Help us develop one possible solution to the rental crisis


In Victoria in the 1940s during WWII, Times Colonist headlines urged Victorians to open their homes and “Billet Homeless War Workers.” Victorians responded to the crisis and opened their homes to strangers recently relocated to Victoria to help the local war effort. They didn’t call it the “sharing economy”, they didn’t charge anything, they just opened up their spare bedrooms and invited strangers in.

Now we have a different crisis on our doorstep. For thirty years (1982-2012) there were no new purpose built rental buildings built in Victoria. And, in the last five years, nearly 6000 people have moved into the city. We’re facing a rental crisis. What if Victorians responded in the same way to this crisis? What if there was a way to connect people living in vehicles, in motel rooms, on couches, with seniors living in large houses all alone, with retirees with an extra bedroom, or even with families with large houses and extra rooms. Unthinkable? Victorians stepped up to help out their neighbours in the past.

Interested in exploring the idea further? I’m working with a group of citizens and businesses to develop one possible solution. We need three people currently living in vehicles, on couches, in woodsheds (yes I have heard that this is true in more than one case) AND three people who might be willing to open their homes.

We’d like these six people to join us for a short focus group session. There is no commitment required other than sharing ideas. We want to build a solution for the people who will use it – for those looking for a place to stay until the rental crisis subsides and for those wiling to billet someone.

Please email if you’d like to help us out. And please share this post! To read more on the current rental crisis and its causes please head here.


83 responses to “Help us develop one possible solution to the rental crisis”

  1. Scott Johnstone Avatar

    My first reaction is to assume the worst — the gangs that infiltrated Tent City and made it their base of operations will undoubtedly put billets into the homes of elderly people and loot them blind.

    But if it’s handled properly then it could work. Like if City of Victoria resources were allocated to creating a new position with the Victoria Police to vet any potential billet applicants, that would probably weed out most, if not all of the predators.

    If it can be implemented in a safe way then I can certainly see this helping a lot of people who’ve been hit by the rental crisis, while also helping a lot of less mobile people get stuff done around the house, get groceries, etc.

  2. Lisa Helps Avatar

    Here is a comment someone on Facebook shared: 

    I don’t have the extra space but I want to thank you for this suggestion, for not being afraid to offer community solutions. I used to work for one of the shelters in town and the greatest success story and turn around i have ever seen in a person, is when some stranger responded to a drunk individual who was panhandling with a place to stay, rather than a coin in his hat. It was a young family with two kids who had a spare room. He ate with them, lived with them. He got new dentures, eye glasses and sobered up quick. He helped around the house and used his welfare stipend to help out with groceries even though this was not asked of him. I get that this is not the norm, but it changed this mans life forever. I was challenged last week when I heard on the radio of a guy who was struggling as he was hearing of the homeless issues and lack of affordable housing and was overwhelmed with guilt and realized he needed to do something because as he put it…”even my truck has its own house” referring to his garage.

    Yes, there are safety concerns with an idea like this but let’s have the conversation and see what we can do.

    1. Fred Rubble Avatar
      Fred Rubble

      10:28am I believe Lisa should be focused on working instead of posting responses on a website. This is the difference in work ethic and the prioritization of tasks between an executive working in the private sector compared to one in the public sector.

      1. Lisa Helps Avatar

        Connecting with the public is part of my work!

    2. familiarzero Avatar

      Haven’t used wordpress in years, but this motivated me to reuse an old account.

      Victoria was a place where I grew up, and while I don’t live there anymore, it’s still a home to me. Hearing about this issue, I wish I had the opportunity to do more. I think it’s great that this is an option being explored. There shouldn’t be anything wrong with someone in power reaching out to community, connecting with people, working for a solution together. It’s a bold step and I strongly commend you for taking it.

      I’ve both been in situations where I was homeless and been in situations where I offered things to those in such situations instead of money, usually food. I know how much something simple as that kind of kindness can mean to someone faced with that kind of scary situation. Your offering up an opportunity for people to not just meet the bottom line, but exceed it in what they can do for others, AND do so in a safer manner. I’m happy to know someone like you is the mayor of somewhere so close to my heart.


      1. art lowe Avatar
        art lowe

        funny how you think it will solve the problems that all governments themselves have created in the first place, please resign and do Victoria a favor..

        1. Lisa Helps Avatar

          As per my comment above to Erin I’ll write a post soon about all the work we’re doing on getting more rentals and more affordable rentals built. I don’t think that any one thing will solve all problems.

