Posted November 7, 2020
HALIFAX, N.S. — Rent control and affordable housing in Halifax Regional Municipality aren’t going to happen on their own, says Hannah Wood.
That’s why the chair of the Halifax-peninsula chapter of Nova Scotia Acorn hopes residents will join her and others for a rent control rally in Halifax on Saturday afternoon.
“We know this is going to be an ongoing type of thing, but we want to show them that there is support in the public and rent control needs to happen if we’re going to continue to grow as a province,” Wood said in an interview.
Wood said many members in Nova Scotia Acorn, a rental tenancy union of low- and moderate-income people, are on the edge of eviction or large increases in their annual rent.
“There are members who are making decisions about housing where it’s: Do I buy my medication or pay rent?” Wood said.
Janet Brush, who rents a two-bedroom apartment in Halifax, recently told The Chronicle Herald a unit in the building almost identical to hers jumped by about $400 and she expects the same when her lease ends in May.
Brush is one of many people in the municipality to see rent costs shoot up by hundreds of dollars when it’s lease renewal time as Nova Scotia doesn’t have rent control in place.
And when the tenant doesn’t renew their lease, they are left struggling to find another place.
The rental vacancy rate in HRM is one per cent or less, and Wood says many of those vacancies aren’t considered affordable.
According to Rentals.ca, the average cost of a one-bedroom apartment in Halifax is $1,399, while the average for a two-bedroom apartment is $1,742.
“A one-bedroom unit that’s $1,500 has been called affordable, but that’s not affordable based on the incomes that people make here,” she said.
“Just because there’s a $4,000 penthouse in the building doesn’t mean the $1,500 bachelor is a good deal.”
Wood said Nova Scotia Acorn will be joined by groups such as Dalhousie Legal Aid, Fight for 15 and other community members at the rally on Saturday.
“It’s an opportunity for people to come, hear these stories, get involved, join Acorn if they’re so inclined and learn how to organize their neighbours and fight back on this issue so we can fight rent control in Nova Scotia,” she said.
The rally is set for 2 p.m. at the Grand Parade in Halifax on Saturday. People planning to attend are asked to wear a mask and respect social distance protocols.
Article by Nicole Munro for the Chronicle Herald