Renters rally for rights

[attach]509[/attach]The message is simple: If you pay your rent, you should have a proper place to live.

The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (Acorn) held a rally July 7 in an effort to increase tenant voter turnout for the 2010 municipal elections.

They aim to make their voice heard on the issue of livable housing.

“All we want is equal value for the money renters are paying,” said Edward Vantz, chair of St. Jamestown ‘s Acorn chapter.

The rally took place in the small park behind the Wellesley community centre and is part of the group’s campaign titled, “My rent, my vote” targeting wards with high densities of buildings where landlords fail to keep up with building code.

During the campaign rally more than 40 people mailed letters to each city council member asking for their rental-housing platform.

“Come election time we are going merge all the numbers we have and let the people of each community how their councillor feels about renters in the community, said Lantz.

For five years Acorn — who boast more than 15,000 members in 11 chapters across the city — have been fighting issues that concern low-income earners across Canada, including the right to livable housing.

Several city representatives attended the event in support.

“I haven’t met a councillor yet who doesn’t think landlords should maintain their properties and apartments in decent conditions,” said Janet Davis, Ward 31 councillor. “I don’t think its fair for the rest of the taxpayers to pay more for bad landlords.”

Tenants like Laura Howell say they are forced to live in despicable housing conditions that are littered with bedbugs, mould, broken elevators, no heat in winter and no security.

“It was draining living there,” said Howell.

She said she lived with broken water pipes, no heating for two winters and went without a working toilet for two months.