Ottawa is experiencing an extreme shortage of affordable housing and it is estimated that one-in-four rental households live in unsuitable lodgings. Some tenants can’t keep up with rising rents, others often live in squalid conditions and deal with unscrupulous landlords. Ottawa ACORN has a long history of organizing in low and moderate-income neighbourhoods, helping tenants access their rights while building power in the process. The Centre has awarded $45,000 to their Tenant-Led Action Plan to Address Ottawa’s Affordable and Livable Housing Crisis.
The project will be comprised of two tenant-rights action groups: the first will focus on ensuring tenants are included in the creation of policies for improved standards in deficient buildings. The second will focus on the creation of more affordable housing in target neighborhoods, including Herongate. Here, tenants were victims of two large “demovictions” that displaced over 180 households over a three-year period as buildings were razed. The result: once affordable market rental townhomes were replaced with high-end luxury suites. Using their successful approach of door-knocking and a “train-the-trainer” model of building tenant leadership, Ottawa ACORN will also connect tenants experiencing crisis issues with a team of lawyers and law students who will also organize workshops on recurrent issues such as eviction support, rent abatement, excessive rent increases and more. ACORN Ottawa expects “we will be able to benefit 300 to 450 people directly as well as reach out to 2,000 to 3,000 people during the course of the project.”