Tenants of an apartment building run by a Calgary non-profit organization that helps the homeless say the landlord is raising rents and not taking care of the building.
The Calgary Homeless Foundation has purchased more than 20 apartment buildings around the city in recent years and now acts as the property manager. The idea was that low-income clients would eventually replace tenants paying market rent.
Some of the tenants at the Claire Apartments in the southwest neighbourhood of Kingsland describe the Calgary Homeless Foundation as an absentee landlord, raising rents and not taking care of the building.
Hugh and Maureen Greenaway, who have been married for 65 years, thought this would be their last home. In two years, their rent on a two-bedroom suite has increased from $695 to $1,070 a month.
“They want us out. They made that very clear,” said Maureen.
“This has been our home and it’s going to be hard,” said Hugh. “I think they are going to force us out. I think they are going to keep raising the rent and we’ll have no choice.”
Another long-term tenant, George Mick, was evicted, but won a reprieve from Alberta’s dispute resolution board for landlords and tenants. He owes the Calgary Homeless Foundation $500 in back rent, but if he pays it on time, he won't be forced to leave.
Mick argues that if the rents are going to go up, the services should improve.
“The building has been deteriorating,” he said, describing the interior as starting to resemble a “tenement.”
Returning to “market rates”
Andrea Ranson, a spokeswoman for the Calgary Homeless Foundation, says the organization has repeatedly tried to do right by long-term tenants.
“There are some of the tenants from when we purchased the building who don't like how the building has changed. They were paying very low rent and we are slowly getting them back to a market rent. They don't like their neighbours.”
One tenant distributed leaflets describing the “illustrious low-end neighbours,” she said.
The organization has hundreds of apartments scattered throughout the city, and the vast majority of tenants are happy, she said.
“The negative feedback is hard, but like with any feedback you need to sit back and really say hey, where are the grains of truth here?”
The Calgary Homeless Foundation has offered to income-test long-term tenants to determine whether they would be eligible for subsidies.