On Being Treated Like You’re Expendable and Telling Your Landlord to Get a Real Job

Tea & Two Slices is a long-running local news round-up by NEEDS frontman and veteran dishwasher Sean Orr, who lives and works in Gastown, deeply aware of his privilege.

Remember when we were all upset about a spinning chandelier? That feels like years ago. And while I have no desire to go back to refuting YIMBY talking points, or parsing the anti-poor bias of comments in The Province, or navigating the tricky terrain of settler-colonial politics with a newfound intensity rooted in class consciousness; I just wish things could go back to normal…

By the time this is published rent will be due. I’m worried sick about my friends and our government has only offered carrots. Our landlord premier offered a $500 subsidy to be paid directly to landlords: ‘Extreme stress and turmoil’:$500-a-month rental subsidy welcomed, but uncertainty remains. This is a recipe for disaster, exacerbating the already tenuous relationship between tenants and those people that collect their hard-earned money, all because provincial leadership lacks the courage to actually step in and do what needs to be done in a crisis.

And while a moratorium on evictions sounds as though a de facto rent strike is possible and that people can choose to feed themselves and their families first, what happens in four months? According to the government website, “a tenant who has not paid rent could face eviction once the state of emergency is over.” Great, so all it does is buy us time so we can organize? It’s better than nothing, I guess.

Still, your landlord may have questions. And as satisfying as it might be, you probably aren’t going to tell them to get a real job. It must be hard living on (your tenant’s) paycheque to (your tenant’s) paycheque. Alas, here are some answers for them:

Of course, there are some silver linings: After Years of Hoarding Housing Supply, Airbnb Hosts Are Panicking.

Exhibit B: US loses 500,000 millionaires as coronavirus pandemic erodes fortunes of ultra-wealthy.

At any rate, it looks like we’re in it for the long haul: ‘Zero chance’ of orders being lifted before May, as COVID-19 cases in B.C. surpass 1,000. (Sean: do not make a comment about having your birthday party in isolation.)

So, today I learned the Canadian government committed to clinical trials of a human coronavirus vaccine after the 2003 SARS epidemic, but then neglected to provide the necessary funding for the trials to proceed. Austerity kills, indeed. What does the COVID-19 endgame look like? Five simple steps.

Multiply that by the fact that we have a weird racist problem of denying foreign doctors of accreditation: Lift barriers to accredit foreign-educated doctors quickly, report’s author urges.

Your disdain for the working class is showing: Bars, nightclubs and cannabis growers don’t qualify for BDC COVID-19 loans. What the actual fuck? How much tax revenue do alcohol sales generate? Sometimes I hate our country.

In part because we’re treated like we’re expendable: Hospitality workers’ union says 90% of members have lost their jobs in past 2 weeks. Unite Here Local 40 has some demands:

1) Implement an immediate 80 per cent wage replacement, including tips for tipped workers.
2) Give hospitality workers the proper health and safety training and opportunities for employment in government-organized emergency initiatives utilizing existing hospitality and food service infrastructure.
3) Extend medical benefits as a part of an industry relief package.

Also, can I just throw this in there? Nationalize Food Delivery Apps and Turn Them Into a Public Food Service. I heard rumblings of a local restaurant owned delivery company co-op and I’m here for it.

Why we cheer: Hospital cleaners ‘working full tilt’ despite COVID-19 threat. Anyone who is risking their life should be paid like they are risking their life. And if you don’t wanna hear it from me you can hear it from Plies:

Indeed. Someone on Twitter was asking for predictions on the first celebrity marriage collapse of the self isolation, forgetting of course that they aren’t holed-up in 800 sqft boxes like the rest of us: ‘White-Collar Quarantine’ Over Virus Spotlights Class Divide.

Capitalism is suffering a crisis of legitimacy that is going to get considerably worse. Instacart, Whole Foods, GE, and Amazon workers are walking off the job.

Meanwhile, in Canada: Burnaby residents claim no social distancing in Trans Mountain construction. The unstoppable march of capital must continue untethered!

It’s why Vancouver Council is continuing to hold public rezoning meetings even though members of the public can’t attend: Vancouver considers virtual hearings for rezoning applications amid COVID-19 outbreak.

Nobody: ______.
The Fraser Institute: Price controls and anti-gouging laws make matters worse.

Ah yes, the benevolent invisible hand of capitalism will save us all! Meanwhile, the government is bailing out banks, airlines, and oil companies (when Alberta oil is worth less than a barrel of monkeys). “But…but…the free market can’t have any intervention!” lmfao. These are the same people who tell us we should be able to survive on $120 a week. Motherfuckers.

