Vancouver mourns death of housing advocate Ulrike Rodrigues

Vancouver housing advocate Ulrike Rodrigues, who fought to stop Airbnb and other short-term rentals platforms displacing renters, has died at the age of 59 from neurological complications, her family announced today.

Rodrigues, who founded the “Homes not Hotels” movement in Vancouver, advocated for stronger regulation and more effective enforcement of short-term rentals in a city gripped by a housing crisis.

In 2019, Rodrigues compiled a comprehensive report to Vancouver City Council citing 47 gaps in the short-term regulation bylaws that allowed illegal short-term rental operators to carry on with business as usual[1]Unintended Opportunities
A citizens’ review of Vancouver’s new short-term rental
regulation system, and 12 ideas to make it better.

In the report, Rodrigues made 12 recommendations to address those gaps in the short-term rental regulatory framework, including setting a cap on the number of nights an operator can list a unit, and negotiating a more meaningful memorandum of understanding with Airbnb.

Rodrigues, a writer who enjoyed cycling and travelling, considered herself an accidental activist.

“I created the Homes Not Hotels Facebook page to increase awareness of the effect of Airbnb (and websites like it) on housing, especially in shared rental and condo apartment buildings,” Rodrigues said in 2019. “It contributes to unavailability, unaffordability, increased rents, and increased home prices.”

“I love to travel, but I also love my home,” Rodrigues said in 2019. “And I hate what Airbnb is doing to homes around the world.”

Rodrigues led a five year battle to shut down a large scale commercial operator who had converted 10% of the units in her condo building into vacation accommodation listed on Airbnb.

Rodrigues and her neighbours celebrated victory earlier in 2020 when B.C. Civil Resolution Tribunal ordered Zulkider Jiwa to stop using them as tourist accommodation[2]

Rodrigues, who spent her youth in Guelph, Ontario moved to Vancouver in her late twenties.

“A few months ago Ulrike started experiencing symptoms of loss of memory, difficulty writing and using the computer, and fatigue resulting in her quitting her job to pursue testing,” said a statement by her family. “Sadly the problem was more severe and acute than anyone realized, and she passed away before her scheduled MRI appointment later in the month.”

Rodrigues willed her apartment to Atira Women’s Resource Society to be used as furnished housing, and her savings to create an endowment fund called Basic Needs + Mitey Deeds – a legacy fund to connect women and girls to shelter, support, and potential.

References   [ + ]