RedERent January 18, 2023 Advice no responses

Many tenants overlook the importance of tenant insurance when they are entering into a rental agreement. But, tenant insurance is a vital aspect of renting a home or apartment. Having the right coverage can protect both renters and landlords from unexpected costs or damages that may arise during the course of the rental agreement. Here’s why tenant insurance is essential for renters and landlords alike.

What Does Tenant Insurance Cover?

Tenant insurance covers any damage that occurs to the contents of a rented property, as well as any accidental injury sustained by the tenant or their guests while inside the property. This type of coverage also provides liability protection for those rare instances when someone sustains an injury in your rental space that you may be held liable for. It also covers any additional living expenses you may incur if you need to relocate temporarily due to damage caused by fire, water, smoke, etc., within your rental space.

For landlords, tenant insurance can provide peace of mind knowing that any potential damages will be covered should your tenants experience an incident while renting from you. This type of coverage helps protect against losses caused by theft, vandalism, fire and water damage (caused by your tenants). It also eliminates potential legal battles over responsibility for damaged items or injuries that occur on your property since the tenant’s policy will cover these expenses instead.

Why You Need Tenant Insurance

Tenants should have some form of insurance in case something unexpected happens, such as theft or natural disasters like floods or fires, which could leave them without their possessions and/or unable to reside in their current residence. Oftentimes, tenants will believe the landlord or building insurance policy also protects their belongings and home life; put simply, it does not.

Why Tenant Insurance is Essential with Overflowing bathtub

Landlords should make sure their tenants carry some form of coverage so they won’t be liable for damages done to their property by their tenants or their guests. In addition, having coverage on both sides ensures that no one is stuck with unexpected costs due to an unfortunate incident occurring inside the rental unit.

It’s important to understand the value of Tenant Insurance

Both tenants and landlords need to understand how important tenant insurance is when entering into a rental agreement.
Not only does it provide peace of mind knowing that all parties are protected from liabilities related to accidents or incidents within the rented space but it also ensures that no one is stuck with costly repair bills due to damages caused by either party during the tenancy period. Taking out a tenant insurance policy is an inexpensive way to safeguard yourself and your rental space from potential financial losses related to unexpected events while occupying a rented space—so it’s definitely worth considering!

Read more

RedERent December 20, 2022 Halifax Regional Municipality no responses

There has been a lot of controversy surrounding short term rentals (STRs), with some claiming that they are ruining neighbourhoods and driving up housing costs. While the evidence can sometimes appear clear-cut and obvious (and, by extension, clickable), the reality is much more complex and nuanced. While it is true that short-term rentals can have some negative impacts, they also have many benefits that should not be overlooked.

The Changing Neighbourhood

One of the main arguments against short term rentals is that they can drive up housing costs in popular tourist destinations. This is because homeowners and landlords may be more likely to list their properties on platforms like Airbnb rather than renting them out long-term to local residents. This can reduce the availability of affordable housing and lead to gentrification in specific neighbourhoods. This is often true, but not the whole story.

In reality, any time a neighbourhood becomes more popular, and in demand, housing prices are likely to go up. This can happen for various reasons, such as an influx of new businesses or an increase in the overall desirability of the area. However, it’s important to note that this is not a problem unique to short-term rentals. Blaming short-term rentals for rising housing costs ignores the bigger picture and fails to address the root causes of the issue.

Another concern is that short term rentals can lead to an increase in noise and other nuisances in residential neighbourhoods. While this is a valid concern, it is not necessarily a given with short term rentals. Many platforms, including Airbnb, have policies to address these issues, such as prohibiting parties and setting maximum occupancy limits. The root of the cause is often how and by whom these rentals are managed. A poorly managed rental or building can be a problem for the community, no matter how long the tenants stay.

You should take it up with The Manager.

Vacation rentals have been around for a while, but sites like Airbnb and VRBO have allowed the market to expand widely by making it incredibly easy for owners to provide their services and for “guests” to find them. Unlike a hotel chain (think “Hilton” or “Holiday Inn”), Airbnb and VRBO don’t have any brand buy-in (something they’re starting to worry about, actually). Those sites offer rental owners a “service” (essentially advertising).
One day we can do a whole article about the situation there, but the important thing to keep in mind is that it’s the rental owners and managers who are deciding how and when your neighbourhoods are being affected.

