Study says B.C.’s housing policies mean drug users can be targeted for eviction

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VANCOUVER — A new study says B.C. government policies are allowing landlords to evict drug users in Vancouver’s rooming houses and there’s little or no recourse for tenants to defend themselves against a practice that is often illegal and creates a risk of overdose.

Drug user/Shutterstock

The study by the BC Centre on Substance Use says low-income tenants living in private and non-profit single-room occupancy units are targeted specifically for their drug use and often evicted without notice.

It says dispute resolution measures under the Residential Tenancy Act are often inaccessible, especially if tenants’ belongings have been tossed out and they become homeless.

The study, published in the International Journal of Drug Policy, involved 50 low-income people living in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.

Research scientist Ryan McNeil says the policies are threatening the overall health of vulnerable people and must be changed.

Vancouver’s bylaws define so-called single-room occupancy units as hotels or rooming houses with less than about 320 square feet that typically include shared bathrooms and come without full kitchens.