‘We are stretched to our limits’: Advocates push for extension of Ontario rent freeze

Monique Gordon is frightened about her hire growing subsequent yr because the pandemic wears on.

The only mom was laid off at first of the pandemic and needed to make do with funds from the Canada Emergency Response Profit, which left her with solely a few hundred {dollars} every month after paying for hire, utilities and her telephone.

With Ontario’s pandemic hire freeze set to run out on the finish of the yr, Gordon’s month-to-month hire funds are set to rise by $15 in January. The Toronto resident has been known as again to her job as a safety guard however is worried about probably being laid off once more whereas having to pay extra in hire.

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“It’s laborious to try to make the cash stretch,” mentioned Gordon, who teared up throughout an interview. “We are able to see in a blink of an eye fixed, we will lose issues.”

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A number of tenant advocacy teams say they wish to see the provincial authorities prolong the present hire freeze to assist people who’ve but to completely recuperate from the financial fallout of COVID-19.

ACORN, which advocates for low- and middle-income residents, mentioned it plans to write down to the province to name for an extension to the hire freeze and a ban on above-guideline hire will increase.For 2022, the provincial has set a rise guideline of 1.2 per cent.

Alejandra Ruiz Vargas, chair of ACORN’s East York chapter in Toronto, burdened {that a} hire enhance in 2022 will solely make issues worse for the numerous tenants presently struggling to make funds.

She mentioned she spoke to 1 senior on a hard and fast earnings who’s left with little greater than $70 a month after paying her hire.

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“Think about her hire is $14 extra. Now, it’s how a lot (left over)? How are you going to dwell with that type of cash?” mentioned Ruiz Vargas. “It’s going to be powerful.”

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The provincial authorities handed laws to freeze hire at 2020 ranges final fall. That meant rents didn’t enhance this yr for the overwhelming majority of rented items coated below the Residential Tenancies Act.

One exception was hire will increase above provincial pointers that had been accepted by the Landlord and Tenant Board previous to Oct. 1, 2020.

Dania Majid, a workers lawyer with the Advocacy Centre for Tenants Ontario, mentioned there are a lot of tenants who misplaced their jobs or noticed cuts to their incomes who’re particularly in susceptible positions.

Majid mentioned her centre want to see the provincial hire freeze prolonged as a result of the economic system has not totally recovered from the pandemic and wages typically don’t enhance on the charges rents do.

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“(A hire enhance is) going to pose nice hardship for a lot of tenants whose incomes haven’t recovered … when issues are nonetheless so tight for them,” she mentioned.

Tenants who fell into arrears after the pandemic hit can be in a very powerful spot, she mentioned.

“These tenants are going to be paying much more out of pocket and that’s in all probability cash they don’t have, or they’ll have hassle making their different ends meet,” she mentioned.

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Elena Loven, an organizer with a tenants union for residence buildings in Toronto’s East York space, mentioned she’s needed to dip into her financial savings and reduce bills to maintain a roof over her head after being laid off at first of the pandemic.

Loven mentioned she received a discover of a 5.2 per cent hire enhance in 2020 earlier than the freeze laws took impact. Whereas she hasn’t but been knowledgeable of a hire hike for subsequent yr, she’s frightened about having the ability to stand up to additional potential will increase since her hours of labor at a Toronto daycare will not be but again as much as pre-pandemic ranges.

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“We’re working-class tenants. We can not face a number of hire will increase in such a (quick) time period, particularly throughout the time of the pandemic, after we battle already,” she mentioned. “We’re stretched to our limits.”

Ontario’s Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing mentioned the federal government has taken “decisive motion” to guard and assist the province’s 1.7 million rental households throughout the pandemic.

That features the hire freeze, briefly pausing the enforcement of residential evictions and offering municipalities with greater than $1 billion to assist housing and homelessness packages, it mentioned.

“Our authorities continues to work with all our companions to make sure Ontarians have a protected, steady, and inexpensive place to name house,” ministry spokesman Matt Carter mentioned.

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The Ontario Landlords Affiliation didn’t reply to a request for remark.

© 2021 The Canadian Press

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