A poorly managed rental or building can be a problem for the community, no matter how long the tenants stay.

The Case and The Costs for Short Term Rentals

Many assume the decision to offer a rental on a short term or vacation basis is purely about making more money. It’s often not as simple as that. There are benefits to short and long-term contracts; what IS often the case is that the rental owner is trying to determine what’s best for their investment. That could be as easy as “dipping a toe” into being a landlord or even just being able to collect or adjust the rent to cover operating costs or being able to access/use the rental part of the time. Let’s assume for the moment that you don’t care if the landlord gets wealthy, though (because that’s usually where this conversation goes). There is a way for short-term rentals to still exist without disrupting or damaging the rental market.

Local governments can implement regulations to address these concerns, such as setting limits on the number of short-term rentals allowed in a given area or requiring hosts to obtain a permit. This is something that has been getting a lot of buzz in HRM lately.

HRM City Council is Reviewing Short Term Rental regulations

It’s worth mentioning that there is technically already a requirement for short-term rentals in Nova Scotia to register and pay a fee. HRM city council is now looking at how they can better enforce and control when and where rentals are popping up. A lot has been made of the fact that they have deferred their vote so that they can gather more data and information to make an informed decision; this is actually fairly good news, though; anecdotally, it seems clear something that needs to be addressed here, but city council hasn’t actually presented or reviewed substantial data yet; which is kind of what we expect lawmakers to do before voting.

We’ll disclose at this stage that RedE Rent advertises and manages long-term and short-term rentals in HRM. In doing so, we have consulted the same data sources that have been reported as the basis for the City Council discussion. They’re good sources, but they’re not the full picture.

Before HRM looks at “cracking down” on short-term rentals, they also want to weigh the positive impacts of the market. For example, short-term rentals can provide a source of income for homeowners, which can be especially helpful for those who are struggling to make ends meet. This is part of the reason HRM is looking at keeping the door open for rentals in personal residences.

Short-term rentals bring economic benefits to the local community, as visitors who stay in short-term rentals are likely to spend money on food, entertainment, and other local goods and services.
Finally, short-term rentals can provide travellers with a more authentic and immersive travel experience. Rather than staying in a generic hotel, visitors can experience local culture and get a taste of what it’s like to live in a particular neighbourhood or city. This can be especially appealing for travellers who want to avoid touristy areas and explore off the beaten path.

But you likely already knew all that, right?

You’re not out to shut down the retired empty nesters who just want to make some extra money so they can visit their grandkids.

You’re upset with the guy who is turning an entire apartment building into a “hotel” or the big house in the suburbs that has crazy parties every weekend.

You want the housing problem to be resolved; you want to understand why people with full-time jobs are homeless.

We agree. We want all that too. That’s why we wanted to write this article.

Short term rentals are not inherently evil.

While they can have some negative impacts, they also have many benefits and should be viewed as one part of a larger and more complex housing market. A bad landlord or manager can create a real issue, and 5 of them can create 5 real issues (at least). The expansion of the short-term rental market has created many more landlords and managers than there ever were, and we’re quickly discovering not all of them are created equal.

Rather than demonizing short-term rentals, we should look at the root causes of rising housing costs and work to address any adverse impacts through targeted regulations and policies. What those regulations and policies should be are perhaps topics for another article. For now, we think the items the city council is looking at are the right ones, and we hope they will make a positive and informed decision.

The short-term rental market is slowing. Likely not forever, but as the economy continues to face challenges, we may see the long-term rental market bounce back slightly and ease the shortages we’ve been experiencing. Many “evil” or “bad” landlords will be the first ones out of the market. Short-term rentals are really easy to be bad at and even easier to think you’re good at. Our prediction is that when the money runs out for short-term rentals, so will the short-term interest of “bad operators.”

RedE Rent Short Term Rental Banner (RedE Rent Travel)

Read more

RedERent August 12, 2021 Construction no responses

Despite the undeniably high demand for purpose-built rental (PBR) housing, the development of these types of buildings has been lacking in (and outside of) most large Canadian cities.

