regulated and only allowed in a landlord's primary residence. It also wants a public and searchable registry for all short-term rentals licensed with the province, to help keep track of them. 

'If a landlord does receive permission from the rentals board to evict on the basis of renovations or landlord's own use and then the landlord doesn't carry out those plans then there must be penalties,' says Rosalind Waters, a member of the advocacy group. (Natalia Goodwin/CBC)

"I know it's hard for government to monitor every single listing, but if neighbours can get involved and kind of help stabilize their communities a little bit then maybe that way we can reduce the number of unlicensed listings that are there," said Aimee Power, with the group. 

Along with its other priorities, the group also wants to ensure Islanders living with disabilities have access to affordable housing. 

In the coming weeks, the P.E.I. Fight for Affordable Housing Group is hoping to meet with the Department of Social Development and Housing to discuss next steps.  

In the meantime, the group has plans to set up a tent city on Saturday in Connaught Square in Charlottetown, to draw attention to the issue of affordable housing.

More P.E.I. news

With files from Natalia Goodwin

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