Huddle: ACORN Applauds Rent Control Extension, But Will Keep Lobbying To Make It Permanent

Posted October 21, 2021

HALIFAX–Wednesday’s announcement by Nova Scotia Premier Tim Houston that he was extnding rent control came as a surprise to the province.

Since before the election, Houston stood steadfast that rent control wasn’t the answer to the province’s housing crisis. After forming the government, the Progressive Conservative party’s tone on the issue didn’t waver.

Now, the PCs have promosed a continued cap of two percent per year on rent increases, until the end of 2023. The party also announced a series of other measures meant to protect the rights of tenants.

One organization that was  pleaantly surprised by the news is ACORN, a grassroots organization that advocates for affordable housing, rent control, and other social issues.

“I was surprised at the pure scope of the changes and how much there was…but I’m obviously very happy,” says Hannah Wood, a spokesperson for the Nova Scotia chapter of ACORN. “For ACORN, it feels like the accumulation of a lot of work.”

Wood says the organization is pleased, not just with the rent control, but other measures the group has been fighting for, such as the building of more affordable housing units and giving inclusionary zoning powers to the Halifax Regional Municipality.

ACORN is also happy, for now, with the two-year extension to the rent cap. But the group still believes rent control should be permanent.

“The length of the time is nice. I thought we might get an extension; ACORN wants permanent rent control and will continue to fight for that, but I’m happy to see such a long extension. It relieved pressure off a lot of our members and people in the community,” says Wood.

Wood also complimented the PC Party and Houston on some “inventive” measures outside of the ones ACORN lobbied for, such as actions to increase the supply of trade workers and examining provincial properties that can be converted into housing.

“I think there are some inventive things in there from the Premier as well that are good ideas that are not from us, things around the trade workers and such. So, I think there is a lot to be happy about,” said Wood.

For Wood and other members of ACORN, this result showed that the months of advocating for affordable housing was worth it. The group is known for its  protests and on-the-ground activism. But there were also a lot of behind-the-scenes meetings with stakeholders leading up to Wednesday’s announcement.

“We’re not just out there on the streets having protests and actions. We’ll meet with anyone in power who will meet with us to talk about these solutions,” says Wood.

“Those meetings, I think, have really done their work and I can see from a lot of these recommendations that they were really understood.”

But ACORN’s work is far from over. On top of their mission to achieve permanent rent control, the group will keep advocating for the construction of more affordable units. Houston announced the province will spend $35-million to build 1,100 units of housing in the province, but Wood notes that will still leave thousands of people on the wait list.

“That’s a great start, but we’d like to see more,” she said.

ACORN will also be busy helping tenants understand the new rules announced around renovictions. Wood notes that there are always people in need of help when it comes to disputes with landlords.

“Sometimes the rules we had weren’t being followed and we had to help members talk to Dal Legal Aid and fight landlords on issues,” says Wood. 

 

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Article by Derek Montague for Huddle

 

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