Huddle: Tenants’ Rights Advocates Stage Protest For Rent Control, Halt On Evictions
Posted March 12, 2021
Posted March 12, 2021
SAINT JOHN – More than 30 people rallied in the city centre to demand better protection for New Brunswick tenants Thursday.
ACORN N.B. hosted a tenant’s rights protest in King’s Square featuring multiple speakers before representatives delivered a letter to Mary Wilson, Minister of Service New Brunswick.
The tenants’ rights advocates are demanding a two percent cap on rent increases, a moratorium on evictions until the Covid-19 pandemic is over, and a review of the Residential Tenancies Act.
Sarah Lunney, ACORN N.B.’s New Brunswick spokesperson and a board member at the Saint John Community Food Basket, says Blaine Higgs’ government is stalling by calling for another report on rent caps.
“We don’t need another report,” Lunney said. “The Economic and Social Inclusion Corporation has done enough reports on poverty and affordable housing being a huge issue for people in poverty.”
“You have enough citizens who are coming forward, screaming at the top of their lungs saying ‘hey, this is an issue,’”
Lunney spoke at Thursday’s protest, along with other Saint John tenants Katie Dever and Jill Farrar.
Thursday’s event followed a previous ACORN protest in Moncton, and a petition calling on Higgs’ government to end evictions during the pandemic.
Lunney says so far the government has shown little intention of building a dialogue with ACORN N.B.
She says they received a response from Wilson indicating the government doesn’t believe there are issues with vacancy rates.
“For low-to-moderate income people, if you go on Kijiji right now, you will find the majority of apartments available are $1,200 plus. That is more than 30 percent of income for low-to-moderate-income people,” said Lunney.
In working with ACORN, Lunney says she’s heard a number of horror stories from other New Brunswick tenants. She shared stories of residents who saw their rent spike from $500 to $950.
“How are you supposed to come up with that big of an income gap, and how are you supposed to live and pay for food, medication, internet?” said Lunney. “It’s really putting people into serious situations that are very vulnerable and can jeopardize their physical and mental health. I don’t understand how the government isn’t recognizing this.”
Lunney insists ACORN’s calls to action are not based on opposition to Blaine Higgs’ Conservative party. She says they have members from across the political spectrum.
“The people out there are from vast political ideology background, and we’re here coming together collectively because we believe we all deserve a place to live.”
Article by Ben Burnett for Huddle