Posted September 9, 2021
Hamilton renters scored a “big win” at City Hall on Wednesday, when a city committee nixed a recommended tax grant to a private equity firm that has been accused of renovictions.
In a rare move, the City of Hamilton’s general issues committee voted against a staff recommendation to give Malleum Real Estate Management nearly $170,000 in tax grants over a five-year period. Malleum, which calls itself “a private equity firm based in Hamilton, ON that grows capital through active, value-add real estate investing,” had applied through the Hamilton Tax Increment Grant Program (HTIGP).
The program gives developers tax rebates based on increased municipal property taxes resulting from renovations or redevelopment. Malleum had applied for grant in order to make capital improvements to an apartment building at 540 King St. E., which it acquired in 2018.
The ACORN Hamilton tenant advocacy group protested the move, pointing out that Hamilton has a nearly 5,000-families waiting list for affordable housing. That led to city council approving a review of its grant programs. The matter of 540 King St. E. was also carried over to Wednesday’s meeting.
Ultimately, the committee defeated a motion to approve the staff recommendation by a 6-4 count, with two abstentions. A second vote that was taken to formally deny the grant carried by the same 6-4-2 margin.
Ward 1 City Councillor Maureen Wilson, Coun. Nrinder Nann (Ward 3), Coun. Tom Jackson (6), Coun. Esther Pauls (7), John-Paul Danko (8) and Judi Partridge (15) voted down the first motion, and voted to accept the second.
Mayor Fred Eisenberger and Couns. Jason Farr (Ward 2), Brad Clark (5) and Lloyd Ferguson (12) were on the short end of both votes.
Couns. Maria Pearson and Arlene Vanderbeek (wards 10 and 13) abstained.
Prior to the vote, which came at the tailend of a 10-hour meeting, the GIC heard delegations by Malleum tenants Marie Alcaide and Chris Martinez, and ACORN Hamilton representatives Elizabeth Ellis and Paula Groves.
On Twitter, ACORN Hamilton called the outcome “a big win.”
BIG win today at GIC for ACORN. Since 2018 members have been speaking out about the predatory tactics Malleum uses in their buildings that leads to tenant displacement and loss of #HamOnt #affordablehousing.
— HamiltonACORN (@AcornHamilton) September 8, 2021
The aforementioned review of the tax grants is still subject to debate and possible amendments.
The proposed new rules appear to be intended to curb property-flipping. They suggest that vacant properties must be empty for two years before a grant can be applied for, and that applicant must be receiving some form of government affordable housing funding. The rules would involve revising the city’s Downtown and Community Renewal Community Improvement Plan. The soonest that the latter could occur would be Oct. 19, due to Ontario’s Planning Act.
Article by Nathan Sager for Insauga