    3. Kira Avatar

      This isn’t a typical story though, people need to realize what is most typical is a lot of these people have been given multiple chances and because of their flagrant disregard and disrespect for other people’s boundaries they are distanced…they would have had a place to stay and success if they didn’t act the way they do and break people’s trust cuz they already had a lot of family and friends trying to help them and they screwed them over so many times they left the people with no choice but to disown them… this can just as easily and quickly turn around the other way to where the person’s safetys in Jeopardy and they are being used and taken advantage of …I’m not saying some Horror Story where they’re physically attacked (those out happens to I’ve heard of two cases now where somebody invited a homeless person in their place and they’ve been attacked and killed because they were being robbed)…I’m saying more the problem is people are systematically manipulated and abused emotionally and controlled and then they get their resources and money sucked out of them instead and then once they’re used up a person moves on to the next victim…there’s reasons for things…

    4. kym hothead (@kymhothead) Avatar

      Hey Scott Johnstone, How disgusting the hate and ignorance you spew. There was no “gang activity” at tent city and it was proven in the tent city court case, but, you are only remembering the misinformation spewed by the VICPD to news sources such as the Times Columnist and the same misinformation repeated like here in your post. Also, we definitely do NOT need more consulting from VICPD re: how to deal with homeless when we need it from community builders, community organisers, police are not those! They are called when a crime happens, not to help house the homeless or help deal with fall out around a bad economic system that is failing, nor do VICPD need to be a part of the design of public space or of outside of buildings and WE THE PEOPLE can take care of our own communities and be our own security culture, again, IF A CRIME IS COMMITTED you can call the police. Fear monger’s: argh! I am guessing you are a home owner, police, or both. Shame on you, and Lisa, you are such a diplomat, you shine in the face of such ignorant haters.

  3. Pcs Avatar

    95% of those on the streets have drug and alcohol related issues, along with untreated mental health issues, placing these individuals with vulnerable community members is not the solution. For the other 5% on the street that don’t have those issues…. maytgis this could work.
    What has to happen is health Canada needs to step up and address this issue and start to deal with it. Those homeless don’t need to be in and out of the judicial system we all know that only makes things worse and eats up the budget! This is very much a health related issue.

    1. jhmusicschool Avatar

      With this housing crisis, the group of people who can’t afford housing has expanded to far more than this core group with these typical issues. We encountered a young couple living in their truck the other day – they had just moved to Victoria and couldn’t find a place because they have a dog. The truck was quite new, the people were clean and well-spoken. I would easily rent a room to them had I one to rent. I would obviously do the standard security check, but the idea of who is homeless in this day and age needs to be expanded. There are also many university students living out of their cars – the exact same population I used to rent rooms to in my former house. They can’t afford $1000+ per month for a one bedroom, that’s all. Yes, there needs to be policy change etc. But we need to also do what we can as a community while we wait for who knows how long for such changes to take effect.

      1. Kyle Avatar

        If they cannot afford 1k rent they should not have moved to Victoria. Poor planning. The newer vehicle is probably over financed as well that is easy to do but does not mean someone is responsible. Thier priorities are backwards.

  4. Jay Ryan Avatar
    Jay Ryan

    My wife and I have quietly helped those around us for years, I won’t bore you with all of the details (just some :-). In March 2016 a family member had their house burned down. I asked my daughter if I could mover her to the living room to make room for our new house guest. Without question she did, as things got a little tight around the house. Our house guest should be moving into their rebuilt house by August. September last year my nephew, aspiring to take on a trade inquired about moving to BC. We invited him and his girlfriend to stay in our trailer next to the house, while he attains the skills and income to be out on his own. I only mention this to point out that we are doing our part to help the homeless around us. Mayor Helps your idea is a good one; my question to you: Are you opening your home to the homeless?

  5. canadianbookbinder Avatar

    Will you be having a homeless person stay with you?

  6. Ashlea Avatar

    You seem to have lost your mind. It is not safe for anyone to bring in a drug addict or mental disturbed person into their home. Hell it’s not even safe for us working in the downtown core. How about you worry about cleaning up downtown and making it safe for the ppl who work their. I constantly have to deal with this daily and it’s crap

    1. Lisa Helps Avatar

      This idea obviously won’t work for everyone, but it may work for someone like this, who I got an email from today:

      I am a working professional in dire straits and homeless living out if my vehicle.
      I would be interested in your tentative plan.”

  7. geoff Avatar

    your the biggest idiot that Victoria has ever seen!

  8. Susan Jones Avatar

    I have heard from many who cannot afford their homes (larger) taxes and have turned to AirBnB. What if, what if the City forgave one year or six months property taxes in exchange for 6 month or one year lease to house a non-paying roommate?

