August 12th, 2010 by Kevin Connor - Toronto Sun
Tenants’ issues must be front and centre in the next municipal election, a rally heard on Thursday.
“We are having this action to encourage tenants to vote and we have invited mayoral candidates and council candidates to hear their views,” said ACORN’S Edward Lantz, adding the organization has three main issues for the October vote.
First, the Association of Community Organization for Reform Now wants changes made to the city’s licence standards department.
“These people audit highrise buildings. To date, there are 6,000 highrises in the city and 80% are in disrepair. Over the last two years the inspectors were only in 300 buildings and that is because there are only 13 inspectors. It is going to be a long time to get up to code,” Lantz said.
“In the units with the real problems we need to add more inspectors. Slum lords in Toronto must be regulated.”
ACORN also wants landlords to pay a tenant protection fee to fund the expansion of the inspection program.
“It wouldn’t cost the city a cent,” Lantz said.
Lastly, ACORN wants to have inspection results posted so prospective tenants can see what they are getting into.
ACORN plans to go door-to-door to get tenants out to polling stations.
“Over half the city rents which means tenants have an incredible amount of power to influence the election. We are sick and tired of being ignored by politicians because we are low-income tenants. We have a voice and it is going to be loud in October,” ACORN member Marva Burnett said.
It is important that the tenants’ voice is heard and people deserve homes where they can live in dignity, said mayoral candidate George Smitherman, adding that the city needs to declare war on the bedbug problem.
“Elect me as mayor and I will be the tenants’ mayor,” he said.
Mayoral candidate Sarah Thomson said there needs to be improvements to the apartment inspection program and that includes Toronto housing.
“We need to set an example,” Thomson said.
“We need to engage people in the community so they come out and not just accept the conditions.”
Because tenants make up half of Toronto’s population they need to be listened to, mayoral candidate Joe Pantalone said.
“If they get involved in democracy the better democracy gets. Everyone has the right to live in decent housing,” he said.