ACORN members and allies demand Hamilton take bold action on the renoviction crisis
Posted April 24, 2023
Hamilton, Ontario – On Thursday April 20th Hamilton ACORN members and allies pushed back on a staff report that missed coming back with a “comprehensive strategy” for the municipality to protect tenants from renoviction.
After being directed to find the “ways and means” of Hamilton adopting a New Westminster, BC type anti-renoviction bylaw, evaluation of the tenant defence fund, proactive tenant education options and $100,000 approved to increase capacity to do the work, the report proposed to only add another $50,000 to the Tenant Defence Fund.
ACORN held a 50+ person press conference before the Emergency and Community Services Committee to express disappointment and frustration with the report and demand better outcomes from the committee that afternoon.
The press conference was MC’d by downtown ACORN member Pauline Roberts. Other ACORN speakers included:
- Mountain ACORN member Chantelle Pruner went over what is renoviction and its impact on Hamilton tenants as well as her experience at 1132 Upper Wellington Street with backdated N13s and $75,000 buyout offers.
- East End member Darlene Wesley explained why its impossible for tenants to exercise first right of refusal and keep their affordable housing and recently being renovicted from 309 Strathearne Ave (her home of 18 years).
- East End member Elizabeth Ellis went over the history of ACORN’s campaign since 2018 and ACORN’s first action against renoviction at her previous apartment 160 Sherman Ave N (all tenants were renovicted).
- Downtown ACORN member Evan Pettitt spoke about renoviction at 999 Cannon St E and ACORN’s demands for the city.
Allies Karen Andrews from the Advocacy Centre of Tenants Ontario and Karl Andrus from the Hamilton Community Benefits Network also spoke at the press conference in support.
Ward 2 Councillor Cameron Kroetsch and Ward 13 Alex Wilson attended and spoke at the end of the rally about supporting ACORN’s demands.
At the Emergency and Community Services Committee 23 ACORN members and tenants delegated about their experience with predatory and greedy landlords and/or ACORN’s demands. 7 allies delegated: Karl Andrus of HCBN, Karen Andrews of ACTO, Brian Doucet (Professor at the University of Waterloo), Merima Menzildzic and Maria Antelo from the Hamilton Community Legal Clinic and Sarah Mayo from the Social Planning and Research Council of Hamilton.
After the passionate and emotional delegations from ACORN members, Councillors pressed staff on why the report back did not include next steps for the implementation of an anti-renoviction bylaw. Staff mentioned that there was turnover in senior staff in the department and the COVID pandemic but ultimately apologized and said they are “prepared to do whatever they can to course correct”.
Led by Councillor Kroetsch and Ward 3 Councillor Nrinder Nann the following motion was passed unanimously:
- That Council approve increasing the balance of the Tenant Defence Fund by $50 K in 2023
- That the Tenant Defence Fund eligibility be expanded to include N12 notices
- That staff be directed to report back on the expansion of the Tenant Defence Fund program scope and flexibility to allow the City to support eligible tenants to preserve affordable rental housing in the private market, through the following components:
- Increase the annual overall fund amount;
- Streamline access to professional services
- Tenant information services;
- Tenant organizing and capacity building; and
- Research and policy development
- Staff to report back to E&CS in August 2023, with recommendations on the full suite of options to halt renovictions in the COH including Rent SafeTO, the City of Toronto Tenant Support Program and amendments to various City by-laws, rental replacement policies, the use of building permits, and a city-wide Licensing by-law and Renovictions by-law
- That staff report back on the ability for the municipality to track sale notices for multi unit buildings, to monitor trends in this area and create process to inform tenants of their right in case of ownership change
The motion covered all of ACORN’s demands that were presented to the committee:
- Anti renoviction bylaw (based on New West bylaw) and city wide landlord licensing (based on RentSafe program from Toronto).
- Expand and improve the Tenant Defence Fund.
- Track when apartments are sold and immediately conduct protective tenant education to the building to inform tenants of their rights and the city’s anti-renoviction rules.
ACORN members intend to keep up the pressure and meet with city officials leading up to August to ensure the city follows through on passing an anti-renoviction bylaw, scaling up the landlord licensing pilot city wide to purpose built rentals, and a strong Tenant Defence Program.
Despite the significant delay in local policy to address renoviction, Thursday demonstrated the power of ACORN members in Hamilton and ability to get City Hall to listen to our demands.
Read ACORN’s full report and demands here.
Read legal opinion memo in support of Hamilton’s power to pass an anti-renoviction bylaw here.
Re-watch the committee meeting here.