  9. guydauncey Avatar

    It’s wild enough for it to work. I’d set a goal to find 100 people willing to help make it work, and then once the renters have moved in, invite them all to a big banquet, to share a feast and learn their stories – to make the home-providers feel honoured and special.

    And to critics – this is big, out-of-the box thinking, which we should aways support, and apply the same rational analysis as we hopefully do to all projects. Maybe it won’t work – but that should never stop us from trying. My hat off to you, Lisa!

  10. Lisa Helps Avatar

    If we can set up a good process I’d consider it yes. But after being mayor. You can’t be mayor AND have a member of the public live in your house with you! As mayor the job never ends and I am often deal with sensitive and confidential information and situations all hours of the day and night. But if we do develop a process that works, when I’m done, if we’re still in this rental crisis situation, yes. We all need to be part of the solution when we can. And Guy, thank you. This was an idea brought to me by a number of citizens that I have chosen to explore it with them.

    1. Gregg Tibbs Avatar
      Gregg Tibbs

      I was welcomed into a home. Freshly out of the tent city. I stayed there for about a year and a half with no problems from either side of our arrangement. Now mind you I am a very over considerate guest for being a hobo. But the experience was very pleasant over all. I wish you well on this idea. It can work with the right pairs of ppl.

    2. Ron Wilson Avatar
      Ron Wilson

      I was reading the Natl Post today (on my break) and this came up as “news”. Seriously, you are mayor of a major Canadian city ? YOU must be the first to host a homeless person to lead by example….Yea….didn’t think so. LOL You are working all hours and don’t have desk that locks up to store your “confidential” information ????
      I believe this is the single most stupid thing I have ever hear a politician utter. “I can’t have a member of the ‘public’ live with me because…..”
      Got the sewage plant running yet ?

      Victoria voters should be embarrassed….

      1. westcoastingblog Avatar

        You should be embarrassed i think it’s a great idea people are already airbnbing out there spare rooms for extra cash to strangers so if they open to the idea of helping someone in need. know actually working as a community instead of just worrying about their own selfish needs. .then why not support them!

  11. comm eng (@CommEng) Avatar


    Lisa, I personally felt you had lost your mind with the Pandora bike lanes by spending millions and completely screwing up traffic patterns and increasing CO2 emissions with traffic jams in making something even avid cyclists like myself feel extremely unsafe using. No one in their right mind would send two way bicycle traffic up/down a one way street. This is a human factors nightmare scenario as Its task overloading to both drivers and cyclists. No wonder there have been so many accidents SINCE the new suicide (bicycle) lanes went in. I used to bike down Pandora regularly but I now avoid it because I don’t want to engage in your experiment in voluntary cyclist population reduction through Darwinism.

    However this latest hair brained idea pretty much confirms it to me. You need professional Help Helps.

    1. Lisa Helps Avatar

      Other cities that have two way bike lanes on a one way streets include Ottawa, Montreal, and San Francisco to name just a few. As for losing my mind, probably there are some members of the public who would have said the same thing of the Mayor of Victoria from the 1940s when the same thing happened re: people billeting other people in their homes during a housing shortage.

      1. comm eng (@CommEng) Avatar

        the proof will be in the carnage i guess. It will be interesting to FOIA the accident stats after a year and see how your experiment turns out. In the meantime, I’m avoiding that deathtrap. I would rather see those millions go to enforcement of laws such as unsafe passing of cyclists, and parking in and using bike lanes as turning lanes.

      2. chrisg527 Avatar

        Lisa, the time has moved on, there is no way that you can compare the 1940’s situation with the housing market of today. Yes, we have a comparatively huge number of homeless and they fall mainly into two categories. 1) the socially sidelined ones who have a mental or drug problem, those people need professional help in order to bring them back into the real world, this is not achieved by providing a compassionate accommodation. 2) the other big group are all those who have to make a living from a minimum wage (system) which is to me modern slavery. All those people simply struggle because there is very little to no affordable housing on the market. Hence you better use the millions you spend on bike lanes (nice to have but not essential) and build a couple of affordable shelters, that is what I would call compassion from a mayor’s side.

      3. Steve Fuzi Avatar
        Steve Fuzi

        Why dont we wait till Victoria becomes the size of the cities you mention. Why are you in a hurry to mimic those cities. You are slowly chocking are downtown streets. You are removing parking . It is a decision to just come downtown anymore. You need to think it through a little harder and stop giving in to the minority

      4. larry Avatar

        With respect there is a great difference between wartime workers moving to Victoria in 1940 etc as compared to a great many of the homeless in Victoria today.

