"We have got all these people coming to live in British Columbia and we need places for them to stay," he said.
"I know nurses who have been recruited to work here having to share accommodation with two or three others while they try to find a place to live," said Wright.
"We can't just stack people up."
The warning of an impending loss of substantial amounts of rental housing is contained in an interim report from Coriolis Consulting Corp., which provided a risk analysis of older rental units in the Metro area that were likely to be demolished and the properties redeveloped.
The Coriolis study looked at the "tipping point" of older proper-ties - the point where the value of a property as a development site is equal to or greater than its value as a rental property.
The report found that in Metro Vancouver, there are approximately 100,000 purpose-built rental buildings of four units or more, constructed before 1980.
About 47,000 are located out-side Vancouver and the report found that 13 per cent (6,110) may be at risk in the short term while in the next 10 years the number is projected to rise to 30 per cent.
The report did not include figures for potential rental property losses in Vancouver.
Coriolis did a study in 2009 for Vancouver that raised concerns that 21 per cent of the city's rental stock could be redevelopment candidates by 2019.
It was the findings from the Vancouver study that prompted Metro to order a risk assessment for other municipalities.
The full Coriolis report is expected to be received by Metro Vancouver's housing committee in mid-May.
Wright said the units now under threat were built to pro-vide economical housing.
"It used to be a good way to give housing to younger people but we haven't been building any for 20 or more years," said Wright.
The rental housing sector is under stress from developers wanting to demolish units in order to build condos, he said.
"We need to get ahead of the situation; it's no use running scared. We need a plan to increase the number of rental housing units," said Wright, who wants the federal tax incentives restored.
This week, he'll be attending a national meeting on housing issues in Newfoundland.
"This is an issue that will be talked about there. It's constantly coming up. We're all trying to do something in our own provinces but we need now to get together," said Wright.
But so-called "renovictions" can be subtle and happen in existing buildings without full demolition.
Vancouver-West End NDP MLA Spencer Chandra Herbert said tenants will have to band together if they hope to fight off the few "bad apple" landlords who want to "kick people out to jack up rents" by using planned renovations as a way to transfer low-rent properties into those with higher value.
"The big issue is tenants need to be able to push back and see if there are permits in place and what the permits entail," Herbert said. "If they can prove the renovation does not require [vacancy], then they can win in the residential residency branch." Landlords are sup-posed to evict only for major renovations, like structural or electrical repairs. "Unfortunately it's being used in cases where they just want to slap on a coat of paint," he said.
Once evicted, many tenants have no recourse. "Unfortunately, many people find them-selves on their own," Herbert said. What's required is "a group commitment and a friendly lawyer" to fight the renoviction at the provincial residential tenancy branch.
"The most vulnerable are the ones who get it the worst, the ones without the financial resources or without that community support," he said. Recent renoviction attempts have occurred in buildings largely occupied by seniors and low-income tenants.
Vancouver city Coun. Geoff Meggs, vice-chair of Metro's housing committee, said the issue is serious, "but we're not yet at the critical stage."
"These buildings [under threat] are typically three-storey, wood frame construction with a central hallway and were built thanks to federal tax incentives. Since that incentive was removed, rental construction has ground to a halt," said Meggs.
A few years ago, the city implemented a three-year plan to increase the number of rental units by relaxing such things as parking requirements and allowing greater site density if developers agreed to build units that would be rented for 60 years.
"It doubled or tripled the number of rental units being built. But it was not cheap housing. The rents are at the upper end of the market," said Meggs.
The program has been discontinued while its effectiveness is being assessed, said Meggs.
"It is under study by the may-or's affordable housing task force and a report is expected by June," said Meggs.
"We may see a revival of the policy but what we would like to see is cheaper rental stock. The units that are being threatened are the older, affordable units. We'd prefer to allow redevelopment while retaining affordability, but that's the hard thing to do.
"You can't knock a building down and replace it and be expected to charge the same rent," said Meggs.