While the homeownership market (freehold and condominium housing) continues to keep crews busy, “PBR” housing remains a “someday maybe” priority for many a Town Hall/private developer; and the reality is, it’s been that way for the last 50 years.

In their recent article for The Financial Post, Murtaza Haider and Stephen Moranis point out that Halifax has been bucking the trend.

Now, before we get hate mail (although…it might still happen) reminding us of the incredible housing shortage in the city we want to say:
Yes. Absolutely, the growing demand for rental housing (particularly affordable and attractive rental housing) continues to outpace the actual development of rental housing.

The fact remains, however, that rental housing in HRM dominates residential construction. So, what is at the root of the focus on rental development? A number of factors, but there are two that Haider and Moranis cite which certainly grabbed our attention.

Halifax’s housing initiatives deserve examination since we believe that restricting landlords to rent raises by a certain level, also known as vacancy decontrol, and the introduction of the capital gains tax have been instrumental in constraining the supply of rental housing.

John Dickie, president of the Canadian Federation of Apartment Associations, pointed out that “until recently, Nova Scotia did not have rent control at all for rental apartments.” The exception was manufactured home lots. Vacancy decontrol was only introduced as a temporary measure in response to COVID-19.

This isn’t a new phenomenon. This has been a prefered business model for years and has lead to multi generational wealth and success in our city.

Haider-moranis Halifax Rental Starts Trend Line from "The secret behind Halifax’s ability to build purpose-built rental housing at a record pace | Financial Post"

Large real estate invenstors have taken notice (and root), making rental housing stock in HRM even more desirable.

Canadian Apartment Properties REIT (CAPREIT) in February 2020 announced the acquisition of eight apartment buildings in Halifax that added 1,503 rental dwellings to its local portfolio, which now comprises some 3,100 rental suites. With an average occupancy rate north of 99 per cent in the eight buildings, CAPREIT has been capitalizing on the strong demand for rental housing.

Halifax’s success with rental housing construction demonstrates how public and private entities may collaborate to build sufficient rental housing in places where the demand for rental housing is high. An absence of rent controls in the past, supportive socio-demographics, and imaginative homebuilders and rental investors have been critical to resolving the rental housing challenges.

To learn more and take a look at the full report we recomend checking out the full article from Murtaza Haider and Stephen Moranis here or visiting thier fantastic site at

Source: The secret behind Halifax’s ability to build purpose-built rental housing at a record pace | Financial Post

Murtaza Haider is a professor of Real Estate Management at Ryerson University. Stephen Moranis is a real estate industry veteran. They can be reached at the Haider-Moranis Bulletin website,

Read more

RedERent April 27, 2021 Development no responses

Perhaps not surprisingly, rentals featuring balconies have been on the rise over the past few years

In the current climate (socially, not necessarily environmentally) the benefits of having a balcony or other outdoor space to breathe freely and relax have become even more attractive and in demand.

Balconies now offer developers a chance to attract renters, earn additional income, and accelerate lease-ups.

Balconies have long been a part of many apartment buildings, with the earliest examples dating back more than 2,000 years to ancient Greece, designed to increase air circulation in hot weather and bring natural light into interior rooms.

They continued to play an iconic role in fiction and real life, from star-crossed lovers Romeo and Juliet to Eva Peron’s triumphant balcony appearance at her Presidential Palace.

However, it wasn’t until the 1950s in the United States that balconies were built as an amenity for high-end apartments. A decade later, they became more common in middle-class developments such as New York City’s Lincoln Towers, constructed during a major urban redevelopment.

Balconies are no longer just for the rich and warm

Balconies are becoming a staple of rental property developments and renovations, and are no longer limited by climate (this time it’s environmental) or unit price point.

They’re showing up in buildings (across the U.S) rather than only in warm-weather locales. For example, Milhaus development projects include them in its 10 states, including its Indianapolis headquarters, says Jake Dietrich, Vice President of Development.