        1. Lisa Helps Avatar

          The great many of invisible homeless today are exactly like the war time workers. They are working in our economy and have no place to live. And we have a shortage of construction workers while there are lots up island. They’d come down here for the work but there’s nowhere for them to live.

    2. Stephen Avatar

      I’m not sure how you, as a cyclist, could possibly struggle with the new bike lane. The lights make it incredible simple and safe. Placing it on a one way street means that cars on that road only interact with it when turning right, hence the no right turn rule on a red. I’m pretty sure the people of this city will overcome.

      1. comm eng (@CommEng) Avatar

        Before the new pandora suicide lanes, if i was coming down Pandora and encountered a slower cyclist, i could simply pass, now i must go into an oncoming lane which is fine, unless its occupied in which case i have to brake hard in order to avoid a collision. I Used to be able to travel at traffic speed, now i have to travel at the speed of the slowest Tard on a bike in the suicide lanes.

        What would make WAY more sense would have been to run a protected lane one way on Pandora and another one way on Fort creating a cycling ring road of sorts. Common sense and proper traffic engineering seems to be something lost to the city counsel of Victoria. And seriously those huge wide dividers? WTF is with that?!? there is another whole 2 bike lanes in that. and it protects nothing. Worse its a false sense of security. A vehicle out of control could hop that curb in a blink of an eye. if they really wanted a protected bike lane they could have put in jersey barriers that would have taken up half the space, at a fraction of the cost and provided protection against even the heaviest vehicle.

        Secondly, Its too much task loading for the cars, the lights are confusing in the way they are set up. The traffic jams these suicide lanes create more than offset any “green” savings from increased bike use. just go sit at cook and Caledonia any day around rush hour now. Its a complete clusterf&%K. Drivers are starting to figure out its faster to “ratrun” residential neighborhoods than get stuck in traffic on cook, and drivers are pissed off at cyclists making interactions between cars and cyclists more dangerous. My 10 year old could have engineered it better.
        To top it all off, police are doing NOTHING about enforcing laws protecting cyclists, one was recently intentionally run down in broad daylight and they still haven’t caught the driver. All Victoria is doing here is polishing a turd.

        I laughed when they announced the Fort St suicide lane upgrade because i know it all but ensures a backlash against Lisa Helps next election. this will all be undone, and Lisa’s only legacy will be the millions spent.

    3. westcoastingblog Avatar

      Love the new bike lanes as a cyclist and driver i have had no issues with them just follow the signs and use basic common sense

  12. Ma! The meatloaf! Avatar
    Ma! The meatloaf!

    I know of 3 couples/families who all earn over $100k collectively who are being asked to leave their rentals after long tennancies and CAN NOT find new rentals. This crisis doesn’t ONLY impact low income folks. The “tax base” is being pushed out of Victoria.

    1. comm eng (@CommEng) Avatar

      Yet Victoria has dropped its bid to have the province impose a 15 per cent non-resident buyers tax on real estate transactions. I wonder who Helps is really helping? certainly doesn’t seem to be the citizens of Victoria.

      1. guydauncey Avatar

        A region-wide ban on whole-house or whole-suite AirBNBs would help; they are spaces that would previously have been in the long-tern rental market.

    2. Kyle Avatar

      Whoever came up with this should be dragged out into Pandora street, shot and then pissed on. No seriously.

      I have been living and working in Victoria at a technology company for 6 years. I am the person you are TRYING to attract here. In reality you are driving us away. The city density has grown noticebly in my time here and the number one complaint everyone I talk to has is traffic and how they city is so inaccessible. Microsoft came and left, I have seen dozens of collegues flee the island for these reasons. I am next and already have plans to leave Victoria and take my tax dollars with me, just cannot take paying the level of taxes I am and getting bubcus for my contribution as you give it all to the homeless and cyclists who contribute little to nothing. Hint: gas tax pays for roads and always has.

      If the mayor an council had half a braincell between them they would have built a train instead of wasteing yet more tax dollars. No one will use any bikes lanes from Oct to May anyway.


      1. Vero Avatar

        This is a ludicrous. Firstly, when did you arrive in Victoria? Did you know that we have a relatively mild climate which facilitates riding year-round? Of course, there are fair-weather cyclists who only ride on warm and dry days, but for many of us, we hit up MEC and weatherproof ourselves for year-round cycling. Lights, down jackets, backpack covers, rain pants and boots are your friends. I commute five days per week throughout Fairfield, Fernwood and the heart of downtown for college and there were less than ten days last year that I couldn’t cycle due to snowy conditions. So your assertion that the bike lanes won’t be used for seven months of the year is absolutely absurd.

