WATCH: In an effort to address the housing crisis, Victoria’s mayor suggests people open their spare bedrooms to homeless people. April Lawrence reports.
In an effort to deal with the city's rental crisis, Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps is considering setting up a program to encourage residents to house homeless people in their spare rooms.
In a recent post on her website, Helps wrote that in Victoria in the 1940s during the Second World War, Victoria housed homeless people who moved to Victoria to help with the 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," Helps wrote.
She then wrote that from 1982 to 2012, there were no new purpose-built rental buildings and in the last five years, nearly 6,000 people have moved into the city.
This was followed by a suggestion that Victorians open their homes to those in need of accommodation.
"We’re facing a rental crisis," Helps said in the post.
"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."
Helps said she is working with citizens and businesses to look into the idea. She is asking for three people currently living in vehicles, on couches and in woodsheds and three people who might be willing to open their homes to join a focus group session.
Liza Rogers is a homeowner who has already signed up for the focus group.
Rogers owns a six-bedroom home in Vic West, and rents out her extra rooms for about $300 dollars a month and up.
She says people's biggest concern with the idea is likely because of their misconceptions about who is 'homeless.
"There are a lot of people who are living and working in the city and because of the housing crisis we have right now they are simply not able to find homes, so by definition they're homeless," she said.
Rogers has rented to about five people since August who were searching for a place to rent and says it has gone smoothly.
Helps said anyone interested should email [email protected].
According to the 2016 Greater Victoria Point In Time Court, there were 1,1387 homeless people in the area.