In the House of Assembly’s Question Period today, NDP Housing Critic Gerry Rogers (MHA, St. John’s Centre) tried once again to get answers from government about unregulated rooming and boarding house, many of which she says are in alarming and unsafe condition.
“Yesterday I visited a man in another bedsitter in my district,” she said. “The previous night there was an assault in the house; the police were called. He wasn’t involved but he was terrified. When he moved in there wasn’t even a lock on his door.
“The rent for his tiny dingy room is $600 and paid directly by AES. He’s desperate to move out. He is one of many, many vulnerable people in unsafe, substandard bedsitters across the city.
“I ask the Minister of Advanced Education and Skills, how much money does AES spend on these boarding houses and bedsitters annually?”
Rogers has spoken to one landlord who said he took in almost $400,000 from government last year in his operation. She says the appalling conditions continue partly because they are not covered by provincial laws.
“The City of St. John’s wants to work together with the province to regulate and enforce these substandard rooming and boarding houses. They are calling the government to the table,” she said. “Thorough public consultations have already been done to review the Residential Tenancies Act. I ask the Minister where is the new Act and will he commit to including regulating these bedsitters and boarding houses in the new Act?”
Rogers says youth sometimes also end up in dangerous boarding houses, and the plan to end homelessness for at risk youth is long overdue.