They also are found at all price points, from affordable senior housing communities such as Dominium’s The Legends of Blaine in Blaine, Minn., to luxury dwellings with multiple balconies like a new, still unnamed building in Dallas’ Turtle Creek neighborhood, developed by USA Infrastructure Investments and designed by Chicago’s Lucien Lagrange Studio.

Most share something in common. “The best balconies are not just a place to stand for a second and get some fresh air but extend living and let people pursue an activity such as cooking, dining, stretching out and even working,” says Mary Cook, President and Founder of Chicago-based Mary Cook Associates, a commercial interior design firm.

Diana Pittro, Executive Vice President at RMK Management Corp. in Chicago, which manages apartment homes in four Midwestern states, thinks the pandemic is the primary factor driving the surge. “People are spending more time at home, which, of course, means more time on balconies if they have them,” she says.

Nick Hollenbeck, Director of Sales and Marketing for Livingston, N.J.-based Sterling Properties, a developer focused on the tri-state area, says the number of inquiries for those looking for private outdoor space has been “unbelievable. Serendipitously, we had The Vestry in Montclair [N.J.] opening with big balconies and terraces,” he says.

In fact, private outdoor space may now rank only second to rent concessions on residential wish lists. The increased interest is evidenced by the uptick in renters’ searches for a “balcony,” which grew 84% last year, according to data from Zumper. The change has helped private outdoor space leapfrog over shared outdoor space, according to Lela Cirjakovic, Executive Vice President at Chicago-based Waterton, a value-add developer that operates in 16 states.

Appeal for Renters

Part of the growth in the appeal of balconies is that many renters are willing to use them like a terrace. Balconies can now be used (and easily outfitted affordably) for an outdoor escape no matter the temperature or weather.

This is particularly attractive for people downsizing (or moving) for a home with a dedicated outdoor space. As Covid-19 set in renters quickly began to seek out a replacement or substitute for public gathering spaces and facilities; balconies quickly became a standout (and enviable) feature in that regard.

Appeal for Developers

Developers have other reasons to incorporate balconies. These outdoor spaces have long been a way to differentiate the type/class of unit or building. This can be a particularly useful tool in municipalities that mandate mixed affordability as part of development agreements. A unit with a balcony can easily be offered with a higher price tag, without disrupting or downgrading the pricing structure and value of other units.

Other developers do so to provide fresh air and greenery as scientific evidence mounts that those features improve mental well-being. Leasing numbers also reveal they help rentals better compete with single-family homes with yards and compensate for less interior square footage in units as some apartments were downsized when amenity spaces were increased, says architect Ed Bradford, a principal at TAT in Chelsea, Mass., outside Boston.

Developers have also learned the importance of showcasing a view, the case when Baltimore-based RD Jones & Associates designed One Cardinal Way in St. Louis with balconies facing the city’s baseball stadium. Doing so allowed Baltimore-based developer The Cordish Companies to charge premium rents. “Residents wouldn’t pay the same amount if the views were of I-95,” says Rebecca Jones, RD Jones’ Founder and CEO.

How much extra can be charged varies—influenced by view, balcony size, direction faced, construction and maintenance costs and overall market conditions.

In his experience, real estate salesperson Michael E. Smith with Corcoran Group’s New York City office says the uptick in cost might be 15% to 20% above the monthly rent. “That’s especially true if the balcony clears trees and provides a good view,” he says.

Softening rent prices in several markets also mean—at least now—that costs for an apartment home with a balcony may have decreased, which allows some renters to afford a larger unit.

The greater desirability of balconies and terraces may also translate into faster leasing. Smith knew he wanted a balcony and was willing to downsize to get one that faced south. “I love morning light and waking up with the sun is very important to me,” he says.

Yet at the same time, there are caveats. Many developers follow the mantra of not attaching a balcony to each unit. To do so would eliminate some of its “specialness” and make it less feasible to charge extra, says Joshua Silverbush, who oversees market research and analysis at The Marketing Directors, a New York City-based advisory firm. As an example, Wood Partners prefers to have only 50% to 60% of a building’s units with outside space, says Steve Hallsey, Managing Director.

And because of where some renters live, they may prefer a window that opens and more interior space than a balcony used only a couple of months a year, says Cook.

