Fair Housing for Toronto Tenants

Toronto ACORN members have fought a multi-year campaign to improve rental apartment standards for tenants.

Toronto Sun: Tenant issues need voice, rally told

August 12th, 2010 by Kevin Connor - Toronto Sun

Tenants’ issues must be front and centre in the next municipal election, a rally heard on Thursday.

“We are having this action to encourage tenants to vote and we have invited mayoral candidates and council candidates to hear their views,” said ACORN’S Edward Lantz, adding the organization has three main issues for the October vote.

First, the Association of Community Organization for Reform Now wants changes made to the city’s licence standards department.

“These people audit highrise buildings. To date, there are 6,000 highrises in the city and 80% are in disrepair. Over the last two years the inspectors were only in 300 buildings and that is because there are only 13 inspectors. It is going to be a long time to get up to code,” Lantz said.

“In the units with the real problems we need to add more inspectors. Slum lords in Toronto must be regulated.”

ACORN also wants landlords to pay a tenant protection fee to fund the expansion of the inspection program.

“It wouldn’t cost the city a cent,” Lantz said.

Inside Toronto: Smitherman vows 'all-out war' against bedbugs

August 13th, 2010 by Mike Adler - Inside Toronto

George Smitherman says as Toronto's mayor he will "fight the all-out war" that must be waged against bedbugs.

"And some of that will be tough love too, because in some of these buildings our neighbours won't let us in to do what's necessary," said Smitherman, who added the city hasn't done enough to remove the blood-sucking insects in private or public housing.

Other mayoral candidates and hopefuls for council or school board seats gave their views on tenant issues to dozens of activists at an outdoor rally this week.

Organizers from ACORN - the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now - said they are determined to raise the city's low tenant voter turnout this fall and let renters know which candidates share their views.

"We want to let every candidate in the city know that we refuse to be ignored," added Edward Lantz, organizer of the group's St. Jamestown chapter.

ACORN, which last month lobbied to get more polling stations in Toronto apartments, said it sent members into nearby highrises to talk to residents during the Thursday afternoon event on a lawn behind Wellesley Community Centre.

 

$100 million in repairs for tenants

$100,000,000.00 in repairs by landlords and inspectors sent to all 5,000+ of the city's high-rise buildings.

That's what 6 years of tenant organizing by Toronto ACORN and countless hours of dedicated members have earned.

The City brought in an enhanced apartment inspection program developed after pressure from Toronto ACORN and tenant groups late last year and now estimate it has resulted in $100 millions in repairs by landlords.  Further, Municipal Licensing and Standards is now sending inspectors to all 5,000+ highrises across Toronto to perform basic audits to find and target the worst buildings for increased inspections.

The program falls short of the comprehensive system of landlord licensing that Toronto ACORN has long campaigned.  Toronto ACORN members have fought for a system with hard financial penalties on negligent  landlords who refuse to maintain their buildings up the legal code.  Toronto ACORN members have held community actions, rallied at city hall, given deputations, and held city wide housing forums to build public support and awareness of the Toronto’s deteriorating housing stock and the need for reform.

ACORN members remain proud of this tremendous progress that has been made and remain committed to working with the City to expand and improve the enhanced inspection program.

Tenants, allies join forces for tenant protection fee

On March 20th, Toronto ACORN held a forum with community leaders from across the city to renew our commitment to winning a proactive system of apartment inspection in the city.  ACORN members described to the 100+ person audience the long history of our housing campaigns in Toronto and the progress we’ve made up to this point.

At the municipal level, 7 City Councillors attended the event and all signed on to support the levying of a tenant protection fee on large landlords to fund a proactive inspection regime.  Further, they committed to support a motion coming before Council on March 31st that aims to ensure tenant input into any new apartment inspection system.

Unlike previous housing forums held by ACORN, this event included representatives from the Provincial government in support of enhancing provincial support for tenants.

