Inside Toronto: ACORN members march in Weston demanding affordable rent reforms

Posted December 16, 2015

Weston-area residents took to the streets last week to raise awareness of the issue of skyrocketing rents, a problem that is forcing people out of their homes, said members of ACORN.
As many as 20 members of ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now) Canada marched from Keele Street and Ingram Drive to York South-Weston MPP Laura Albanese’s office carrying signs calling for ‘Affordable Housing Now.’
As part of its Rent Cap Campaign, ACORN Canada is fighting for an end to rent control loopholes, such as Vacancy Decontrol, and Above-the-Guideline-Rent-Increases (AGRIs).
“Once you leave an apartment, landlords can raise the rent by 500 per cent,” ACORN Canada Weston chairperson Laurie Simpson told The Guardian.
Weston is a neighbourhood with many apartment buildings, Simpson pointed out; however, the need for rental reform and affordable housing is a city-wide issue.
“We need to make our politicians aware,” Simpson said.
Albanese admitted that she was caught off guard by the march because she hadn’t been in touch with ACORN previously. When the group showed up on the afternoon of Wednesday, Dec. 9, the politician wasn’t there because the legislature was sitting.
“My office contacted me right away,” Albanese said. “They gave my staff a letter expressing their discontent with the issue. We’ve been trying to set up a meeting. We’re aiming for the beginning of January. I look forward to sitting down with them and discussing this.”
Albanese said she would encourage ACORN to make a submission to the new housing strategy that will be updated in the new year.
“I am very sympathetic to the issue,” Albanese said. “I think (ACORN) does a great job of raising awareness for those in need of affordable rent.”
ACORN, an independent national organization of low and moderate income families, boasts more than 70,000 members who are organized into 20 neighbourhood chapters in nine cities across Canada.
Its members can take credit for working in coalition to raise the minimum wage in Ontario to $11 an hour plus indexing to inflation, among other victories.
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Article by Lisa Rainford for Inside Toronto