Many experts remain uncertain how much the pandemic will influence balcony design. Some, like Smith, expect them to get larger, along with the interior of apartments, as more renters work from home and have children attend virtual school. Dietrich of Milhaus thinks the more important, rhetorical, question is, “Can developers afford NOT to make this change?”

Barbara Ballinger is a freelance writer.

Sidebar: 6 Ways Balconies Are Changing

As they become more prevalent, apartment balconies keep changing, influenced by a building’s design, location, building and fire codes, views and price points.

1. Bigger. Architect John Cetra of CetraRuddy Architecture remembers earlier decades’ small balconies, dubbed “diving boards” because they often were narrow—only 5 feet wide—and used more for storage.

Older balconies may measure 5-by-5, but the newer ones are often bigger to be more functional and accommodate more people and furnishings for a true living space, says architect Ed Bradford of TAT. A better size, he says, is in the range of 7-by-10, and some at its Avalon Sudbury-designed building in Sudbury, Mass., are 10-by-15. At the CetraRuddy-designed ARO in New York City’s Theater District, the 62-story apartment tower has a curved form with glass curtain wall wrapped in a steel “net” that creates space for balconies, some 6 feet wide. The same firm’s Oskar building, also in New York, has balconies that vary from 100 to 400 square feet and create a cascade effect down five stories. Despite the trend toward larger, integrating balconies into the overall building’s façade design for an aesthetic impact is more important, says Mary Cook of Mary Cook Associates.

2. Smaller. Among the latest changes are more Juliet-style narrow balconies designed to permit a bit of fresh air but not long stays and add to the aesthetics of the façade as they historically have done on European buildings. Lucien Lagrange Studio included them on all apartments for a Sacramento, Calif., community being designed.

3. Location. While most balconies are placed directly beyond the main living space,
Chicago-based apartment brokerage firm Downtown Apartment Company, says the current hot spot is to be off the main bedroom in larger units, as in the townhomes at Lendlease’s newer Chicago Porte and The Cooper at Southbank, both of which also have terraces off living rooms.

4. Number. Apartments are taking their cue from condos where units may have more than one balcony and sometimes off every room, as in the case of Adache Group Architects’ 30 Thirty North Ocean boutique building in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Apartments, especially in luxury buildings, now may have a second or third balcony, says Cook.

5. Style. Often, the railings are enhanced with more glass or another transparent material that doesn’t obstruct a view or more detailing that matches the building’s design. Floors are upgraded from concrete—sometimes to a faux material like Trex or pavers that wear well outdoors. More electrical outlets are included for better lighting through recessed cans or wall sconces and for powering up laptops and phones for working or schooling from home. Doors into units are constructed with new types of lower-maintenance glass and better seals for the frames, which are often less visible, inspired by the trend in shower doors. Dividers between adjacent units may also be fabricated from nicer materials such as Ipe wood or steel.

On their own, residents add furnishings, from ceiling fans to patio heaters, vertical gardens, upholstered seating, pillows and rugs. New York stager and professional organizer Amanda Wiss of Urban Clarity says she often does so to evoke the look of an interior room.

6. Rules. Because it’s easy for balconies to become storage and junk spaces, more building managers are enforcing rules about how they should look aesthetically and for safety, even orchestrating “housekeeping checks,” says Diana Pittro of RMK Management. Her company engages residents in a positive way by sponsoring holiday balcony décor and spring landscaping contests.

Source: Balcony Boom: Today’s Go-To Living Space | National Apartment Association

(please note that the views expressed in the article are solely those of the contributing sources to the original article as cited, the summary of this article should not be misunderstood to represent the views of the original publisher or its contributors) 

Barbara Ballinger is a freelance writer.