        Also, how can you possibly believe that cyclists contribute “little to nothing”? Naturally, there are many cyclists who ride a bicycle for leisure or transportation because they cannot afford a vehicle. However, there are MANY more reasons that people cycle, including for exercise, for fun and leisure, for environmental reasons, to avoid dealing with parking downtown, those without drivers licenses (which could be for many many reasons), etc. One only has to spend a moment observing before they notice a few of the numerous 1,000+ dollar bikes around town. The idea that only low income people ride bicycles, or that some cyclists don’t also have vehicles they purchase gas–and pay the gas tax!– for is embarrassingly inaccurate.

  13. Adrian Avatar

    Have there been citizens bringing other ideas to you, and if so could you share them with us? This option in my mind will backfire with terrible results. Maybe instead explore how the city of Vancouver was able to secure housing for the displaced tenants of the Balmoral Hotel in such short order. Could you not come up with the same results? Doesn’t Vancouver have a lower vacancy rate? Maybe some face time with the mayor of Vancouver is in order. Have you been inside the Ritz hotel recently? You might have the same issue to deal with in the future.

    1. Lisa Helps Avatar

      Yes we also need to put in policies to prevent displacement. My grandpa lived in the Ritz Hotel in the early 1980s!

  14. Dee Avatar

    People seem to think the only homeless people in Victorian are those who are dealing with drug and alcohol issues and other mental health issues (which alone is classist), but it’s not. One of my friends is a full time restaurant manager, no pets, great references and keeps showing up to open houses right now where there are upwards of 30 people who are having bidding wars for the same place, and is couch surfing right now until he can find something longer term.

    Why not open your homes if you have the space to someone like this who is fully employed and unable to find a rental unit because there are not enough in Victoria?

    Also, giving tax incentives to home owners willing to create more rental units and limiting property development to those developers wanting to create more rental buildings.

  15. Sean Avatar

    I find it interesting that you can compare 1940 to 2017. This is a different time and a different place. It’s embarrassing that so much money was spent on some bike lanes that service a small percentage when a large percentage are being affected by this housing problem.

  16. Diane Avatar

    Hi Lisa, with all due respect, is it true that you have an AirBNB that you rent out for $85/night? Will you be offering this space for free for someone in need?

    1. Lisa Helps Avatar

      No that is not true. I rent the upper portion of a duplex.

      1. Diane Avatar

        Thanks for the reply Lisa but I’m still a little confused over it… So the rumor that you have a short term rental is not true? I’ve read in the past that you need to excuse yourself from meetings around this issue due to a conflict of interest. If you could clarify and clear up any confusion, that would be very much appreciated. Thank you.

        1. Lisa Helps Avatar

          Thanks for asking for clarification Diane. The Community Charter (the Provincial legislation that governs local governments) states that members of council and the mayor must recuse themselves from decisions if they have 1.) a pecuniary conflict of interest (means finanical interest) OR 2. bias or a perception of bias. I have consistently recused myself from discussions of AirBnb at the Council table because of #2. a perception of bias. The house where I rent an apartment also has an AirBnb in it. It is not my AirBnb but because I live in a house with one, I have to recuse myself, according to the Community Charter. I hope this clarifies!

      2. Sam Avatar

        I’m with Diane, I’d be interested in knowing if you would offer up your duplex for this cause?

      3. Diane Avatar

        Thanks again for clarifying Lisa, I really appreciate you taking the time to explain things so we can all understand. I mean no disrespect by my questions, but I am reading things that simply don’t add up, hence this conversation.

        The following article mentions that it’s your common-law partner and landlord, Marianne Unger, who owns and runs an AirBnB suite in the house you’re renting and living in and that Marianne has contributed $20,000 to your campaign — if these things are true, to me, that would be an extreme conflict of interest, and as a member representing the public, I would expect all of that information to be disclosed to the public, by you.

        If this information is incorrect, by all means, please correct me, I’m simply trying to understand all of this and by clearing this up, it helps to eliminate any rumors that may be floating around. Thanks again.

      4. Lisa Helps Avatar

        Hi again Diane. I don’t know where the Victoria BC Today folks have got the information that I have a common law partner or that we share a dwelling. Neither of those things are true. They are dancing dangerously close to libel.

  17. David Bagshaw Avatar

    My concern is Lisa’s characterizing the situation as a crisis. Crises end. Technically within 72 hours according to crisis intervention training. We have structural endemic poverty ( including real estate prices ) which benefits the wealthy and perpetuates misery.

