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Panel seeks crackdown on illegal rooming houses

Jun 23 2012

Victoria councillors want the province to stop funding substandard housing.

Members of the city's planning and zoning committee want Housing Minister Rich Coleman to ensure providers of subsidized housing conform to local zoning.

All too often, the city finds itself having to register a notice against the title of properties that have been converted to rooming houses without a permit or in areas contrary to zoning, said committee chairwoman Coun. Marianne Alto.

That can lead property owners to evict tenants to return the housing to its intended use.

In many cases, all the people living in the rooming houses are receiving social assistance, so the province is, in effect, indirectly supporting substandard housing, Alto said.

The committee is encouraging Mayor Dean Fortin to write to Coleman asking him to advise subsidized housing providers - be they individuals, businesses or non-profit organizations - that they have an obligation to ensure their housing conforms to local zoning.

"If we could get that kind of advice from the minister, we would be less frequently facing unintended results of removing vulnerable people from the only housing option available to them," Alto said.

She said it shouldn't be too difficult for the province to track and flag instances where several social assistance cheques are being mailed to the same address and do a title search to see whether it is a single-family dwelling.

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