Read more

RedERent April 1, 2021 Advice no responses
The reply from Roberto Noce was honest, informative..but perhaps not what the letter writer had hoped for.
Condominium units are private property, and the condominium corporation cannot restrict how someone leases or otherwise disposes of their property — there is strong case law on this in Alberta. The Condominium Property Act sets out the corporation’s powers with respect to unit rentals. Essentially, the corporation may require owners who rent out their units to pay a deposit.
In the article, Noce also attempts to dispel some misconceptions regarding “renters”
There are many false stereotypes of renters: They are transient, they don’t contribute to a community as much as owners, and they don’t make good neighbours. Just because renters do not own their condo units that doesn’t mean they care any less about the condominium complex than owners do. Here are some tips for getting active as a renter: Get to know your neighbours; find out when meetings and/or social events are and show up; and, if the bylaws allow for renters to be on the board, run for a position. Finally, if you are looking for rental information, go to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. Rental Market Report, which provides an in-depth analysis of rental markets, a review of rents and vacancy rates.

But condo units used for short-term rental such as Airbnb, well, that’s another story

Condominium corporations do have the power to restrict short-term rentals such as Airbnb. The Airbnb arrangements are distinct from traditional residential leases.
(in the eyes of the law)
Airbnb guests are not renters; they are the functional equivalent of hotel guests who are mere licensees.
To read the full story visit: Condo boards cannot limit the number of rental units in building | Calgary Herald (please note that the views expressed in the article are solely those of the contributing sources to the original article as cited, the summary of this article should not be misunderstood to represent the views of the original publisher or its contributors) 

Read more

RedERent March 12, 2021 Advice no responses

Home ownership in early 2021 is the mythical licence to print money come to life. But with house prices soaring and affordability retreating, more people are going to be forced to rent. We need to build up renting as a respectable, pragmatic life choice and stop acting like it’s a social disease.

You know I’m right about the negativity toward renting. Tick any of these boxes that apply: Renters miss out on sure-fire wealth creation involving an asset that can be sold tax-free if it’s a principal residence. Paying a mortgage is a forced savings plan because you build equity. Renters are just throwing their money away. Renters lose, owners win.

Renting is seen as a state of suspended adulthood – something you do for a limited time after graduation. Get a job, save a down payment, buy a house. Bing, you’re well on your way to a life well-lived.

Let’s not forget the lifestyle benefit of owning. Space to spread out, both now and after the pandemic. Barbecues on the deck, kids playing hockey in your driveway. Your own swimming pool and an island in your kitchen.


Buying is great if you can actually afford it..

Home ownership in early 2021 is the mythical licence to print money come to life. But with house prices soaring and affordability retreating, more people are going to be forced to rent. We need to build up renting as a respectable, pragmatic life choice and stop acting like it’s a social disease.

You know I’m right about the negativity toward renting. Tick any of these boxes that apply: Renters miss out on sure-fire wealth creation involving an asset that can be sold tax-free if it’s a principal residence. Paying a mortgage is a forced savings plan because you build equity. Renters are just throwing their money away. Renters lose, owners win.

Renting is seen as a state of suspended adulthood – something you do for a limited time after graduation. Get a job, save a down payment, buy a house. Bing, you’re well on your way to a life well-lived.

Let’s not forget the lifestyle benefit of owning. Space to spread out, both now and after the pandemic. Barbecues on the deck, kids playing hockey in your driveway. Your own swimming pool and an island in your kitchen.

We can all agree that home ownership is great in many ways. But let’s also recognize that it’s getting increasingly unaffordable for young buyers. Resale house prices jumped 22.8 per cent on a year-over-year basis nationally in January to $621,525. Meanwhile, interest costs on fixed-rate mortgages have recently come back a bit from their pandemic lows.

The average resale price in both Toronto and Vancouver was more than $1-million as of last month, a level at which buyers have to come up with a minimum down payment of 20 per cent. That’s $200,000, which is quite a load in a world where getting 1.5 per cent on a savings account is a win.

Prices in some other cities are high enough that monthly mortgage payments could easily be in the $2,500 to $3,000 a month range, depending on mortgage rate and down payment. Add daycare plus car payments and you’re up against it.

If housing prices are rising, isn’t that a stock you should buy?

Many look at the prices in the rapidly rising housing market and feel that is an indication of “a house” being an even more reliable investment. That’s not totally incorrect, particularly when seemingly everyone is chatting about working from home and having a backyard again. The catch (because of course there is one, or else you wouldn’t be reading this) is that “a house” might not be “the BEST even more reliable investment.”

