Toronto.com: ‘Tenants are living through hell’: Toronto ACORN members occupy apartment landlord’s North York office
Posted May 1, 2023
Group’s annual report says 60% of apartment dwellers faced repair issues
Standing in Medallion Corporation’s foyer on April 20, taping letters and a banner on walls, members of Toronto ACORN chanted for the company’s CEO to appear and meet them.
“Aaron Bleeman, do not hide,” they shouted toward offices where employees of the North York-based developer and property management company waited for the protest to end.
“Do the work you’re supposed to do,” Marcia Stone, the advocacy group’s Weston chapter co-chairperson added through a megaphone.
“Tenants are living through hell every single day!”
Before a squad of police arrived and the occupation ended peacefully, tenants and an ACORN (Association of Concerned Organizations for Reform Now) organizer handed a Medallion administrator a 200-signature petition.
“Landlords shouldn’t need us to do this just to get their attention and get basic needs met,” said Robin McDowell, a Medallion tenant who travelled from Birchmount Road in Scarborough to the company headquarter on Lawrence Avenue West.
Medallion is far from the only large landlord Toronto ACORN has criticized and issues in the petition, including “unreliable and unaccountable security, ineffective pest management,” and “ineffective heating in units” are familiar to many tenants of the city’s aging rental highrises.
ACORN’s annual State of Repair report, released April 27, says 60 per cent of tenants responding to its survey “faced issues getting repairs done in their building in the past 12 months” and almost 42 per cent complained of lack of heat in winter.
The group initially welcomed the city’s RentSafeTO program, which passed in 2017 and includes proactive inspections, as a good first step in policing landlords. It now says RentSafeTO falls short of what ACORN’s program proposal, Landlord Licensing, could do for apartment tenants.
Medallion did not respond to requests for comment, but its website says it is “committed to the highest standard in maintaining and caring for our assets.”
The company’s property management team, it adds, “combines training experience and pride to achieve the ultimate in tenant satisfaction.”
Toronto ACORN said issues of “unsuitable living conditions” brought to the April 20 protest were raised at other protests at St. Jamestown buildings in November and December and communicated to Medallion.
The group said the company responded by saying it prefers to speak to individual tenants. ACORN said Medallion had ignored its requests for a meeting.
During the protest, Josephine Quisquisan, a Medallion tenant downtown, read the addresses of the company’s apartment buildings through a megaphone and later said she was there on behalf of seniors who couldn’t fight for themselves.
A few days later, McDougall was by the front doors of her Scarborough building, showing visitors where uneven concrete collects water and in winter, she said, creates an icy patch she has fallen on.
She said she also complained to management about the heat in her unit last December, when was forced to push blankets against the outer walls.
“I even bought a little thermometer for the room so I could prove it’s not the legal standard,” McDowell said.
Article by Mike Adler for Toronto.com