ACORN Canada, a national membership organization of low and moderate income families, is announcing today the launch of new online hub of activism and organizing for Toronto tenants.
The Centre for Tenant Organizing aims to be an online clearinghouse for tenant engagement – connecting tenants to organizing materials, campaign support & City services. The launch is in response to demand from tenants across Toronto for resources to help them to unite their neighbours in campaigns and projects to win improved housing standards.
The site was launched with a Vital Ideas grant from the Toronto Community Foundation.
The site is available at: http://www.tenantorganizing.ca
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."
On February 8th, Toronto ACORN members rallied at City Hall to support a motion put forward by TTC Chair Karen Stintz to create above and below ground rapid transit in neighborhoods across the city. The motion was put forward as an alternative to Mayor Rob Ford's unfunded subways-only transit plan which would take decades to implement, leaving residents of Toronto's suburbs without decent, efficient rapid transit for years to come.
Council voted against the mayor in a stunning 25-18 victory for the Stintz motion. This victory came as the result of intense and persistent organizing by Toronto ACORN and community & labour organizations across the city, proving that with good organizing, we can make real changes at City Hall.
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.
On January 17th, Toronto ACORN members from across the city will be rallying at city hall while city council meets to discuss and vote on Mayor Ford's proposed 2012 budget. Despite the city's close to $150 million surplus, the Ford administration is pushing massive unnecessary service cuts as part of a radical conservative agenda.
Toronto ACORN members will be gathering at 4pm at the front doors of City Hall and progressing into council chambers with the demand that council votes against the proposed cuts to childcare, transit service, community centres, libraries and other services that are essential parts of our neighbourhoods.
Join Us >>
Where: City Hall (100 Queen St. West)
Why: Call on City Council to reject Ford's cuts
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.
A 10-cent fare hike effective Jan. 1 and restoration of full bus service on some busy routes like Finch, Dufferin and Don Mills have been approved by the Toronto Transit Commission.
The commission on Wednesday okayed a compromise plan from the TTC chair, Councillor Karen Stintz, that uses about $5 million in expected 2012 diesel fuel savings to continue bus service.
“The TTC management will go back and give us a breakdown on which routes will be maintained,” Stintz said. “And they would likely be the busiest routes like Finch, like Don Mills, like Dufferin. But the exact details are still being worked out.”
TTC chief general manager Gary Webster said the money would restore half the rush-hour bus service that had been on the chopping block. Transit advocates vowed to keep pushing council — which meets in mid-January to pass the city’s budget — to come up with $14 million to keep current bus service operating.
“It’s up to councillors now to find the remaining money to avoid service cuts in the TTC,” said Jamie Kilpatrick, of the Toronto Environmental Alliance.
The 10-cent fare hike, the first since January, 2010, when fares went up 25 cents, will increase the adult token to $2.60. The cash fare remains at $3.
TTC fares will go up by 10¢ on New Year's Day, but it remains City Council's call as to whether the commission will move forward with controversial plans to dramatically cut back its service.
Cash fares will remain stable at $3 for adults and $2 for students and seniors, but tokens will increase from $2.50 to $2.60, and Metropasses will increase by $5 per month.
The commission also agreed in principle to usher in 10¢ increases in 2013, 2014 and 2015. "We need to bring in some predictability ... and get out of this annual cycle of how we are going to make ends meet," TTC chairwoman Karen Stintz said.
This year, the commission voted to reduce service on 56 bus and six streetcar routes in order to meet a budget target set by Mayor Rob Ford's administration; some of those cuts have been avoided by an 11th-hour discovery of $5-million in extra funding.
The $5-million was originally budgeted for diesel fuel, which staff now believe will not cost as much. More than $1-million of the money will be used to maintain service levels at full capacity in January. The remainder will be put toward relieving peak hours the rest of the year.
Of course, to keep 2012 service anywhere near where it was in 2011, the commission is counting an influx of cash from City Council.
"We need to find $45-million to buy new buses to keep the service levels as they currently are, and that will be a decision for council in January," said Ms. Stintz before Wednesday's meeting.