    1. Lisa Helps Avatar

      The crisis is the vacancy rate of 0.5%.

  18. ted Avatar

    fake news Lisa, just read you have a room in your house on Airbnb? Guess its okay to have out of town guests staying with you as opposed to the homeless!

    1. Lisa Helps Avatar

      I rent and I don’t have a room in my apartment on AirBnb. I’m not sure where you’re getting your news.

        1. Lisa Helps Avatar

          Thanks. I hope they will clean up their page and replace it with facts!

  19. Jason Wuest Avatar
    Jason Wuest

    This is appalling. Why are you not asking, cajoling, lobbying OTHER CITIES TO TAKE SOME OF THE BURDEN?!? I am street-connected going on five years.

    I’m housed but dirt poor and I know a lot of these people.

    We have more, and more, and more showing up every week.

    Do you know why?

    Because you’ve thrown out the welcome mat, you clown.

    Victoria has become known as the place to go, some police departments in other provinces even GIVE THEM BUS TICKETS TO COME HERE TO GET RID OF PEOPLE WHO ARE A PERSISTENT PROBLEM.

    I can prove it, too.

    Lisa, Victoria is taking on a disproportionate amount of this burden, and I, and many others, see you and your administration as responsible.

    Do you ever even think about contacting other mayors and asking them what the hell THEY are doing about it? Does it even occur to you? Because, lady, we’re FULL UP HERE. WE HAVE BEEN FOR YEARS.

    Stop it with these idiotic ideas that just encourage still more people to show up, stop encouraging the worst elements in this country to come here, stop rolling out a welcome mat!

    Now you have ANOTHER tent city, and more to come. I hear another is being planned. It is beyond belief that this completely stupid idea is your notion of a solution.

    If you have the stomach for it, go out and ask some of the homeless guys who’ve been around a while what they think of all these people showing up, why they thnk they’re showing up, and what they really think of you and your welcome mat. Might be an eye opener. Maybe “forget” to open a polling station at Our Place next election.

    1. Lisa Helps Avatar

      I am in contact with mayors across the country on a regular basis. They are all facing the same thing as we are here – not enough affordable housing. This is a national issue.

  20. Deryk Houston Avatar
    Deryk Houston

    Any ideas that might help ease the problem should be welcome. It is not meant to be a solution. I’d like to see the city offer people a tax reduction on their house taxes as an incentive to anyone who has a suite or a room to rent. High taxes are one of the biggest reasons (next to a mortgage) that people look at air BNB as a way to keep their heads above water. House taxes are drowning people and as taxes rise people are forced to look at other sources of income. The city of Victoria does not understand this idea. It remains a total mystery that people are not rioting in the street because of the lack of support for housing. (Just to be clear. I am not advocating violence. I am just surprised and making an observation that it seems odd that there is not more violence.) I believe that it is only a matter of time before people will snap…because they have nothing to lose.

  21. Rollie Rose Avatar
    Rollie Rose

    Why would a broke out of work and homeless person come to Victoria? (or stay in Victoria) One of the most expensive cities in Canada to live in, low vacancy rate, high rents and with very little in the way of easily attainable good paying jobs? ( especially if you don’t have family or good friends with an in somewhere) And why is city council doing their best to help them stay? To further their agony? I’m baffled by the amount time and resources being spent on people who don’t help themselves or society. Why not help single working parents who are struggling to make rent or mortgage payments and feed their kids. Priorities!!!! I would like to see those who do work every day and who are struggling helped first!!!!

    1. Lisa Helps Avatar

      People are coming here to work! And everyone in every sector from tourism to tech will tell you that they need more workers because business is booming. They will also tell you that when people come here for the jobs, they are having a hard time finding rental housing? Why? Read the blog post above. No new market rental buildings built in the city for 30 years! So now we have a booming economy and a housing shortage. We need more housing of all kinds across the housing ecosystem. And it is coming! In the meantime people need places to sleep, to rest.

      1. Shirl Avatar

        It’s a plaeruse to find someone who can think so clearly

  22. JS Avatar


    Comparing those directly affected by WWII to those currently experiencing a rental shortage is unfair to our veteran’s and their families.

    Where are the incentives for the homeowner’s. We assume all the risk. We bring strangers into our home on a flimsy tenancy agreement that heavily leans in favor of the renter. We carry the heavy mortgages in this spiraling housing market. Maybe you should consider creating incentives for those who actually OWN these properties, instead of strong arming us with new crack downs on short term rentals. I already provide rental housing for a family of four and a university student. I work full time as a carpenter building the cities new rental condo units in the heart of the city. I contribute heavily to the rental market here in Victoria in more ways than one. Today I read the city now wants to crack down on AirBnB to help solve the vacancy rate???