Of course, the same people who got us into this mess are the same people who don’t think it’s much of a mess: Which Canadians say pandemic threat is ‘overblown’? And how are they behaving in turn? Spoiler alert: males between the ages of 34-55 who voted Conservative think COVID-19 is ‘overblown’. Surprised?

One bright spot in the above survey is that only 19% of British Columbians think it’s overblown, which might explain PHOTOS: Deserted downtown Vancouver during the COVID-19 pandemic. Wait, I can’t tell if those are before or after photos of Robson Street.

How many hotels are deserted? House the Homeless in Hotels. Look, Toronto is doing it, so is San Francisco. So can we.

Las Vegas on the other hand? Las Vegas homeless people are sleeping in a parking lot — six feet apart. At least we’re not that bad.

Nope, we’re exactly that bad: Open Letter to the Greater Vancouver Food Bank. In the midst of a pandemic, we are making it harder for the most marginalized people to get food access? Unreal.

Some good news: Safe supply of drugs for DTES residents given green light, says Vancouver. Now let’s make it permanent.

More good news: Pay parking suspended at all BC hospitals. Now let’s make it permanent.

Also: U.S. troops not heading to Canadian border amid pandemic. Did they realize there isn’t a chance in hell anyone is going to try and cross into that dystopian hellhole?

This is super cool: B.C. companies step up to build medical equipment, ventilators for hospitals.

Vancouver would be cooler if… Goats take over empty Welsh streets during coronavirus lockdown.

Bonus: A Guy From Brooklyn Sees A Girl Dancing On A Roof, Sends Her A Drone With His Number On It.

There are 35 comments

  1. This is by far the most unbelievably naive thing I’ve read during this crisis. Love that you think people who own rental properties are ‘living on someone else’s paycheck’. Like if you don’t pay your rent, I’m supposed to magically have the money to cover you. It just doesn’t work thst way. There’s lots of people advocating for rent strikes not because they can’t pay their rent, but because even though they can, they feel they shouldn’t need to. How is providing a credit to help you cover your rent bad? If you actually can’t pay the rent, then thst credit will help you put $500 of your money to other use than paying rent, but your landlord still isn’t screwed. You have to understand that if landlords cant pay their mortgages, then they could face losing their property, and maybe even their primary residence. But I guess they should somehow pull money out of thin air for that. I dont understand this approach of trying to create unnecessary animosity between tenants and landlords, instead of encouraging people to work together. I guess maybe you had a bad landlord at some point and are jaded? Were not all like that.

  2. Just about every one of your comments show a complete misunderstanding of how our fanancial systems actually work.

    You’re.doing little more than showing your schadenfreude inner thoughts in this piece.

    Excuse me, but your envy is showing.

    What is it ok for people to wish for landlords to crash and burn and yet, you never heard the same kind of thing from someone who actually owns and provides rental real estate, say the same about anybody, blet alone the people they are dealing with. Landlords don’t wish the worst for tenants, in fact, it’s in their interests that there tenants do as well as they can, but even landlords need to pay the bills… That how it actually works… And, for the most part, there is extremely tiny margins on real estate. Most people who rent out 1, 2 or 3 homes literally require every rent payment to come in to pay the mortgage. So how is it fair for anyone to suggest otherwise?

    Regarding hospitality workers my heart goes out to them. They are a casualty of government mandated policies put in place to keep the whole population safe anf they deserve full benefits. Unfortunately, they are also victims of the way hospitality and wait-staffing in particular works.
    Many still do not claim tips as income, which to be clear is illegal. They benefit from these non-declared sources of income during good times and they suffer due to their not declaring them during bad times. They still deserve to be insured for a portion of their employment income loss during this, perhaps all of it, but let’s not diminish the fact that, at least, regarding tips the legal income requirements are often not followed and therefore that extra portion of their hardship may be due to their own dishonesty in past.

    I suggest if hospitality workers require more money to live and function that they fight for higher pay through the regular channels when times are good and thus are more Lilley to obtain favourable outcomes.

    This is a pandemic. It’s not time to play partisan politics and spout divisive commentaries, or class warfare, shame on you! People are dying in places that haven’t shut down completely and dying to a much more limited extent where they have. This is a time for unity. A time to tighten all of our belts…. Not just in the future when we pay this hideously gigantic bill that will be coming due, but to gather together, (figuratively not literally) and help our neighbours. Landlords should be flexible for real, reliable tenants that have a real need. Unfortunately, there are many tenants who will be taking advantage of this eviction moratorium and many landlords will be the ones who suffer financial hardship during this event.

