Calls for action on National Housing Day

by | Nov 22, 2019

ACORN member Blaine Cameron demands better affordable housing in Ottawa outside city hall on Nov. 22. Photo by Sharanya Tharmarajan

ACORN and allies call for more affordable housing for all

“Who are we? ACORN! What do we want? Affordable housing! When do we want it? Now!” 

These chants were heard Friday as about 50 people gathered at Marion Dewar Plaza outside Ottawa’s city hall to demand affordable housing and fair landlord regulations. 

The rally was led by ACORN, a national organization that advocates for social and economic justice. 

“I’m seeing throughout Ottawa and the world, that affordable housing has become less available,” said ACORN member Blaine Cameron. “We need better protections and to reinstate funding.” 

According to results from the 2018 Canadian Housing Survey, released on Nov. 22 by Statistics Canada. Graphic illustration by Hannah Rivkin.

ACORN is pushing city council to set aside $15 million annually for affordable housing. On Friday Mayor Jim Watson took to Twitter to say that money would be invested in housing and homelessness.

Cameron described the current state of homelessness in Ottawa as unacceptable. 

“We have people in the city living in tents. We have approximately 65 people spending nights outside as of now,” said Cameron. “Imagine, in this weather, sleeping outside. We are human beings.” 

ACORN also called for the city to implement a landlord registration bylaw similar to Toronto’s Rent Safe Program.

“It’s a bylaw that calls for proactive inspections by the city,” said Cameron. “Sometimes tenants don’t approach the city because they do not understand their rights, there is a language barrier or there is a fear of ruining relationships with landlords.”

A landlord registration could help Ottawa residents like Michaela Fitzpatrick, who has had her share of nightmare experiences with housing. 

“I’ve had bad experiences living in private rentals, paying $400 to $800 for not-so-great living conditions. There were bed bugs in the apartment. I sent pictures to the landlord who never got back to me,” Fitzpatrick told those rallying.

“Shame!” yelled the crowd in response.

Fitzpatrick said she also dealt with flooding in her apartment. “A superintendent put a paper towel over it and said he would get to it later.”

For Fitzpatrick, the bylaw would hold landlords accountable for providing tenants with acceptable living conditions.

“Landlords deal with the cosmetics of their units but don’t take the time to actually fix what is beneath the surface,” she said.