    Give me one good reason as to why I should stop using the AirBnB service, one, other than the one where you are forcing my hand to do so. I’d rather let my AirBnB unit sit vacant then rent to a homeless person from another province.

  23. christie point rental resident Avatar
    christie point rental resident

    We need help in View Royal at Christie Point – you say you speak with other Mayors? Can you please look into the renoviction of 161 families – approx 350 people? View Royal Mayor and Council are considering approval of a rezone to Realstar which will take away current housing at market rates and convert to high end luxury rentals. How can we thrown out of our current housing in a housing crisis? The development will take years to complete and affects home owner property values in the area. Maybe you can help View Royal Mayor and Council with your experience and out of the box thinking? They seem to want to approve it? Solution should be to get this deferred for a better time in the future? Thank you for your consideration.

    1. Bobby Avatar

      You’ve really helped me untesrdand the issues. Thanks.

  24. Db Avatar

    There are many people with physical health conditions on fixed or low incomes that Need to live in this city , because of its climate, lack of ice and cleaner air.Not everyone who is homeless has mental health or drug issues. Because of the centralizing of services in BC to the lower mainland and Victoria there also are many needing to live here,, I have been here 9 yrs ,,I came from the Northern BC and have seen the cuts in services .

  25. Carolyn Leblanc Avatar
    Carolyn Leblanc

    The housing crisis exists largely because of bad legislation that permits landowners to discriminate and force evictions just so that they can raise rents. A real solution is to change these bad laws. A secondary solution that the mayor has control over is to counter these laws for local landowners.

    Ie: require landowners seeking rental splitting of their homes to do so more widely provided they remain pet and child friendly.

    This real solution would open up that spare rooms that people already want to rent but are being prevented by stupid and discriminatory city bylaws.

    1. larry Avatar

      Carolyn is society wants to make home availability for persons let society do it and bear the cost. Why should property owners and investor’s have to bear the burden.

  26. DrSensei Avatar

    I really don’t like having strangers stay in my fortified home. People have many different motives. How many people really are honest and willing to be a model citizen. First, the legalization of marijuana is stupid. Clearly stupid! Those who have a medical prescription should be allowed to legally obtain it. Marijuana is a clearly a drug, how many people show up to work stoned or go to College or University stoned? People in poverty resort to drugs and alcohol addiction to escape into fantasy land. Ok. I am generalizing, but yet. I don’t trust anyone who is homeless. I strongly oppose this idea. It is purely dumb.

  27. […] “What if there was a way to connect people living in vehicles, in motel rooms, on couches, with seniors living in large houses all alone, with retirees with an extra bedroom, or even with families with large houses and extra rooms?” wrote Victoria mayor Lisa Helps in a post to her official website. […]

  28. […] “What if there was a way to connect people living in vehicles, in motel rooms, on couches, with seniors living in large houses all alone, with retirees with an extra bedroom, or even with families with large houses and extra rooms?” wrote Victoria mayor Lisa Helps in a post to her official website. […]

  29. Kira Avatar

    And I’m choked to yeah I live on a disability allowance and I’m lumped in with all these clowns who just want to come here and leech off the system… I know a lot of these people as well and I’ve been around this low-income Loop and in poverty for years seeing the sideshow and how it’s developed and evolved and it makes people like me really angry I’ve lived here my whole life and I still do not have proper housing that suits my medical needs, when I was born with my disabilities, and even more of a slap-in-the-face, born addicted to drugs, my birth parents are those DTES heroin junkies… so I have to deal with now the mental impairments because of that …and I’m clean living I don’t smoke I don’t do drugs I drink very rarely I’ve no criminal record I’m try to be a model Citizen and do the best I can with what I have, and then what happens , we get these really hardcore addicts from Vancouver who want to destroy the city with side, crystal meth, that’s how you can tell theyre from Van,, and who do not care, that’s why we’re finding needles everywhere and taped to handrails, what’s next!? Then every loser criminal junkie from all across Canada and the United States comes here to BC and right here to Victoria because of all this little barrier housing being opened and welcoming them …who do you think will barrier housing will attract and appeal to ??? People who are actively using on drugs or drinking, not people who want to recover, why would they want to be surrounded by that??? Just let the person stay the same and not change, there’s no real incentive reason or requirement to…and they’re the one to get all the help and I’ve had to fight and even use my parents and others as advocates to help me get the help I need which an addict can just easily walk in and get twice as much as me… the junkie gets Evermore…. what about those who are actually trying to help themselves where’s our reward for good behavior and then people like me get disregarded and ignored… in case nobody noticed I’m trying to be the anti and prove that not all of us are just leeching drug addict bums who sit around not wanting to work and just play the system …and who I feel really sorry for are other addicts who are living here and they actually do want to get clean and the system’s clogged by all these other parasites who have no good intention they just want to use the services to keep enabling and continuing their addiction that is complete abuse of the privilege… Help locals who have lived here the longest first and those who are following Law and Order and good behavior, is that not the kind of person you want living in this city???

