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Insauga: Renter advocates in Hamilton to hold Housing For All, Beat The Heat rallies - ACORN Canada

Insauga: Renter advocates in Hamilton to hold Housing For All, Beat The Heat rallies

Posted August 25, 2022

Posted August 25, 2022

Activist groups in Hamilton are calling on the city to view both increasing rents, and an increasing number of warm days, as public health issues.

At least two rallies are scheduled at city hall over the next couple of weeks, as a municipal election campaign also gets underway. One will take Thursday morning (Aug. 25). The other, led by ACORN Hamilton, is the launch of a campaign to get Hamilton to institute a maximum-heat bylaw for landlords, akin to one already on the books that requires a rented dwelling to have a minimum heat during the cold-weather months.

On Thursday, Hamilton Urban Core Community Health Centre (HUCCHC) is leading a 10 a.m. rally to call on the city to do more to house all of its residents. A tweet from Tommy Taylor, a manager at HUCCHC, said Hamilton has over 6,600 households on a waiting list for supportive housing, and noted social assistance rates are “dangerously low.”

On the second count, the average rent for a one-bedroom unit in Hamilton was $1,694 in July, according to the National Rent Report by Bullpen Consulting. That is 38 per cent higher than the current monthly Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) payout of $1,227.

Members of provincial parliament (MPPs) who live more than 50 km from Queen’s Park have also received a $2,300 monthly allowance since receiving a top-up from the Premier Doug Ford-headed Ontario PC Party government some 3½ years ago. That is 87 per cent higher than the average ODSP cheque.

Two weeks ago, after the elected leadership in Hamilton passed a climate adaptation strategy, ACORN Hamilton announced that it is calling for “full temperature control for tenants.” It plans to hold a “Beat The Heat” rally at 12 noon on Sept. 7 at City Hall.

Southwestern U.S. cities such as Dallas and Phoenix now have ordinances that regulate the maximum heat dwelling. No Canadian city or province has followed suit. Last spring, the Intact Centre on Climate Adaptation said Hamilton by the mid-21st century will be more vulnerable to extreme heat than almost every other Canadian city, save Windsor.

A recent Ontario Human Rights Commission ruling has also called on the province to “include air conditioning as a vital service, like the provision of heat.

In a ruling posted Aug. 19, the human rights commission said people who are stretched to manage medical conditions that are affected by extreme heat have a right to accommodated by landlords. It also noted there is “a concerning trend of housing providers denying tenants’ ability to install air conditioning units and threatening rent increases or eviction, or both, if they do so.”

Some property rental companies have proscribed window air conditioners due to a liability concern. In November 2019, a two-year-old girl living in a Toronto Community Housing building died after being struck by an air conditioner that fell from the eighth floor.

An extreme heat event in Hamilton is defined as a day where the temperature reaches 30C.


Article by Nathan Sager for Insauga

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