Toronto ACORN

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Inside Toronto: Downtown rally calls for affordable housing

July 13th, 2010 by Justin Skinner - Inside Toronto

Concerned over the lack of a national housing strategy, a group of local activists gathered in Toronto's financial core on Thursday, July 8.

A small group of housing advocates from the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, Canada (ACORN Canada) took their pleas to the streets, urging the Harper government to support Bill C-304, tabled by Vancouver East MP Libby Davies.

The bill calls for more funding for safe, affordable housing to help combat homelessness across the country.

Edward Lantz, chair of ACORN's St. James Town chapter, said they opted to lobby at the corner of King and Bay streets because it would be the best place to reach Conservative supporters.

"We don't have a Conservative MP in Toronto, but the majority of the support for the Conservative government comes from down here," he said.

Lantz noted both the Liberals and New Democrats have supported the idea of a national housing strategy. The Conservatives' refusal to support such a strategy, however, has left Canada as the only G8 country without one.

He said the recent G20 Summit showed where the Harper government's priorities lie.

"The current Harper government spent $1.5 billion on the G20," he said. "That could provide 16,000 new (affordable housing) units in the City of Toronto."

With waiting lists for affordable housing at an all-time high - the wait is currently at least 10 years - too many Canadians are forced to spend 30 per cent or more of their monthly income on rent, he said, adding that does not even take into account the hundreds of thousands of Canadians who are homeless, or those living in overcrowded spaces or substandard housing.

"We want landlords to be held accountable and we need rent controls," Lantz said. "The average rent in Toronto for a one-bedroom apartment is $800 to $900, and when you get most people making $13 or $14 and hour, prices have escalated too much."

Fellow ACORN member Carmen Respondek said the need for housing was critical. She echoed Lantz's sentiments that the money spent on G20 security should have gone toward housing instead.

"I was shocked when I heard about the fake lake," she said. "Who needs a fake lake when we don't have affordable housing?"

$100 million in repairs for tenants

$100,000,000.00 in repairs by landlords and inspectors sent to all 5,000+ of the city's high-rise buildings.

That's what 6 years of tenant organizing by Toronto ACORN and countless hours of dedicated members have earned.

The City brought in an enhanced apartment inspection program developed after pressure from Toronto ACORN and tenant groups late last year and now estimate it has resulted in $100 millions in repairs by landlords.  Further, Municipal Licensing and Standards is now sending inspectors to all 5,000+ highrises across Toronto to perform basic audits to find and target the worst buildings for increased inspections.

The program falls short of the comprehensive system of landlord licensing that Toronto ACORN has long campaigned.  Toronto ACORN members have fought for a system with hard financial penalties on negligent  landlords who refuse to maintain their buildings up the legal code.  Toronto ACORN members have held community actions, rallied at city hall, given deputations, and held city wide housing forums to build public support and awareness of the Toronto’s deteriorating housing stock and the need for reform.

ACORN members remain proud of this tremendous progress that has been made and remain committed to working with the City to expand and improve the enhanced inspection program.

Reception 2010

Support Working Families Fighting for a Livable Housing, Living Wages and Fair EI.

This is your chance to come out and celebrate 6 years of ACORN's organizing for justice, meet ACORN leaders, and learn about ACORN's victories.

We have had many important accomplishments in the last year:

  • Improved enforcement of Tenant standards;
  • Thousands of dollars invested by private landlords in apartment maintenance in Toronto and Ottawa;
  • Living Wage Campaigns Launched in Ottawa and Metro Vancouver.

We need your support to continue our organizing and leadership development efforts in low and moderate income communities.

When: May 13th, 2010 6:00-8:30

Where: 25 Cecil St., Toronto

About: The event will feature speakers, campaign highlights, awards, hors d'oeuvres and a cash bar.

For ticket info click here: http://2010reception.eventbrite.com/

Our sponsors

Ontario Minimum Wage Rises

Today, Ontario's minimum wage rises to $10.25 per hour - the third and final rise in the past three years.

It was an assertive community based campaign coupled with the by-election loss in York-South Weston (one of Ontario's poorest ridings) that eventually saw the McGuinty government to reverse its long standing opposition to minimum wage increases. Toronto ACORN members were a critical component of this campaign, packing into Town hall meetings, collecting petition signatures and building community support in working family neighbourhoods across Toronto.

Minimum wages remain one of the most important anti-poverty tools available to governments because of there "trickle-up" impact on wages of other low wage workers.  By raising the wage floor we are able to elevate more workers out of poverty - and not just minimum wage workers - but workers earning near the minimum wage.

