Cape Breton ACORN was featured on CBC radio this week. Click Read more to hear the audio.
Healthy Homes - Habitation saine
Cape Breton ACORN was featured on CBC Maritime Noon for organizing tenants for improved rental housing. Click 'Read More' to hear the audio (autoplay).
SYDNEY — An association determined to rid the Cape Breton Regional Municipality of slum landlords held its first meeting Wednesday to organize and elect an executive.
A dozen people met at St. Andrew’s United Church Hall on Bentinck Street to show support for the Cape Breton Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now.
It’s the first branch of the group organized east of Ottawa, said organizing committee member Evan Coole.
He said the group is intent on placing pressure on the CBRM to enforce the municipality’s minimum standards bylaw, which establishes standards governing the condition of occupancy and maintenance of residential properties and provides safeguards to protect health and safety.
“The problem is (the bylaw) isn’t being enforced. It’s CBRM’s bylaw and it’s up to the CBRM to figure out how to enforce it,” Coole said.
“What we’re here to do is to let (CBRM) know we’re not going to stop having meetings like this, and we’re not going to stop building a community organization that will make them do their jobs and enforce the laws that they passed.”
Tenants of a Dupont Street and Lansdowne Avenue area tower say they're suffering with rental conditions they are unable to live in.
A dozen residents of 730 St. Clarens Avenue Apartments rallied outside their building this week to bring attention to the issue. They claim they're dealing with poor maintenance, safety hazards and an insect infestation, including cockroaches and bedbugs.
Ana Dinar and her sister Mary Francisco began renting an apartment there in 2008 and said the longer they lived in the building, the more maintenance issues arose. Their shower ran continuously for months, they said.
"There's mold and mildew growing because of the constant running water," said Dinar at Wednesday's rally.
Fellow tenant Ahmed Rahman, who has lived at 730 St. Clarens for six years, said he waited for months to get his toilet repaired.
"Yes, it got fixed, but it took three months," said Rahman, who along with fellow tenants held signs that read, 'Honk for Better Housing.'
Heather Kilgour, the building's office manager, said she couldn't figure out what all the fuss was about.
"I don't know what people were trying to prove," she said. "We take care of our tenants. We do repairs. We fix what needs to be done."
A group that represents low-income residents in Cape Breton says dozens of people in the Sydney area are living in slum rentals.
Evan Coole, a member of ACORN [Canada] or the Cape Breton Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, [Canada] has been going door-to-door looking for tenants with complaints.
"It's a fairly big problem," said Coole.
"One out of every three doors we knock on, someone has something that is of grave concern for health, safety, security — and that makes their apartment unlivable."
Coole said most tenants are too afraid to speak out for fear of being evicted, which is one of the reasons ACORN [Canada] members decided to go door-to-door.
"Getting people in their home, they're more comfortable and feel more safe talking about what they're going through," he said.
"Mould, mice, rats, severe water damage, just conditions that are absolutely unfit to live in and people should not be paying to live in."
Last night, following an intensive grassroots campaign, City Councillors from across Toronto voted 23-21 to defeat the majority of the cuts proposed by Mayor Rob Ford in his 2011 Budget. The campaign was organized by labour and community groups, including many Toronto ACORN members in wards across in the City who called on their councillors to oppose the budget and its cuts to vital services across Toronto.
When it came time for a vote on the budget, nearly 50 Toronto ACORN members helped pack the chambers of City Hall to remind their elected officials that Toronto opposes these cuts.
Council debated various items on the agenda from 4:00 - 5:30, when we moved outside to join a massive rally put on by the Respect Toronto Coalition. Members carried signs and chanted to protect TTC services, subsidized child care, and affordable housing.
Members were overjoyed to see that after months of intense organizing and active engagement, over $20 million in proposed cuts were rejected by council.
Tenants of an East York highrise say they will rally Friday afternoon, Dec. 30, in front of their building.
Toronto ACORN, an advocacy group, is calling on the City of Toronto to force the owner to do repairs at 500 Dawes Road.
A fire in an elevator Dec. 8 injured two men working in the building, and Janet Davis, the local city councillor, met tenants of the building on Dec. 20 to discuss its condition and their rights.
In a release, ACORN, which is planning the rally for 2:15 p.m., said the owner "has a history of not doing repairs and of treating people poorly" and the city isn't responding to conditions in the building quickly enough.
An audit of the building completed Dec. 3 2008, found dozens of property standards defects but a city report this month found only five defects in the orders to the owner remain outstanding.
The owner, the report said, must still submit engineer's reports on the exterior and interior lighting, take a condition survey on concrete balcony floor slabs and repair the balconies, which "are not maintained in good repair"
The report also said walls in the parking garage "are not maintained free of holes, breaks or cracks."
Talking about the cockroaches in her apartment makes at least one tenant of an east Toronto apartment building distraught.
There is also the inadequate heating, faulty appliances, defective toilets, mice, bedbugs and garbage piled high at the rear of the building, Lisa Hume said. But it is the cockroaches that keep her up at night with worry.
The scurrying roaches are so numerous when the lights are turned on in her 500 Dawes Rd. apartment that it sometimes appears as if the floor is moving, she said.
Hume was one of 40-or-so tenants of the building gathered in the lobby Friday to protest the landlord’s lack of upkeep of the low-rent apartment building, and the shoddy conditions they say they are living in.
After numerous visits from city standards, health and fire officials, tenants are now asking both the City and Ontario’s Landlord and Tenant Board to step in and help them.
Hume, who has been spearheading the tenants’ call for action along with a community activists Toronto ACORN, has consulted a law firm dealing in legal-aid cases.
Jessica May is trying to raise her two children in a safe community.
But when she visits Michele Park with her three-year-old daughter and three-month-old son, she's tired of finding needles on the ground.
"Our children play in these parks and anything could be buried (in the sand)," said the 20-year-old May, who attended Ottawa ACORN's rally for safer parks on Dec. 6 at Michele Park. "When I first moved here, I didn't know it was going to be this bad."
May, who lives in an apartment building on Ramsey Crescent, said she got her first apartment in the community in September 2009. Since then, she's had issues at Michele Park when it comes to lighting and garbage and she worries about gang violence at night.
She said she was also disturbed when a stabbing took place near her building.
"There was blood on my steps and I saw broken glass," May said, adding that she's been coping with depression because of where she lives.
Complaints of poor lighting, crime, garbage, drugs, needles in park
Bay Ward Coun. Mark Taylor vowed to clean up Michele Park and make the area safer after a small group of angry residents held a protest there on Tuesday.
Residents said there isn’t enough lighting on streets at night and are worried about gang violence and garbage in and around the playground.
ACORN Ottawa, a non-profit organization that advocates for low-income families, organized the protest.
“As you can see, the garbage laying around —that’s a big issue,” said Jessica May, a mother of two who lives near the park.
“We don’t know what’s in the sand. I’ve discovered needles, I’ve discovered joints.”
“It’s just not safe.”
Taylor reassured residents that he will address issues such as lighting, garbage and recycling receptacles, and maintenance of the park.
But he also requested that the community take an active role in improving the conditions of the park.
Taylor encouraged the community co-ordinator for the area to attend his upcoming bi-monthly meeting in January to address residents’ biggest concerns.
Original article available at: http://www.metronews.ca/ottawa/local/article/1044996--residents-kick-up-some-dirt-on-michele-park