City of Vancouver under pressure to make more pet-friendly homes available for low-income renters

cat-698593_1920Many people in the Lower Mainland can relate to struggling to find a place to rent when you have a pet. One group finding this especially difficult is low-income renters in Vancouver. Currently, a lot of subsidized housing does not allow pets. City Council will soon be considering recommendations from the City’s Renters Advisory Committee (just released on the City’s website). These recommendations aim to see more pet friendly units in subsidized housing.

Lawyer Joshua Prowse with Community Legal Assistance Society worked on developing this proposal. A housing lawyer, Prowse sits on the Renters Advisory Committee and provides legal supervision to the TRAC, Tenant Resource & Advisory Centre.

The motion calls on the City of Vancouver to look at why the City and the province are funding housing providers who bar tenants from having any pets, and what changes can be made when the city renews these contracts. “Pets offer wonderful companionship and play a crucial role in many of our lives, but for too many low-income renters, if you have a pet, you can’t find a place to live in Vancouver,” says Alannah Hall, a volunteer and spokesperson for VOKRA, the Vancouver Orphan Kitten Rescue Association.

Right now, more than 10,000 people in metro Vancouver are on waiting lists for subsidized housing – and many of these units do not allow pets.  Prowse says these pet restrictions affect some of the most vulnerable people in our society, people with few alternative housing options.  He notes other jurisdictions have taken steps to protect low-income renters with pets and it is time for our city to catch up and address this issue.

Prowse says he hears from renters who are asked to make an impossible choice, between having a home and having their pet.  He says upwards of 20% of pet surrenders to the BC SPCA (about 1,500 per year) are related to housing challenges.

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