5. Useful Information

HIRRA Housing Committee Annual Report: April 2017

The new HIRRA Housing Committee began its first official year in April of 2016. The committee is an outgrowth of a series of more informal gatherings, the first of which happened in May, 2015. The results of that meeting were tabulated by Tony Law and are available on the HIRRA website.
The primary needs identified then were matchmaking between potential landlords and tenants, summer accommodation for workers and displaced tenants, making affordable housing units available, improving financing options, addressing regulatory barriers, and supporting ISLA.
A second meeting to create a working group took place in November of 2015. At that time, it seemed best to focus on people who are already on Hornby and helping them find secure housing so they can stay. It was noted that the pre-school is full. Ideas included use of an existing website, a rental village, and how could owners of second homes be enlisted to support year-round rentals, such as allowing caravans to be located on their properties or even a voluntary “tax” to support other efforts.
The group met again in January of 2016 and it was at that meeting that becoming a HIRRA committee would give significance to requests and other communications. It was also agreed that a summer survey would be helpful. The group went back and forth about the best ways to let people know that you are looking to rent or that you are an owner with a place to rent to others. Issues around privacy were of concern, and the idea was floated to have a mediator who could help out when there is conflict. Following this meeting, a request was submitted to the HIRRA executive and then to the assembly to officially create the committee.
In May of 2016, the committee held its first “official” meeting. At that time several ideas were explored which, in the end, did not produce actions to be pursued. Two things that were unexpected did happen then. The first is that the committee became a place where groups involved in housing could come together and share information. This has continued to the present, with members of HICEEC, Elder Housing, ISLA, and others participating. Second, it was suggested that the committee focus immediate attention on supporting the ISLA project, so that the entire community would be behind it. Both these developments were seen as positive and enthusiastically endorsed. In particular, this led to letters of support for ISLA and a meeting between the committee chair and Bruce Joliffe.
In addition, a summer survey was put together using a generous grant from HICEEC, to which 169 people responded. The executive summary reads as follows: 
The most significant finding is that contrary to the general assumption that presently Hornby does not have adequate rental supply to meet demand—that we are tapped or maxed out—in fact, with better communication, accountability, and with determined focus on the positive rental stories that we know exist in our community, the Housing Committee should be able to significantly transform the “crisis.” Respondents were supportive of developing an online platform to advertise those in need of renters, those in need of rentals, and also to facilitate private match-making. There are homes, right now, that people are not offering for rent that they are willing to rent provided the Housing Committee and our entire island can improve home owner confidence through a variety of strategic means. The above finding also demonstrates that both past and recent negative rental experiences should not be underestimated in determining the present crisis. These stories and experiences are overshadowing crisis mitigation. The survey also revealed the challenges of the Islands Trust’s new Temporary Use Permit and Secondary Suite policy.​
Based on these responses, the committee has undertaken or will soon undertake the following:
1. We decided that a web page as part of the HICEEC.org website was the best way to go. The chair had a meeting with Daniel Arbour and all is ready to begin.
2. We decided to place notices over the summer designed to correct the one major error in the survey which is that we didn’t give people the option to contact us if they had a place to offer as a rental.
3. A major focus is to change the narrative about rentals on Hornby by collecting “success” stories and placing them in The First Edition and on the website. Interview questions have already been created along with the beginnings of a list of people to interview.
4. The website can become a place where both those seeking and those offering rentals can notify each other. We further decided that such notices would be anonymous and that one person would know each person by name and would arrange meetings through personal contacts. In addition, we will add the possibility of people offering storage space.
5. We would discuss with the three trained mediators we know of on the island whether they would be available to help with landlord-tenant conflict. One has already agreed.
6. We will draft a sample tenancy agreement for Hornby Island. We learned that such agreements are actually legally required. We want one that will satisfy that requirement and, at the same time, express it in language which reflects our shared values.
7. We will draft a revision of “The Hornby Way” which will include attention to the reasons why everyone who loves Hornby is encouraged to think about housing.
Other ideas, such as a free loan society to help both owners and renters, were noted and placed on the back burner for now.

