ACORN Canada: Nationwide Actions Call on Federal Government to Promote Community-Owned Housing

ACORN Canada: Nationwide Actions Call on Federal Government to Promote Community-Owned Housing

On Tuesday, July 25th ACORN held nation-wide actions in 9 cities demanding the federal government to end apartment sales to predatory landlords. At each local action, ACORN highlighted recently purchased buildings where tenants have faced the hard consequences of new corporations taking over Canada’s affordable market rental housing stock. ACORN’s Stop Financialized Landlords campaign is pushing the government to save Canada’s affordable market rental housing by creating ways that rental housing can become community owned on a large scale.

To make our housing community owned, ACORN is calling on the federal government to give the right of first refusal on apartment building purchases to land-trusts, co-ops, tenants, and non-profits when they are for sale AND create an acquisition fund to give these entities the financial backing to purchase the buildings.

Check out the amazing actions coast to coast!

BC: BC ACORN rallied outside the head office of corporate slumlord Onni Group. Tenants at Onni buildings have been fighting illegal fees, deplorable conditions and harassment for years, and now some Surrey apartments are hearing rumors of an upcoming redevelopment.

New West ACORN Chair Monica Bhandari led chants and quips against Onni, the “slumlord billionaire”, and spoke to reporters about why Onni is the perfect example of a predatory landlord who can’t be allowed to buy up any more apartment buildings!

Burnaby Chair Lori Pederson did a live interview with CBC radio after the action. Lori explained again why giving community owned housing the opportunity and means to buy apartments is the only answer that will protect tenants from predatory landlords.

Fredericton: A small but mighty group of ACORN members descended on the old apartment building of ACORN chair Nichola Taylor. Just 14 months ago, Nichola Taylor was famously renovicted from the building. Back at the scene of the crime, Taylor, flanked by her fellow ACORN members, made an impassioned plea to the federal government to stop the damage being done by predatory landlords like the one at 91 Main St. in Fredericton.

Halifax: NS ACORN members started outside the Dartmouth North Library and marched through Highfield and finished the march at 86 Highfield Park Dr. where NS ACORN leader Lisa Hayhurst lives. Westdale, the new owner of the building, has been grossly negligent with a range of issues tenants are facing. The staff at Westdale avoided us, even as we marched past their office chanting “Shame on Westdale!”. CityNews did a live phone interview for CityNews Radio with Todd Veinotte.

Hamilton: Hamilton ACORN members gathered outside of 20 Duke Street where tenants and members were joined ACORN leaders, Mountain co-chair Marnie and downtown chair Christine leading the action.

20 DS Inc. bought the building in 2021 and quickly went to work emptying the building for mass renovations to charge higher rents. Two ACORN members are left and fighting to save their homes from renoviction. The landlord has cut tenants’ internet, turned on the heat on hot days and shut off hot water for days with no warning. ACORN’s stopping corporate landlord campaign would give more rights to tenants to know who their landlord is and allow for an acquisition fund which prevented an investment company buying the building two years ago.
A corporate search lists Leora Bernstein as the owner and her husband Mayer Michalowicz’s office address listed as the headquarters. Leora is an Assistant Clinical Professor, Anesthesia at McMaster University and Mayer is an accountant and also listed as a co-president of the long-term care home Shalom Village.

London: Members got together at 1270 and 1280 Webster. In April, tenants at 1270 and 1280 Webster were informed that their building was bought by a new owner, who refused to disclose his name to tenants. Shortly after, at least 20 residents at 1270 & 1280 Webster street received N13 eviction notices and letters from their landlord with intimidating and misleading information enclosed. Tenants have since faced severe harassment, lack of repairs, and constant notices from building management about new fees the landlord is illegally demanding from tenants. The owner, Michael Klein, has been buying up properties across Ontario and evicting long-term tenants on the premise of “necessary repairs” all while boasting to investors about his work bringing buildings up to “market value.”