In his editorial, Rob Carrick goes on to say

..with home prices rising, the optics of renting as a housing choice have never looked worse. But from a personal finance point of view, renting makes sense for young adults trying to navigate the coming transition into a postpandemic world.

Renting gives you the flexibility to get situated in the postpandemic work environment without a house to hold you down. Change cities if you need to, or relocate downtown if your employer is done with remote work and wants an office with butts in seats. Renting also offers a level of personal freedom that could be very appealing when travel is once again something we can enjoy without guilt or hassle.

Economical rent does seem pretty lame compared with soaring equity. But all is not lost for renters. They save hundreds of dollars a month compared with home owners by not paying for upkeep or improvements. If most or all of that money is invested over a few decades, it produces a big, fat investment portfolio that can be used for retirement and other things.

Canada, I totally get your obsession with houses right now. Housing answers a spiritual hunger in our population that has been heightened by the pandemic. And affordability does seem to be slipping way. If you don’t act now, you might be shut out forever.

But here’s the thing – some people are already being shut out. They’ll be renting for the foreseeable future and they need your support, not your prejudice against a choice made by necessity.

To read the full article and more work from Rob Carrick, we suggest you check out the source below.

Source: In a hot housing market, we need to check our smugness about owning versus renting – The Globe and Mail

(please note that the views expressed in the article are solely those of the contributing sources to the original article as cited, the summary of this article should not be misunderstood to represent the views of the original publisher or its contributors) 

Read more

RedERent September 27, 2020 Community no responses

Covid-19 has hit the entire world hard, but the homeless members of our community have been hit particularly hard. With the old shelter model (which was already working with razor-thin margins) no longer being as viable with public health regulations; and a massive shift in the housing market, there has been a major influx in people looking for somewhere, anywhere, to safely call home.

In one particular Toronto neighbourhood that is (according to some of the neighbours) causing a real problem.

A new interim 24-hour respite site for 28 homeless males that opened in June on the Esplanade near Church Street has nearby residents, particularly seniors, upset and calling for its removal.

“I’m not a person who gets scared, but it’s the first time in 23 years that I don’t feel secure in my neighbourhood,” said Joyce Barnes, 76, who teaches meditation and lives next door to the site.

“Things are getting worse by the day.”

Barnes said the site has become a gathering place for other homeless people, and that she was recently followed home from her local drug store by a homeless man, who kept within about 5 cm of her. When someone else approached, the man crossed the street and left, she added.

Local community members have also complained to the Star that the Esplanade site has led to open drug dealing and discarded needles, public intoxication and other incidents, including the stabbing of a homeless man in a bus shelter.

More than one neighbourhood has seen an increase in population and concerns

The Esplanade (“a particularly nice part of town” if you’re unfamiliar) isn’t the only neighbourhood to experience concerns in the wake of the “increased displacement” of the homeless.  

The concerns are similar to those that have divided the Yonge and Eglinton neighbourhood, which has been at odds this summer over two interim homeless shelters — one has since closed because the building is being demolished — the city opened to create more physical distancing space in its shelters.

The situation highlights how the city is caught between a rock and a hard place.

On the one hand, it faces a deadly pandemic that spreads easily in congregate settings like a homeless shelter. In fact, it’s being sued by a coalition of public interest groups for allegedly failing to keep to the terms of an earlier court agreement forged to ensure physical distancing standards in the shelters. The city denies the allegations and a hearing is set for early October.

At the same time, the city is also under pressure from city residents about homeless “encampments” that have been springing up in more visible locations and interim shelters that are being set up by the city in communities that have never had them before.

Mary-Anne Bedard, general manager of Toronto’s Shelter Support and Housing Administration, said the city had to “move quickly to save lives” in March in response to COVID-19 by getting people out of the crowded shelter system and outdoor encampments.

Public health requirements for physical distancing meant the city had to move almost 50 per cent of its shelter beds into new locations.

The city has since opened 25 interim sites for the homeless, 17 of them in hotels and others in spaces in the city, including the Esplanade site, a travellers’ hostel and a location that once served as a religious mission.

“The need to open so many new locations in such a short period of time — going into neighbourhoods that we’ve never been in before — it’s a new phenomenon for some communities, so there is a heightened level of concern,” Bedard said.