Respectfully submitted
Daniel Siegel, Chair

​​​​​ Adequate, “work-force” housing on Hornby, ownership and rentals, is among the most pressing issues facing our community. Without affordable accommodation we risk losing vital people, necessary to sustain Hornby through their work and cultural contributions.
Because the narrative is frequently driven by stories of negative renting experiences, a series of interviews will appear in the First Edition focusing on the flip side - those renters and landlords who have largely positive viewpoints.

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             Interview 2 – Continuing Series on Housing Sustainability – Andrea Rutz 
Blissful Bodywork is not an auto body shop for the car whose dents are in need of spiritual repair. It is the business of Andrea Rutz who provides restorative massage, promoting health in body and soul. She works from the home she and her husband Dean have rented for four years. To provide such a service year round requires a permanent space. Such stability allows Andrea to plan and offer continuous service to clients. She claims that this long term rental continuity is of benefit in a number of domestic domains, including the aforementioned operation of her home business, the ability to home-school her daughters without disruption and the importance for her and her family of making a house a home.
Andrea and Dean have been on Hornby for 17 years. During that time they have lived in two homes, both 12 month rentals. Andrea knows Hornby renters who have had to vacate their homes frequently. She says these moves are typically attended by the angst of having to find alternative accommodation in a tight time frame, not to mention the accompanying disruption that negatively impacts family life.
Asked for her thoughts as to how more renters could be accommodated on Hornby, Andrea wondered if potential landlords might be reluctant to rent because of their concern for the deleterious effect on renters of having to vacate their home for the summer months. She floated the idea of creating  adequate, short-term, summer housing for people dispossessed of their homes during the summer season. Perhaps landlords would be more amenable to a 10 month rental knowing there were decent living alternatives for July and August. What this temporary housing might look like and how it might be financed would require further thought and community input.
Andrea and Dean believe in doing their part to maintain a home. As Dean is a skilled woodworker, sometimes an arrangement is made with the landlord for work done against the rent. Other jobs around the home – cleaning gutters, the chimney or gardening, are taken on out of a sense of pride of place. This sort of sweat equity in a rental property not only provides personal satisfaction but benefits the landlord too, as a home maintained retains its value. 
Landlords and tenants, through the development of such trust and respect, foster a working relationship that can be a boon to both.
Submitted by

Dick Brown
                            Interview 1 - Masoud Zadeh
I met with Masoud, a well-known potter and Hornby resident of 20 years in his studio, over a cup of green tea and ginger snap cookies. He has a long-term lease on the studio that sits on a stunning 10-acre parcel of land overlooking Lambert Channel, Denman and Vancouver Islands. 
A wood fire burned vigorously, casting a rich glow over the space, illuminating his mugs, platters and vases. His artistic production affirms his premise that productivity and creativity thrive with stability.
Despite his positive views on the potential of renting, Masoud acknowledges that frequent moves are the norm for many Hornby residents, resulting in disruption, displacement and not surprisingly, displeasure. The seasonal​ dynamic that finds many renters having to vacate over the fair weather months, is a fact of life on Hornby. Masoud says adaptability under these challenging conditions is called for, as renters scramble to find alternatives over the summer, often resorting to camping or couch surfing. He thinks of this as a Hornby survival skill.
Life on this gorgeous island can be enriching in ways not measured monetarily, Masoud claims. For those choosing lifestyle over financial gain, home ownership may be out of the question. Renting becomes the alternative.
Two themes emerged from our conversation: 1. Forging a good relationship between landlord and tenant via written rental agreements, specifically detailing rights, responsibilities and financial commitments. 2. The implementation of a registry of landlords and tenants with the aim of finding 'good fits' between the two. Naturally, the information collected would need to meet ethical and regulatory guidelines.
There are many dwellings on Hornby that could be offered for rent. Masoud believes that reluctant home owners might be more amenable to renting if they felt confident they could be matched with someone who would respect and treat their places with care, laying the foundation of a positive rental relationship, in which mutual respect and consideration are constructed.
                                                                             Dick Brown

4. Housing Interviews & Success Stories

Housing (page two)