Hamilton’s East End Marching on Melvin Avenue Against Renoviction Met With Hostility From Building Staff
Posted July 26, 2023
On July 21st, Hamilton ACORN’s East End chapter’s reorganizing efforts culminated in a march on Melvin Avenue protesting corporate landlord Family Properties’ persistent waves of renovictions. Tenants on this street have contended with waves of N13 notices in previous years, and ACORN has organized those buildings and secured wins at the LTB, but this has not deterred Family Properties from repeating the cycle. When members marched to Family Properties head office in North York to deliver demands to stop the cycle of tenant displacement, office staff barred the door and called the police. When ACORN’s offer of two weeks to reach out to begin negotiations was disregarded, East End members met to discuss next steps. The decision was a larger-scale march on Melvin Avenue to draw press attention to Family Properties’ relentless push to drive low income communities from a historically affordable neighbourhood in Hamilto
The day of the march, ACORN members and allies tallying more than 25 met at 375 Melvin Avenue, Family Properties’ smallest rental property on the street. Board chair Stew Klazinga and co-chair Ted Plastaras led chants and speeches offering backgrounds on Family Properties and their history with tenant displacement tactics at this property, and invited attendees to delegate at the upcoming City Council meeting on August 17. The council meeting on August 17 will be when city staff will report back about implementing an anti-renoviction bylaw for Hamilton; when a similar bylaw was passed in New West BC, renovictions halted practically overnight.
The march then proceeded to 285 Melvin Avenue, where co-chair Ted offered the story of the devastating renoviction sweep that occurred in this building that left only a small handful of long-term tenants still awaiting hearing dates to keep their homes. Ted put out a call for real rent control tied to units and not leases to disincentivize landlords from generating high tenant turnover. The crowd continued onward to 221 Melvin Avenue, where the previously smooth procession was disrupted. Members and 221 tenants Tracey, Ted, and Tammy delivered tenant speakouts detailing harassment from staff and fear for their housing stability, and thereafter, members approached the building entrance to attempt to deliver a letter containing ACORN’s demands.
When members approached the entrance of the building, two building staff members blocked their path and began verbally harassing them. The threats of calling police escalated to violent invectives and cruel personal insults to tenants when the members continued to walk up the driveway. Building staff further escalated to bodily blocking members from reaching the building doorway, insisted the property manager was not present to hear ACORN’s demands, and then refused to accept a copy of the demand letter. In the interest of deescalating the altercation to avoid further violence, members retreated back to the city street allowance. Building staff proceeded to follow the members, continuing to heckle and harass anyone nearby in an attempt to incite conflict, to no success. Per the events of London ACORN’s action at Webster Apartments, this is also the second time Family Properties building staff have met peaceful protestors with violence, painting a worrying picture of how leadership coaches building staff on how to engage with tenants.
Fortunately, Hamilton ACORN members had been mailing a copy of the demand letter that was presented at the action to every Family Properties head office mailing address ever given to tenants over the week leading up to the action. This mass mailing was in anticipation of Family Properties no-showing the action to ensure that tenant demands would still be heard. Family Properties will be given until Friday July 28 to respond to ACORN’s demands to forestall further tenant action. Tenants will not go unheard!