However, “I very much believe there is no wrong neighbourhood for a homeless shelter. It’s a community service — there are no communities that shouldn’t have this service,” said Bedard. “The same way that there’s no community that shouldn’t have a library or shouldn’t have a community centre.”

Nevertheless, the city is trying to balance concerns over increased street homelessness with concerns about new shelter sites, Bedard said.

The need for good shelter is a complex one

Having adequate shelter and housing for the homeless isn’t simply about keeping them “hidden.” It’s incredibly important that cities be able to meet with and support those in need. The shelter and supportive housing systems are (at present) one of the key ways to do that.

“Homelessness is impacting almost every community in Toronto one way or another,” she said. “When people are sheltered, the city is better positioned to support them and mitigate community concerns.”

Part of the reason for the increase in complaints about the homeless may be because they have become more visible during COVID-19.

Bedard pointed out that homeless people have become “a lot more open about where they are pitching their tents,” compared to before “when the tents were more out of sight, in ravines, under bridges and other secluded areas.”

Some homeless people have said they prefer staying in the outdoor tents because they feel safer and less susceptible to the coronavirus.

Why in my backyard?

The Esplanade space (formerly a fitness center) was offered for use by the current owners (Timbercreek Asset Management) after an outreach call from the city. The space is currently being leased for $0, with the agreement that the city will pay all operating costs including heat and hydro.

“The city was in a desperate situation with COVID-19 — the overcrowding in shelters and the need for safe social distancing,” said Colleen Krempulec, a senior spokesperson for Timbercreek. “At the end of the day, we just felt it was the right thing to do.”

Krempulec said that the end of January date for the lease expiry is firm, but she also added that “we’re in an evolving situation,” due to the coronavirus.

While some (the more cynical among us) may argue that Timbercreek Asset Management is also benefiting from not carrying the cost a vacant asset AND earning some goodwill from the city in the process; that’s kinda not the point.

A shelter space is now being offered to those who would otherwise be living in unsafe conditions, unable to receive the help and support they now have access to. Unless, “Erik Haites, 77, a semi-retired consultant who has lived since 1986 in a condo building attached to the respite site on the Esplanade” is correct when he says that he believes little is being done to support the homeless men using the facility.

“No efforts are being made to address their needs. They’re getting no help with their mental health, alcohol or drug addictions, or job training to help these people get out of their homelessness.”

He later went on to say: “just plunking people down in inappropriate (locations), then doing nothing is not the solution.”

But St. Felix Centre (which delivers programming and operates the respite), suggests that the 77 year old, semi-retired consultant and long time resident of The Esplanade may be mistaken.

residents have daily access to its casework team. Through the team, they can get help with housing supports, referrals to primary health care, psychiatry, substance use counselling and support, and other forms of assistance.

In terms of safety issues, St. Felix created a liaison committee, which includes members of the community, city officials, representatives of the local councillors and a community engagement coordinator.

“Our community engagement coordinator is in constant communication with different community stakeholders, the BIA, community police officers and the city to keep the centre’s senior leadership team informed of any possible challenges,” said St. Felix spokesperson Enrique Cochegrus in a statement.

“We also have our community safety team that monitors the immediate off-site area and conducts rounds in a designated area near the program to assist people experiencing crisis, de-escalate situations, do clean-ups, and support community members.”

Local city councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam said COVID-19 has made homelessness more “visible,” leading to tensions with local residents.

“Many service organizations have had to temporarily halt or restrict services, which combined with an increase in encampments, has pushed more vulnerable residents onto our sidewalks and into our park system, creating more conflicts over the use of space,” said Wong-Tam in a statement.

“Combined with fewer residents who have the fortune to have their own home … it is understandable that people feel less safe downtown as the balance of users has dramatically shifted.”

Source: ‘There is no wrong neighbourhood for a homeless shelter’: How COVID-19 is making tempers flare over housing Toronto’s homeless | The Star

(please note that the views expressed in the article are solely those of the contributing sources to the original article as cited, the summary of this article should not be misunderstood to represent the views of the original publisher or its contributors) 

Read more