  30. […] people have spare bedrooms, let the homeless sleep there for free. Here’s the full […]

  31. Erin Avatar

    Excuse me? I work my butt off only to barely afford rent… Can’t even afford my bills.. and I struggle to feed my family. I WORK HARD, and am barely scraping by, and you want me to open up my home to a homeless stranger? To endanger my children?? My mother is homeless, the one time i let her in she stole everything of value… I’m sorry to say, in most cases homelessness leads to addiction, mental illness…or a criminal lifestyle just to get by. And I dont blame them, you gotta do what you gotta do to survive, but I’m not going to put my children in such a dangerous situation! And shame on you for suggesting that i should! Im sure your house is huge, how about you open up your house to homeless strangers??! Let me know how that works out for you.
    How about you do your damn job! Stop making condos for the rich and trying to bullshit us that its “affordable”. BUILD AFFORDABLE HOUSING WE CAN ACTUALLY AFFORD. (incase you dont know what that means, it’s approximately $700 for a 2br) we would have so many homeless if you were building housing within the peoples realistic price range.
    Or start banning AirBnBs so that we can have places to rent again! There no homes left because everyone switched to AirBnB! MAKE IT STOP.
    Take care of your people damnit!!

    1. Lisa Helps Avatar

      Thanks Erin. On the weekend I will write a post about all the work we are doing to build more affordable rental housing for working people.

  32. westcoastingblog Avatar

    Love the idea anything we can do to help our community is at least worth talking about!

  33. Hazen Avatar

    This is without a doubt the most hairbrained idea I have ever heard of, what makes it even more laughable is that the Mayor won’t even offer up space in her home. Do as I say not as I do?

  34. BG Avatar

    This i seriously the stupidest plan i have heard of yet.Why would taxpayers sacrifice for a service where the onus is on the government. Are you going join the pilot project and let vagrants in your home Mayor Lisa? Dont push a plan on people that your are not willing to do yourself. lastly let the retirees live in peace and don’t put the burden on them. i understand it could be beneficial for retirees having stimulation and we live in a world where its could be lonely for them but the consequences far outweigh the latter. All your going to have is retirees getting taken advantage of all over think of it like a cra scam but its a person that lives in you house.

    1. BG Avatar

      And dont forget why there homeless in the first place. it is a mental health issue so treat it like a mental health issue. build a tent like they got at fraser pretrial or affordable housing. do something your not going to put this on the taxpayer. YOU need to utilize resources you have the power not us. its not like you cant do it. this is an issue that gets brushed aside because YOU are not doing something just comming up wtih terrible ideas so you can avoid it.

      1. Lisa Helps Avatar

        I’ll write a post soon about all the work we’re doing on getting more rentals and more affordable rentals built. I don’t think that any one thing will solve all problems.

  35. Sue Avatar

    Ahhh yes, the hypocrisy of socialism at its finest! Hopefully, this Mayor’s idea won’t spread like a bad weed to Ontario. We’ve already got enough ridiculousness from Premier Kathleen Wynne whose popularity is pretty much in the tenth percentile now. I can’t wait until she is voted out! However, if this bad weed of an idea does permeate eastward, my home is for my family and children ONLY! Do not apply within! Nuff said!

  36. Kyle Avatar

    Ha it is sad she has to cross post positive comments from FB to her blog. True sign of a narcissist.

    This is why you never elect an activist.

    Please go take a long walk off the still unfinished and currently not even being worked on bridge.

  37. […] In a post on her blog, Helps cited local newspaper headlines from the 1940s urging Victoria residents to open their homes to homeless workers participating in the war effort. […]

  38. Susan Rankin Avatar
    Susan Rankin

    I DO NOT consider this a SOLUTION.. This is not WARTIME or POST EARTHQUAKE or FIRE. This is the SITUATION NORMAL and requires LONG TERM solution not a BANDAID.

    NOBODY should be dependent on CHARITY to have a home in Canada.


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