Hamilton Spectator: Hamilton Mountain townhouse residents refuse to give up affordable units

Posted April 18, 2022

Residents at 1132 Upper Wellington St. say they have no plans to give up their affordable three-bedroom townhouse units, despite efforts from the property owner to end their tenancies.

Residents have received N11 notices (an agreement aimed to end a tenancy) and N13 notices indicating the owner intends to demolish their unit, repair it or convert it to another use that requires the unit to be vacant.

Chantelle Pruner said she received an N13 notice Feb. 8 of this year, giving her until the end of the month to move. She then noticed the form was backdated to Oct. 2021. Pruner said the property owner also filed a lawsuit against her.

“I’ve been here 16 years and raised four children here,” Pruner said during an April 9 rally at the complex organized by Hamilton ACORN. “I was standing up for my rights as well as every tenant that speaks no English and out of everyone here. I’m the only one being sued.”

While other residents have been offered cash incentives to end their tenancies, Pruner hasn’t received overtures of financial compensation.

Tenant advocacy groups like Hamilton ACORN have referred to these cash incentives as “renovictions,” intended to force out long-term tenants under the guise of renovating or repairing a rental unit, while offering the unit to a new tenant without rent controls.

Jamie Jongeling has lived at the townhouse complex for 21 years. His mother, Janet Woitowicz, also lives in the unit that rents for $1,022 a month, well below the estimated $1,500 cost of a one-bedroom apartment in Hamilton, according to Rentals.ca.

Jongeling said he turned down an offer of $10,000 to vacate the unit.

“You can’t get this (unit) for that (rent) anywhere in Hamilton,” said Jongeling, who noted he has also done some renovations to the unit at his cost.

Woitowicz said residents have been informed the building has been sold and the units may be demolished, but she has yet to uncover evidence that’s about to happen.

“Everything is just not legit,” said Woitowicz. “The names (on the paperwork) are not right, the address is not right. It’s backdated. We’ve been told (the property) has been sold about a dozen times. We’re all just trying to support each other. It’s very difficult, stressful. With COVID-19 alone, that’s been enough to deal with.”

Marnie Schurter, co-chair of Hamilton ACORN’s Mountain chapter, said the advocacy group is demanding the City of Hamilton develop policies to put the health and housing security of tenants ahead of developer’s profits. After three years of pressure, said Schurter, Hamilton approved funding for a consultant to advance the adoption of an anti-renoviction bylaw based on a similar system in New Westminster B.C. But there’s been little concrete action since, said Schurter.

“Tenants can’t wait any longer for action. We need policies that pass this year to protect tenants in Hamilton’s affordable housing stock.”

Also speaking at the April 9 rally, NPD MPP Monique Taylor blamed the current Progressive Conservative and previous Liberal governments for failing to address the issues of renoviction and rent control for new buildings.

“We need real legislation to ensure that we’re stopping these renovictions. It’s not just about people having to move out of their homes. It’s about ‘where are they going next?’ That is the biggest concern.”

Efforts to reach the property owner at 1132 Upper Wellington by press deadline were unsuccessful.

***

Article by Mike Pearson for the Hamilton Spectator

 

Sign up for ACORN's newsletter