Posted November 5, 2021
Hamilton ACORN members marched through the Stoney Creek area Oct. 30, delivering demand letters to highrise landlords and calling for healthy, safe and affordable housing.
About a dozen rally participants also urged the city of Hamilton to enact a broader landlord licensing program and prioritize the creation of more affordable housing to address rising rents and an ongoing housing crisis.
ACORN member and lower Stoney Creek tenant Cristiano da Silva said the Mountain Avenue North apartment where he lives is deteriorating with mould, pests and safety hazards.
“The exhaust systems are never turned on,” da Silva said at the rally. “We just want better health and safety conditions and affordable rent.”
Da Silva called upon the province to freeze rents and urged the city and province to prioritize the creation of more affordable housing, especially along the light-rail transit corridor.
“Because of the gentrification and the skyrocketing rental costs, people are being locked into their current living situations,” da Silva noted. “People are afraid to move because they can’t afford to live anywhere else and they can’t afford to move.”
Da Silva, who pays about $1,100 monthly for his one-bedroom unit, said he also feels locked into his living arrangement due to the low probability of finding another unit at a similar rent.
Da Silva credited ACORN’s advocacy for helping to win crucial updates to the city’s property standards bylaw last August, as well as a landlord licensing pilot program in wards 1, 8 and 14.
He said licensing holds landlords accountable to tenants and helps ensure safety inspections are performed routinely in rental units.
In a march through the Riverdale neighbourhood in the area of Barton Street and Centennial Parkway North, ACORN members handed out demand letters for select buildings on Barton Street, Grandville Avenue and Jerome Crescent.
Also speaking at the rally, ACORN member Liz Scott said rally participants would request meetings with landlords.
“We will rally at the buildings, talk about the issues that tenants have experienced, state our demands to the landlord and the city, and deliver our demand letters that state the changes we want to see,” Scott said.
ACORN member Suzanne Glendinning said 27 per cent of Hamilton households are considered low income, and with the average one-bedroom apartment rent at $1,425 — up 12 per cent from last year — budgets are beyond stretched.
“We demand the City of Hamilton create and build real affordable housing in Ontario and stronger rent controls. We need vacancy controls,” said Glendinning. “We need a cap on rent prices, end tax breaks for real estate investment trusts and create more rent relief programs to help low-income tenants avoid eviction.”
According to the October market report by rentals.ca, the updated average rent for a Hamilton one-bedroom apartment is $1,552.
Hamilton ACORN has also called upon the city for inclusionary zoning policies to promote affordable housing on private land and to work towards fully affordable housing on public land.
Hamilton ACORN is a community organization that advocates for low- and moderate-income tenants. The organization has four Hamilton chapters, including Stoney Creek, Downtown, East Hamilton and Hamilton Mountain.
The Oct. 30 event was the Stoney Creek chapter’s first public action.
Article by Mike Pearson for the Hamilton Spectator.