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Rental Protections & Affordable Housing Tenants

Leif Gregersen is a local author, poet, and Wellness Network facilitator.
Photo courtesy of Leif G.

When the new rental protections were announced, Leif shared the following statement on what these protections mean to him, as an affordable housing tenant.

The government’s plan to offer rental protections to people unable to pay their rent due to the Covid-19 pandemic to me seems like an excellent step forward in battling this public crisis. Around 30 years ago, just moved out of my parent’s house I learned to pay my rent before I did anything else, and I learned this the hard way. A couple of times I had become very close to being homeless and I realized that there were places to get food, places to get medical and other types of care, things to do, but without a home to hang your hat you were in real trouble in the part of downtown Vancouver where I lived at the time.

Right now, I am living in an apartment in a subsidized building and I feel I am very lucky to have it. Despite that I have part-time work with the Schizophrenia Society (which has completely shut down due to the pandemic,) getting rent in on time has become an issue because of the change of dates of AISH payments, and other forms of public support for marginalized people. If I had to pay late penalties or faced eviction for being late a day or two, it would be a total disaster.

Not long ago, I had a landlord who evicted me simply because I informed him that my rent may not be on time. If I were evicted now, like then, I would be unable to move my property, likely lose it all, and I would have to couch surf with friends and family (if they could have me) and possibly stay in shelters where I feel I would be at risk.

Helping Albertans with not allowing evictions and requesting landlords make arrangements to pay back rent owed will save both great suffering and possibly prevent a worsening of the pandemic. I do hope though that landlords, who do perform a vital service at risk of housing market collapse, interest rate problems, and a host of other issues will be supported as well in these difficult times. In my 48 years alive in Alberta I have never seen such serious and life-changing issues affect so many people of all parts of our society, and though perhaps much more has to be done, letting people stay in their rental units will be critical to Alberta moving forward.

For more information and to catch up with Leif, check out his blog.