For Immediate Release
May 13, 2020

“Banning guests is killing us quicker than COVID”

Supportive housing residents to speak out against BC Housing’s discriminatory ban on guests

SURREY, BC (Unceded Kwantlen, Katzie, Qayqayt, Kwikwetlem Territories): On Wednesday May 13th, supportive housing residents from throughout Metro Vancouver will speak out against the policy of BC Housing-contracted supportive housing operators to ban all guests from their buildings.

What: News conference
When: Wednesday May 13th, 1:00pm
Where: Outside Nickerson Place modular housing, 13550 105 Avenue, Surrey

When BC Premier Horgan declared a state of emergency in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, supportive housing operators throughout British Columbia responded by shutting down guest access to their buildings. The guest shutdowns ostensibly serve to force these buildings into compliance with COVID-19 physical distancing regulations. But losing access to community, and for “guests,” losing the only housing or shelter they have, has been the only response that supportive housing residents have received from the government.

On May 4th, a coalition of tenant advocacy groups released an open letter to BC Housing explaining that their supportive housing guest ban violates tenant rights, and also COVID-19 health and safety recommendations from Vancouver Coastal Health and the BC Centre for Disease Control. They say that VCH recommends “that housing providers continue allowing visitors and use other prevention strategies so people do not use alone in their rooms.”

Speakers will include residents of Metro Vancouver supportive housing and modular housing buildings who have been refused guests will explain that, in the words of Maple Ridge modular housing resident Eva Bardonnex, “banning guests is killing us quicker than COVID.”

Issues speakers will cover include: violation of tenancy and human rights; increased risk and incidents of overdose death as people who use drugs lose access to their community overdose prevention resources; loss of housing and increased homelessness as “couch surfers” and romantic partners are barred; and anti-poor discrimination.