Hamilton tenants rally against gentrification

Politicians of all stripes are being asked to listen to tenants at Wednesday's rally for affordable housing in the city's core.

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A group of tenants who feel they are being pushed out because of Hamilton's housing boom are preparing for a rally to have their voice heard Wednesday night.

Billed as "When Tenants Get Together," the McLaren Park rally, near John and Cannon Streets, will let tenants share their stories in an event organizer Maria Antelo said she hopes politicians at all levels will hear.

"Right now, what tenants want is whatever is available to keep (rent) the way it is and prices shouldn't going up because our city is becoming a bit trendy." Antelo said. "At the same time there has to be a balance. Tenants understand that we do want beautification in our city, we do want investment in our city but we want politicians, developers to understand housing is a basic need, it's not a luxury."

Whether those politicians show up is something that Antelo will have to wait and see on.

"Unfortunately a lot of them, and I really understand, a lot of them are on vacation or not around," Antelo said.

'This is only the start'

"There's never a good or bad time to hold a rally as much as there's never a good or bad time landlords or corporations decide to come into Hamilton and harass tenants and force them to leave. That takes us all by surprise," Antelo added.

"It's probably not going to be the first time," Antelo said of the timing. "This is only the start of tents organizing, getting together and voicing their concerns."

History has not been kind to those in need of affordable housing in Hamilton. More than decade ago there were 4,362 applicants on the waiting list for rent-geared-to-income (RGI) housing. It dipped to around 3,817 in 2007, but by 2013, it was back up to 5,477. Some people will wait as long as five years.

In April, the Social Planning and Research Council of Hamilton issued a report profiling part of the gentrification picture in Hamilton, taking a snapshot of the North End. In it, the report found that as of 2011, nearly half of the homes in the North End were rentals, and that the average rent price had grown 23 per cent from 2010 to 2014 compared to 9 per cent for the rest of the city.

The rally is set to begin at 6 p.m.


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