Unfortunately, Ontario has no more new minimum wage increases planned, leaving open the possibility of these gains being lost to inflation and cost of living increases in years to come.  Ontario ACORN is calling for the Province to lay out a plan for future raises to bring the minimum wage above the poverty line and to peg the minimum wage to inflation.

Toronto ACORN worked closely with the Toronto District Labour Council as well as a number of other groups to help win this important campaign.

Tenants, allies join forces for tenant protection fee

On March 20th, Toronto ACORN held a forum with community leaders from across the city to renew our commitment to winning a proactive system of apartment inspection in the city.  ACORN members described to the 100+ person audience the long history of our housing campaigns in Toronto and the progress we’ve made up to this point.

At the municipal level, 7 City Councillors attended the event and all signed on to support the levying of a tenant protection fee on large landlords to fund a proactive inspection regime.  Further, they committed to support a motion coming before Council on March 31st that aims to ensure tenant input into any new apartment inspection system.

Unlike previous housing forums held by ACORN, this event included representatives from the Provincial government in support of enhancing provincial support for tenants.

Toronto ACORN is pursuing a meeting with the Minister of Housing, Jim Bradley to discuss our recommendation for provincial enhancements of the laws regulating apartment standards and new tools the municipalities could use to ensure fair housing for tenants.

Livable Housing Forum


March 1st, 2010 - Toronto ACORN is leading the city wide campaign to fix rental housing.

 

Last year the city launched a new inspection regime as a result of a multi-year campaign by Toronto ACORN, tenant groups and our allies on city council.  While this program has seen some results – it’s also further exposed the extent of the problem.

Toronto tenants continue to be forced to endure bed bugs, mold, poor maintenance and other abuses, largely at the hands of a handful of large corporate landlords.

As a next step in Toronto ACORN’s campaign to see the city expand and improve the existing program we are holding a City Wide Forum to rally tenants and announce new supporters of the campaign.

WHAT: Livable Housing Forum
WHEN: Saturday, March 20th, Noon

WHERE:  Main Square Community Centre (245 Main St. just south of Danforth ave.)

 

Sun: Inspectors to probe city's 5,000 rental buildings

City building inspectors are boldly going where they’ve never gone before in the battle against slum landlords.

“We’re actually going to get our own staff to go out there effectively with a checklist and do every single (rental) building in the city and kind of rate them,” Jim Hart, the executive director of Municipal Licensing and Standards, said.

“It’s a big job but we’re going to do it. We’ve barely started it but it’s going to get going in the next couple of months.”

Hart said no one has attempted to catalogue the rental stock in the city before because the job was seen as too big.

Undaunted, he’s determined to send out about 100 inspectors to give nearly 5,000 buildings a once-over, so his 12-member audit team can better focus its efforts on the buildings most in need of improvements.

Star: TTC Riders Unite

For Edward Lantz, who lives on a disability income, the January fare hike means $11 less each month for groceries.

"We know what's going on in regards to people on low incomes. They're having a hard time deciding whether to pay the rent – it's either rent or food – and now this added cost of the TTC pass is coming into play," said Lantz, chair of the St. James Town chapter of ACORN, another of the riders' union organizers. (The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now advocates for moderate and low-income families.)

Full article: http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/ttc/article/728923--riled-red-rocket-rid...

Sun: Wounded man won't tell police

The building is no stranger to trouble.

In June 2008, a 31-year-old man was shot in the buttocks during an argument on the ninth floor of the building.

And in 1992, the 14th floor was the scene of a knifing homicide that left postal worker Richard William Stevens, 43, dead.

"Tenants don't feel safe. There's no security," said Tatiana Jaunzems, field director for Toronto ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now).

"Many people are stuck there simply because they have no place to go."

Full Articles: http://www.torontosun.com/news/torontoandgta/2010/01/09/12401466-sun.html

Tenants Vote 2010

In the last 5 years we’ve petitioned, we’ve picketed, and we’ve organized.

But the next 16 months leading up the municipal election are going to decide whether Toronto City Council is interested in improving standards for tenants or simply letting the status quo remain.

Today, Toronto ACORN is announcing a plan to escalate this campaign.

In the coming months every City Councilor will have a chance to vote on an ACORN-backed proposal to levy a fee on large landlords to fund pro-active apartment inspections.

Toronto ACORN is pledging to use this vote as a yardstick to identify a number of key ridings to run aggressive campaigns to increase the tenant voter turnout by 25% in support of councilors or candidates who support tenants.

But we need our supporters online to send a message to council and let them know we’re serious. Can you help? (Just click the link below)

www.tenantsvote2010.ca

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