Tenants are tired of these slimy corporate slumlords! So, ACORN members from across London put in tons of work to get as many tenant submissions as possible to back up ACORN Canada’s submission to the National Housing Council’s review panel. With the combined efforts of our outreach teams, we collected nearly 40 forms detailing the experiences of tenants living under corporate landlords! 980 CFPL and London Free Press were also on the scene to catch our members in action! Stay tuned for press links from this event!

Waterloo region: Leaders got their neighbours out to an action in front of 267 Traynor Ave where tenants are currently being renovicted by local slumlord Mike Beer, who boasts about how his goal is to “increase the rents as much as possible”. Shortly after their building was bought by Beer, tenants of 267 Traynor began experiencing interruptions in their electricity and water, and a removal of amenities that were previously enjoyed for years prior. Several tenants have since received renoviction notices, so Waterloo Region ACORN held their Day of Action in front of the building to raise awareness of these horrible tactics used by greedy corporate landlords!

Members rallied outside the building, collected over a dozen completed forms and did outreach for the evening, distributing more forms and flyers to get more tenants involved! MP Mike Morris and councillor Debbie Chapman attended the action and spoke in support of ACORN’s campaign. Leaders Maribel and Meg did some pre-interviews before the action, with Maribel speaking on the local live radio station CKMS, and Meg interviewing with CBC news.

Ottawa: Members gathered outside of 142 Nepean Street to demand the federal government take action on the housing crisis NOW. In 2022, 142 Nepean St was bought by Taggart Group who has plans to demolish this affordable rental building and turn it into a parking garage! SHAME! ACORN members rallied outside of 142 Nepean St because it is a clear example of what happens when corporate landlords buy up affordable buildings just to turn a profit. ACORN members then walked to Bank St to do some outreach and ask people walking by to fill out a survey on their experience with corporate landlords. Over 15 people filled out surveys that will be submitted to the federal government to highlight the local consequences of Corporate Landlords’ dominance in the rental housing market. MASSIVE shoutout to our leaders Max Brazier and Alex McDonald for leading an amazing and powerful action!!! Judy Trinh from CTV came out to cover the action!!

Toronto: Awesome action with 80 people who turned out. Great showing of solidarity from community allies like Toronto & York Region Labour Council (Andria Babbington spoke), Don Valley Community Legal Services (had a tenant information table set up), Climate Justice Toronto, and Progress Toronto. MPP Mary-Margaret McMahon attended and spoke. MP Nathaniel Erskine-Smith sent a representative from his office who seemed keen to give him our federal demand letter. Global News came and took footage and interviews.

East York chair Alejandra ran the action to help support tenants in the building. We were outside of 75 Eastdale Ave because it was bought by COGIR last year and tenants are fed up with how they’re managing the building. Tenants who are ACORN members from the building also spoke about building specific issues. A little while back we held a tenant information day and petition launch at the building, so today tenants delivered the petitions and demand letter to the management office in the building. Management is almost never in that office and tenants have a lot of trouble reaching them. That being said, tenants said that while they were coming downstairs for the action they could see people in the office. However, when we went to deliver the demand letter and petition, the lights were out and the office was closed suddenly! Muhammad, a tenant of 75 Eastdale and an ACORN member, taped them to the door.

Members ended the action. Once we had wrapped up at the building, a smaller group went to the intersection by Main Street subway station and handed out our federal housing flyers that have the QR code for the online action.

Peel: Peel ACORN members gathered outside 55 Ardglen Drive in Brampton. The Ardglen place was brought by Boardwalk, a Real Estate Investment Trust. Tenants in the place have been grappling with a range of issues. There are big holes in the ceilings, plumbing issues, electrical issues and more. More recently, the landlord has been giving N8 notices to long-term tenants to evict them for no fault of their own. Even when the rent is deposited on time, it takes time for the bank to post the payment and that’s treated by the landlord as “late payment”. This is a scare tactic to evict long term tenants. The action was led by leaders Marcia Bryan, Tanya Burkart and Aiden Janey. Members also submitted work orders that will be send to the CEO of Boardwalk.