Stephanie Smith

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Biography

submitted by the candidate or their team
I'm a labour and social justice activist living in a Downtown Eastside housing co-operative. I've worked in community service since the 1990s, as a legal advocate and union activist, where I've advised and represented thousands of tenants, social benefits recipients, and workers.

Working alongside people in this way you start to identify systemic issues, and want to work on systemic change. I’ve worked with provincial and city staff, grassroots political groups, my labour council, the BC Poverty Reduction Coalition, done public legal education work, trained other legal advocates - anything I can do to try to change the conditions that are causing so many people in Vancouver to live without a sense of security.

Reason for running

submitted by the candidate or their team
I want a city where every Vancouverite has a future. On Council I will work hard to create better renter protections, champion truly affordable housing, support the city’s arts and culture workers, and build the security people need to live and thrive in their communities.

Housing affordability and tenants’ rights are largely a mirage in this brutally speculative real estate city. So many of the problems that we face result from a rapidly widening income and wealth inequality gap and profound social and economic insecurity. Wages aren't keeping up with the cost of living, and many tenants are one renoviction, demoviction or layoff away from being forced out of the city forever. Average renter households - where the 2016 census median income was $50,250 a year — are largely ignored by policymakers and funders. Many of the people who live in those households are workers who make the city work, and they deserve to be included in our vision of what this city can be.

If you are a tenant in Vancouver, I want to protect your rental housing by stopping evictions for profit, with rent stabilization, right of first refusal at the same rent when landlords want to renovict, rate of change rules that direct development away from existing affordable rentals, and using rental-only zoning to zone for real affordability. Right now, we could build the entire city out with what Vancouver defines as social housing, and get zero units that are affordable to the average renter household. That must change. And I'm committed to housing adequacy - a standard used by the United Nations - so that Vancouver ensures that housing is big enough for you and your family, has access to amenities like schools and parks and public services. We’re in an affordability crisis, but city-building that doesn’t meet its residents’ needs is not the route forward.