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Ottawa ACORN Launches Eco-Tenant Platform and Survey Results! - ACORN Canada

Ottawa ACORN Launches Eco-Tenant Platform and Survey Results!

Posted July 8, 2024

Last night, over 50 ACORN members gathered to listen to Ottawa ACORN’s Eco-Tenant Platform Launch! Climate change is getting worse and people who are low-and-moderate income as well as other vulnerable tenants are the most affected by the dual crises of climate change and housing. Climate change means more severe weather events, extreme heat and cold, poor air quality and more. While everyone is affected, people who are low-income are at a greater risk from the impacts. Yet tenants have very little control over measures that will make their homes more climate resilient or energy efficient. Buildings make up nearly half of Ottawa’s greenhouse gas emissions.

Given this context, over the past year Ottawa ACORN looked to understand the impacts of climate change on tenants, issues in their building leading to great emissions, and what climate issues were a priority for tenants. To do this, we took a 2-pronged approach. First, we organized eco-tenant unions to push for retrofits in specific rental properties. Second, we organized tenants citywide to identify key issues and systemic policy solutions. This involved developing an Eco-Tenant Survey that 295 renters responded to, focus groups, outreach events and consultation with environmental groups.

Read the results from our survey here!

Survey Highlights:

  • 71.5% of tenants are paying electricity/hydro outside of their rent
  • Nearly half of tenants said their unit is too hot in the summer
  • 40% do not have air conditioning/cooling in their unit
  • Similarly, almost 40% reported having experienced a lack of heat in the winter
  • Almost ¼ said their appliances didn’t work OR were very old and had problems
  • Of respondents with inadequate heating, 46% had bought space heaters to keep warm. 20% bought multiple.
  • 78% of respondents say it’s important to them that their building is environmentally friendly
  • Nearly 60% did not trust their landlord to put the interests of tenants first
  • Only 11% of tenants reported that their buildings had been renovated within the past 5 years to improve energy efficiency

ACORN is calling on all levels of government to protect tenants from the devastating impacts of climate change and accelerate carbon reduction in our buildings. This means:

  • Provide free heat/cooling pumps and energy efficient air conditioners for low income renters, prioritizing tenants with utilities outside their rent
  • Implement Mandatory Building Performance Standards and Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards
  • Financial support for low and moderate income households impacted by natural disasters like flooding, storms, power outages, extreme heat events
  • Fund retrofits in rental buildings. This must include:
  1. Affordability and anti-eviction covenants
  2. Energy efficiency and mechanical cooling measures
  3. All rental types (townhomes to high-rises)
  4. Allowance of other improvements, like mold remediation, if needed to upgrade a unit before energy efficiency and mechanical cooling
  5. Require landlords to demonstrate that the retrofits will result in benefits for tenants, particularly in cases where the landlord pays the energy costs
  6. Signed agreements from the landlord made transparent to the tenants in the building
  7. Formal tenant participation where independent tenant unions existing in the community and building receive resources to support tenants participating
  8. Funding would ideally be upfront, full cost covered by grants
  9. Retrofits that are “turnkey” so that no additional work is required – include installation, clean up, painting etc
  10. Coordination with trusted local delivery agents
  • And there’s more in the report!

HUGE shoutout to ACORN leaders Marie-Lourdes Garnier, Patricia Larocque, Dorian Santoir, and Norma Jean Quibell for running a successful launch. Thank you to our guest speakers Angela Keller-Herzog from CAFES, and Sarah Marquis from Climate Justice Ottawa!

Read the Report here: Engaging Tenants in Climate Action

Sign the online action: Tell Ottawa City Council To Take Action on Climate Change & Housing!