SAFE and Affordable Housing.

Many people have discussed with me about the need for safe and healthy low cost housing choices.

I was told a story of a fire in a house that had been converted to 5 smaller apartments.  The 5 tenants left the house while fire-fighters put out the fire.  After 6 hours or so the residents were let back in.  Residents and next door neighbours were concerned about the safety of the building, but being low income and welfare recipients, they were not in a strong enough position to advocate for their own on-going safety.

When I returned from Japan in 2005 and searched for an apartment to live in, I viewed some apartments that at the very least seemed to have issues of sanitation and hygiene.  It would not surprise me that there are many apartments that presently exist with both safety and sanitation/hygienic concerns.

Given the state of our economy, we NEED affordable housing!

This said, our need for affordable housing is not an excuse to allow landlords to risk of the health and safety of their tenants – people who are often struggling with the daily challenges of a low income life.

If a property owner wishes to live in unsanitary and unsafe conditions, while this should not be condoned the owner should be free to do so.  But if a property owner runs his/her property as a business and receives payment, it should be none other than the property owner’s responsibility to provide a safe and healthy living space for tenants.  Although residential tenancy is governed by the provincial governent a provincial jurisdiction, there are certainly some areas of overlap where city by-laws will have some effect.  An in depth review of the areas in which the HRM could intervene on the behalf of its residents could produce positive results.  And we can even consider and discuss an inspection requirement as a possible part of the solution to improve the safety of low cost apartments in Dartmouth and across the HRM as a whole.

4 comments on “SAFE and Affordable Housing.”

  1. Elinor S Benjamin Reply

    It’s hard to envision that there can possibly be enough people who can afford to live in all these high end developments that are currently under construction. I would like to see regulations that require all developments to include a certain percentage of less luxurious, simple, units that can be rented by lower income tenants. Lower income does not necessarily mean bad tenants. I have a family member who is an extremely responsible person living on a bare minimum income, who would love to have the option of not living in substandard housing, and would be an excellent neighbour.

    • admin Reply

      Agreed! A certain percentage of guaranteed “affordable” units (with affordable well defined) in new developments is an idea I can support!

  2. eviljo Reply

    Affordable is definitely needed, but affordable must also be held accountable to quality standards. Its no good having an affordable apartment when your landlord ignores a mold problem or refuses to make minor repairs such as window screens to keep out biting insects infesting the apartment. (both have happened to me in this district within the past 3 years) Then you’re stuck in unhealthy conditions because the rent is cheap. One should’ve have to accept a lower standard of living in order to afford a roof over your head.

    • admin Reply

      Agreed! And thanks for your comments. This is why I suggest and fully support others who suggest the similar idea of having more robust inspection requirements for apartments. A fellow candidate thinks the present “user complaint” based system is enough to bring under-par landlords into compliance. Quite simply, our user-complaint based system doesn’t work!! We need robust inspections to ensure that minimum standards in safety and sanitation are being met.

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