Toronto ACORN is pursuing a meeting with the Minister of Housing, Jim Bradley to discuss our recommendation for provincial enhancements of the laws regulating apartment standards and new tools the municipalities could use to ensure fair housing for tenants.

Livable Housing Forum


March 1st, 2010 - Toronto ACORN is leading the city wide campaign to fix rental housing.

 

Last year the city launched a new inspection regime as a result of a multi-year campaign by Toronto ACORN, tenant groups and our allies on city council.  While this program has seen some results – it’s also further exposed the extent of the problem.

Toronto tenants continue to be forced to endure bed bugs, mold, poor maintenance and other abuses, largely at the hands of a handful of large corporate landlords.

As a next step in Toronto ACORN’s campaign to see the city expand and improve the existing program we are holding a City Wide Forum to rally tenants and announce new supporters of the campaign.

WHAT: Livable Housing Forum
WHEN: Saturday, March 20th, Noon

WHERE:  Main Square Community Centre (245 Main St. just south of Danforth ave.)

 

Sun: Inspectors to probe city's 5,000 rental buildings

City building inspectors are boldly going where they’ve never gone before in the battle against slum landlords.

“We’re actually going to get our own staff to go out there effectively with a checklist and do every single (rental) building in the city and kind of rate them,” Jim Hart, the executive director of Municipal Licensing and Standards, said.

“It’s a big job but we’re going to do it. We’ve barely started it but it’s going to get going in the next couple of months.”

Hart said no one has attempted to catalogue the rental stock in the city before because the job was seen as too big.

Undaunted, he’s determined to send out about 100 inspectors to give nearly 5,000 buildings a once-over, so his 12-member audit team can better focus its efforts on the buildings most in need of improvements.

ACORN Featured in the Toronto Sun

ACORN Member Shows Toronto Sun Slum-Like Conditions in his Apartment

BEN SPENCER, SUN MEDIA  July 4th, 2008

If it wasn't so serious, it would almost be funny.

Michael Fitz Gerald peered up at the gaping hole in the ceiling above a neighbour's shower and shook his head.

From this third-floor Scarborough hellhole, he had a clear view of the piping leading to his bathtub on the fourth floor.

That's what six weeks of leaking pipes will do to 40-year-old drywall. While he may be at wit's end over his landlord's inaction, Fitz Gerald hasn't lost his sense of humour. "I just hope my tub doesn't fall through into her shower some day," he said.

 

Toronto ACORN Liveable Housing Forum

November 5th, 2008 - Toronto ACORN will be holding a Livable Housing Forum on Saturday, November 8th at 1pm at the Main Square Community Center (245 Main St., just south of Danforth).  The event is a part of ACORN's campaign to License Landlords in Toronto in the most effective way possible.

Toronto's neighborhoods are riddled with sub-standard living conditions forcing tenants to put up with black mold, bed bugs, and a lack of repairs, cleaning and maintenance.  Toronto ACORN members have been holding rallies and actions at slum-buildings around the city for 3 years to pressure the city to hold landlords accountable to their tenants.

City Hall is going to decide soon whether we get a strong licensing system or a weak one.  Toronto ACORN members demand to be heard!  We are inviting every city councilor in Toronto to attend the event.

ACORN Members begin Licensing Landlords

Toronto – ACORN members in two neighbourhoods in Toronto frustrated by the slow pace of change from City Hall have begun Licensing Landlords themselves.

In East York, ACORN members from 500 Dawes rd. posted a "Fail" notice on the front door of their building. “Landlords abuse the weaknesses of the existing system to get around providing a safe and healthy environment for rent-paying tenants, and tenants are left with almost no protection” says Ahmed Makhlouf, a member of ACORN.

In Weston, ACORN members living at 15 and 25 Martha Eaton Way failed thier landlord MetCap, after even the most basic of repairs remain unfinished.  Resident and ACORN member Maria Valencia said this about the event; “It’s only fair if we’re following the contract and paying our rents that landlords hold up their end of the bargain and do repairs and maintenance,”

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