Advocacy group calls on city council to provide grants to help people pay rent
LONDON, ONT. -- An advocacy group for tenants is calling on London City Council to provide more grants to help people pay their rent during the pandemic.
The local chapter of ACORN Canada held a small rally at city hall seeking a 'rent-relief fund' which would help low income Londoners keep their apartments.
London ACORN states the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation's annual report on the city of London had 8,130 units where tenants fell behind on their rent – about 16 per cent of all units in the London census metropolitan area.
"Loans are good. They keep people from going out on the streets, but even if they are interest free, they just kick the can down the road. If you are in debt at the start of this, you will still be in debt at the end," said Nawton Chiles of Acorn London.
London ACORN suggests the City of London use some of the Social Services Relief funds which was provided by the province that implemented a rent grant program through the Housing Stability Bank.
"We have had meetings with Housing Stability Bank about changing the criteria for those who would be eligible since we are in unprecedented times and we need unprecedented solutions," reads part of a letter to the city council.
While ACORN points out in the letter that most of the SSRF funding went to the Winter Homeless Response effort, Hotel shelter, and isolation space rooms and affordable housing units, their members feel there has not been real rent relief benefits from the federal or provincial government.
The group wants city hall to move away from rent bank loans and follow Toronto's model of offering grants that do not need repayment.