Lead­ers in vul­ner­a­ble neigh­bour­hoods will be taught about le­gal rights

The Hamilton Spectator - - LOCAL - MOLLY HAYES mhayes@thes­pec.com 905-526-3214 | @mol­ly­hayes

A new pro­gram by the So­cial Plan­ning and Re­search Coun­cil hopes to bet­ter sup­port new Cana­di­ans at risk of dis­place­ment in quickly gen­tri­fy­ing Hamil­ton.

As the ten­ta­cles of gen­tri­fi­ca­tion spread across the city, and hous­ing prices and rent costs con­tinue to rise, some ten­ants across the city are be­ing left vul­ner­a­ble — and many don’t know their rights.

“There are things that aren’t bad about re­newal,” Cas­san­dra Roach says. “But when your ur­ban re­newal, your re­vi­tal­iza­tion of a street or neigh­bour­hood, comes at the cost of push­ing out the peo­ple who were there … how can you jus­tify it?”

Roach is spear­head­ing the [Dis]place­ment Pro­ject, a So­cial Plan­ning and Re­search Coun­cil ini­tia­tive that is be­ing funded by the Law Foun­da­tion of On­tario to sup­port new Cana­di­ans with land­lord-ten­ant is­sues.

The pro­gram will pro­vide com­mu­nity-based le­gal ed­u­ca­tion to so­cial ser­vice providers and com­mu­nity lead­ers in the Beasley and Riverdale neigh­bour­hoods, to bet­ter in­form them on is­sues such as ten­ant rights and by­laws — in­for­ma­tion that they will then be able to take back and share with res­i­dents.

The need for such a pro­gram be­came ap­par­ent af­ter the dis­place­ment of res­i­dents in the Beasley neigh­bour­hood over the last few years, Roach ex­plains.

Ten­ants in build­ings at 181 John St. N. and 192 Hugh­son St. N., for ex­am­ple — both man­aged by Green­win Inc. — have been forced to move out as a re­sult of ren­o­va­tions, re­pairs and rent in­creases.

“Ren­ovic­tion,” Roach calls it; an at­tempt to clear out ten­ants in or­der to jack up the rent.

And they’re now see­ing sim­i­lar tac­tics be­ing used in the Riverdale neigh­bour­hood across the city.

Nee­lan As­lam has lived in Riverdale for eight years. One of the high­lights of her neigh­bour­hood, she says, is the num­ber of com­mu­nity-based sup­ports avail­able to new­com­ers. But in re­cent years, as prop­erty val­ues go up, she has seen new land­lords take over high­rise build­ings and in­crease the rent. She knows of cases where land­lords of­fer ‘buy­outs’ to ten­ants to move out, so they can charge new ten­ants higher rates.

The big­gest prob­lem, she says, is that ten­ants — par­tic­u­larly those new to the coun­try, and those who do not speak English — don’t know their rights.

“They don’t want to be tar­geted, so they are just re­luc­tant to say any­thing so that they don’t get kicked out of their apart­ment,” she says. “It’s re­ally, re­ally im­por­tant that they be ed­u­cated on the laws.” Ghanwa Afach agrees.

“An es­tab­lished Cana­dian fam­ily in a sim­i­lar cir­cum­stance would be able to con­nect with avail­able re­sources eas­ily and [would not] al­low man­age­ment to ha­rass them,” she says. “But new­com­ers don’t have knowl­edge of in­sti­tu­tions and the hous­ing sys­tem; they also don’t have knowl­edge of their own rights and re­spon­si­bil­i­ties un­der the law.”

Both Afach and As­lam are iden­ti­fied com­mu­nity lead­ers who will be re­ceiv­ing the train­ing through the [Dis]place­ment pro­ject.

The le­gal train­ing will be pro­vided by the Hamil­ton Com­mu­nity Le­gal Clinic, Core Col­lab­o­ra­tive Learn­ing and the SPRC. There will be three five-week train­ing work­shops; one for Beasley com­mu­nity lead­ers, one for Riverdale lead­ers.

CATHIE COWARD, THE HAMIL­TON SPEC­TA­TOR

Peo­ple in lower-val­ued rental units may be forced out.

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