    We also need to support our people who work in industries, like hospitality, which are the most hardest impacted by this crisis. Giving a helping hand in times like this, that’s part of our social responsibility to each other. Show generosity, empathy and compassion to all during this time that is the type of behaviours that will lessen the impact of the consequences of this pandemic.

    Perhaps most of all everyone needs to remember, no one caused this… No social or demographic group, no race, no individual and no government is causing these hardships that many face during this time. It’s not a time to lay blame, start a riot, class warfare, partisan politics, or become overwhelmingly despondent over our situation.
    It’s time to give. It’s time to help. It’s time to make a difference. It’s time to remain positive and stoic in the face of this biological threat to the very existence of every human being on earth because we don’t know who this will take away from us. It could be our parents, our children, our siblings or it could be you.

    If you get it, you’ll definitely want someone (your social community) and a functioning healthcare system there for you.

  3. Jack, I’m not wishing for landlords to crash and burn in this piece, I’m asking them not to profit during this crisis. If that is a problem, then investment properties are the only investment in the world that expect ZERO loss, which is absolutely crazy.

    My god you are full of crazy assumptions: “They benefit from these non-declared sources of income during good times”. Most servers declare tips. You should be more mad at the billions of dollars in offshore tax havens that the 1% hide.

    “I suggest if hospitality workers require more money to live and function that they fight for higher pay through the regular channels”. yeah, we’re working on it. How is this mutually exclusive in any way?

    Class warfare has been waged against the working class for eons. Just because we’re fighting back doesn’t mean we’re starting it pal. “This is a pandemic. It’s not time to play partisan politics and spout divisive commentaries” If not when the entire system is showing how fragile it is, then when exactly?

    “Perhaps most of all everyone needs to remember, no one caused this”. Wrong. We created a system of austerity and bare-bones government that is totally vulnerable to things like pandemics or climate change. It’s entirely their fault for not creating a more just and equitable society that leaves millions of marginalized people at the mercy of the elites. They are not the ones who suffer, we are. And it’s designed that way.

  4. This is a crazy article. Most landlords have huge expenses and will only profit if they actually sell their rental properties. In the meantime, they are actually providing an essential service whereby people who cannot afford to purchase real estate can still live somewhere. That IS exactly how the system works. It’s not the landlords’ fault that a tenant can’t afford to buy. Plus, there have been many stories about wealthier landlords and real estate companies allowing tenants to defer without complaint. if there are insanely wealthy landlords out there who don’t even need their tenants’ rent cheques and yet are harassing their tenants for money and being unreasonable then those are isolated cases and your animosity should be directed solely at these people. But please do not spread bitterness and vitriol at the general population.

  5. No I think most people just understand that landlords aren’t the evil enemy you are making them out to be. Not everyone wants to buy real estate or can afford to buy real estate. Hence why we need a rental market.

  6. I was a landlord & hubby and I both work full time (probably in a job much more “real” than the author of this piece!) Hubby is a truck driver & I am a Social Service Worker. Having a little apartment rented out at the back of our house to help pay our mortgage hardly makes us wealthy. I guess grocery stores should give away groceries, gas should be free for everyone (especially those of us who are “essential” services & can’t sit safely at home disapproving of others!

  7. This article sounds so entitled. Paying rent is the same as any other expense. I don’t hear people saying to forgo paying their car loan or hydro bill, why only rent?

    The landlord’s use the rent money to pay the mortgage and taxes. Rarely do people live off of rental income. If you can’t pay your bills that is not the landlord or any other creditors fault. Bills are not optional.

  8. If you renting or going to rent cover your self take pictures of the property you going to rent before you move in and after you move out dont trust any landlord I did coast me $12000 to that asshole.

  9. By renting, you take the risk of being evicted if you’re in a situation where income stops. It’s up to the renters to save up money to ensure themselves from being evicted if they lose their job. Don’t rent a place so expensive that you can’t afford to save any money for emergencies. Should be common sense. I work at a pizza place for minimum wage, and I was smart enough to rent a very cheap very low quality apartment simply because it’s affordable enough that I can save enough money if I become unemployed. Also was that JJ guy who commented JJ McCullough?

  10. “By renting, you take the risk of being evicted if you’re in a situation where income stops.”

    By investing in an investment property, you take the risk of a negative return on your investment

  11. “This article sounds so entitled. Paying rent is the same as any other expense”.

