Posted March 24, 2020
This week could bring some reprieve for renters in Toronto hit with the economic fall-out of the pandemic.
Mayor John Tory is planning to talk to landlords Monday and has been in discussions with the Toronto Community Housing Corporation, which the city owns.
“I will gather major landlords and their representative associations on a conference call on Monday to explore ways to achieve my previously expressed desire to see tenants who need it given some leniency on their rents,” Tory said in an email Sunday, “especially if they have been recently displaced from jobs by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“There will be many tenants both inside and outside TCHC who will be hurt by current economic conditions, and we will work with private sector landlords and TCHC to achieve a result which will bring some relief for both groups.”
Organizations such as the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, or ACORN, have been calling for a temporary rent-free period for all renters and an immediate freeze on all rent rates, as well as numerous other measures to help Canadians through the pandemic.
“Mortgage deferrals are great for homeowners, but what about tenants?” wrote Marva Burnett, president of ACORN Canada in a statement. “We’re in the middle of the worst housing crisis in North America and now people are scared to work or getting laid off. We need a rent break or families are going to end up homeless when this is over.”
ACORN is a national organization of low-and moderate-income families. It has advocated for minimum wage increases and better building standards for apartments, among other things. It says 53 per cent of Canadians live paycheck to paycheck
One tenant, who pays market rent in a Toronto Community Housing building, is one of them.
He wrote to the mayor, as well as some councillors and a tenant organization, asking for a six-month rent deferral.
“I am a low wage earner who has been asked to remain home by the federal, provincial and municipal governments,” the tenant said in the email. “I don’t know how I will pay my $1.306 rent next month. I live paycheck to paycheck and I don’t have the comfort of working from home.
“Can you please take the lead for all the landlords in Canada privileged to get a six-month mortgage deferral and gives us TCHC renters a rent deferral also?”
As of Sunday, nearly 600,000 people had signed a petition started by Toronto resident Mark Rutherford to help people who no longer had the finances to pay rent.
“Major banks offered to defer mortgages but there are still no guarantees offered to tenants and we are still extremely vulnerable,” he wrote on change.org. “We’re continuing to push the provincial government to suspend rent payments during the Covid-19 pandemic and provide direct subsidies to compensate for these suspensions.”
Article by Patty Winsa for Toronto.com