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'They have nowhere to turn': Local tenant advocacy group demands city make renter protections budget priority


The London chapter of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) marched from Victoria Park to city hall over the noon hour on Tuesday.

They want the 2024 city budget to include money to help safeguard against exploitative practices by landlords.

The group brought in a special guest, with one of their members in a Santa outfit calling out a list of the top three priorities, including "landlord licencing, a renoviction by-law and a tenant defense fund."

Organizers of the Funds for Tenants march said renters are facing a litany of challenges, including run-down buildings, pests, escalating rents and what they believe are ruthless evictions by landlords’ who are intent on maximising profits.

"People are facing horrible living conditions,” said London ACORN member Claire Wittnebel. “They have nowhere to turn."

ACORN representatives said discussions with city staff haven't been encouraging, especially on the issue of a renoviction by-law.

London, Ont. ACORN members hold a noon hour demonstration in front of city hall on Dec. 12, 2023. (Gerry Dewan/CTV News London)

They said recently, by-laws have been introduced in Toronto and Hamilton. They point to New Westminster, B.C. where there were 333 renovictions between 2016 and 2018, dropping to zero in 2019 after a by-law was introduced.

"It is possible,” said ACORN member Nawton Chiles. “It has been done in cities all over Ontario and all over Canada."

Budget Committee Chair Elizabeth Peloza said the emphasis has to be on ensuring any investments will see results, and pointed to other steps the city has taken.

"The city also has programs available for help with first and last [month’s rent]. In addition to our housing wait list which we have recently re-prioritized so that those who have been waiting longest will get help sooner,” Coun. Peloza explained.

March organizers said even if they don't get what they want for Christmas they will continue to press for tenant protections in the New Year. Top Stories

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