    This comment sounds so entitled. Investment properties are the same as any other investment.

    ” I don’t hear people saying to forgo paying their car loan or hydro bill, why only rent?”” Then why did BC Hydro offer a $600 emergency deferral?

    “The landlord’s use the rent money to pay the mortgage and taxes.”
    Which they can defer. Are you insisting on making a profit?

    “Rarely do people live off of rental income”. *Citation needed

  12. Sean Orr not sure where you’re getting your information from. Banks in Canada have not been giving mortgage deferrals to landlords, it’s not that simple. I’m not sure who hired you to be a ‘journalist’?!

  13. Your publication has revealed itself to be nothing more than a soundboard for resentful and entitled idiots!!

  14. Thanks Carolyn. We’ll consider adding that to the Lexicon.

    Renters | subspecies | Resentful and entitled idiots.

  15. At no point did I state that renters are entitled idiots. I was referring to your idiotic writer and his poorly researched drivel.

  16. Oh, ok. Sorry. For a second there I thought you were being insulting and dismissive in your lengthy series of comments. Thanks for clarifying.

  17. I see the outpatients/trolls are out in force. They’d be mildly amusing if the delusions they’re spouting didn’t have disastrous real-world consequences.

    Sean, you’re in good company:

    “We had to struggle with the old enemies of peace – business and financial monopoly [Hi there, Mr. Bezos!], speculation [poster children: Vancouver real estate investors], reckless banking [enabling the speculators], class antagonism [plenty of that on display above], sectionalism [Brexit, Wexit, etc.], war profiteering [Hello, Fraser Institute!]. They had begun to consider the Government of the United States as a mere appendage to their own affairs. We know now that Government by organized money is just as dangerous as Government by organized mob. … They are unanimous in their hate for me – and I welcome their hatred.” (Franklin Roosevelt, 1936)

    Keep on offending people in desperate need of being offended.

  18. Third, please answer my question. If all your costs are covered, do you insist on making a profit?

  19. Half a million is not nearly enough to cover every person. Many banks have been giving landlords a hard time with mortgage deferrals. Actually the relief money to renters and income subsidies to anyone out of work add up to way more than that half a million for banks/mortgage lenders. And, yes, I have a right to make profit off of renting. This is not The Soviet Union, thank God. Just like any other business. Would I do it in this crisis? No. But it’s not a bad thing in general and you would do the same if given the opportunity. As would most people.

  20. The landlord is providing you use of their property for money. It is a purely financial transaction. No one gets into a financial transaction without expecting profit. It is the same as working at a restaurant, you exchange time for money. Does a workplace expect work without pay because they can’t afford to pay? I know if my boss wanted me to work but told me I wouldn’t be paid I would find other work.

  21. “How much tax revenue do alcohol sales generate?”

    For each billion collected, about $1.5 billion is spent on the societal and personal costs.

  22. Well there it is. “We’re not evil people” and “making a profit when tenants lose their jobs due to a pandemic is not a bad thing” just don’t add up. Pretty much sums it up.

  23. The naif who wrote that “by investing you take the risk of a negative return” will appeal to those who have and will never invest. There are many more principles and strategies that apply.

    One is to simply limit or eliminate risk by “cutting your losses.” Tenants would be foolish to push housing providers to those limits, otherwise they’ll find themselves out on the street flat on their assets. And become familiarized with another metric; the region’s vacancy rate.

  24. Another shout-out to the Fraser Institute for its endorsement of pandemic profiteering:


    “‘The seller, a Burnaby resident, showed up to the pre-arranged location, driving a luxury vehicle. A police officer approached the man and informed him he would be receiving a $500 bylaw ticket for operating with no business license. Police took possession of 60 masks, for which the seller was asking $1,200,’ according to a release from Delta Police.”

    As so often in writing about crime, it’s the closely observed detail that really makes this piece shine: “driving a luxury vehicle”. Kudos to the unheralded prose stylist writing press releases for the Delta police department.

  25. D.Alyson, thanks for showing exactly why landlords are the enemy. “ otherwise they’ll find themselves out on the street flat on their assets.“. Housing is a right, everyone needs a home. Your investment is our home. We are NOT second class citizens and frankly, fed up with being treated as such.

  26. I am a 35 year old “MALE” who voted conservative and no I don’t think this is over blown. I would say males 50 and older think this lockdown is over blown. Especially in my city! I am one of those expendable construction workers who is still stuck on the job site where its business as usual.

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