In partnership with ACORN Ottawa, funded by Ottawa Community Foundation, the Alliance co-designed and delivered the Housing Leadership School, a series of webinars, toolkits, and supportive FAQ content, to empower citizens to better understand housing policy, to advocate for change, and to know and protect their right to housing.

Webinars & Toolkits

FAQ

NOAH stands for Naturally Occurring Affordable Housing. This refers to private market rental units that are more affordable, specifically $750.00 or less for a one bedroom apartment.


https://www.focus-consult.com/why-canada-needs-a-non-market-rental-acquisition-strategy/

Rental replacement and anti-displacement bylaws preserve and enhance existing affordable rental housing in the private market.
Anti-displacement policy and rent replacement bylaws ensures 1:1 replacement of affordable rental units in the new development to be offered back to existing tenants at the same rent and number of bedrooms and mandating landlord to cover moving costs and offer temporary accommodation or rent stabilization during the time it takes to renovate/redevelop the property. In the absence of rental replacement bylaws, the existing NOAH properties are at risk.

Because of the Residential Tenancies Act that governs municipalities, a city needs permission from the provincial government to enact a rent retention bylaw. Because of this, rent retention bylaws vary provincially. 

Residential Tenancies Act (full document) 

Residential Tenancies Act (summary) 

Inclusionary zoning policy would ensure that new residential developments include a percentage of affordable units for people with low to moderate income.

While the best practice is for housing to remain affordable in perpetuity, many agreements for inclusionary zoning are for 10-25 years, and mortgages for co-ops and social housing have 30 year mortgages. When these contracts end, the affordability of these housing units can easily be lost.

This is why building or acquiring rental housing with the intention of perpetual affordability is so important. Partnerships with non-profit housing providers and community land trusts can make a big difference.

Acquisition is the idea of taking buildings that are already built and being able to convert them into affordable housing with the intention, especially if they are publicly or socially owned, for the housing to be of good quality. This also includes taking non residential housing and converting into residential housing (ex. Hotels, office buildings, churches). Having a list of properties that are most at risk of being lost would be crucial for an effective acquisition strategy.
An acquisition strategy would mean that non-profit housing organizations would have the time and ability to get available rental housing stock. The implementation of a municipal right to first refusal bylaw would grant initial access to these properties to the City.

Unless utilities are included in rent, they are not expressed in rent amounts. However, including utilities and transportation is important in the definition of affordable housing.

According to CMHC, housing is affordable if it costs 30% or less of a household’s before-tax income.
However, different rental housing development programs and incentives make use of different definitions. Many consider affordable housing to be based on Average Market Rent (80% or lower). But we know that when housing prices far outstrip what households are earning, the “average market rent” model does not reflect what a household can afford in reality.


In contrast, if all households truly paid only 30% of their income on housing - whatever that income is - it could significantly reduce poverty, as housing is often one of the largest items in a household budget.


Further to that, if affordability also included other metrics like proximity to amenities, cost of transportation for work, and access to supports, it would be an even better reflection of what households can actually afford.

Affordable housing can be provided by the private, public and non-profit sectors and can be in the form of rental, ownership and co-operative ownership, as well as temporary and permanent housing.

A short term rental bylaw is a partial ban on short term rentals (ex. AirBnB), in which the city bans short term rentals in vacant properties that could otherwise be used as affordable housing. A short term rental bylaw also includes a landlord registry for short term rentals.


More information on short term rental bylaws in the City of Ottawa: https://ottawa.ca/en/living-ottawa/laws-licences-and-permits/laws/laws-z/short-term-rental-law-no-2021-104

Many municipalities do ‘street counts’, also known as Point-in-time Counts, however these are based on a given moment, and do not account for everyone who is experiencing street homelessness or housing precarity. The HIFIS data only identifies those sleeping in shelters and accessing services, and does not include those who are sleeping rough, couchsurfing, doubling up, staying in violence against women shelters, staying in violent relationships because of fear of losing their home and children, experiencing harassment from landlords, or involuntary institutionalization.

Most barriers and inequities in the system can be solved with the right kind of policies and partnerships. But it’s true that these barriers and inequities often stem from systemically-rooted behaviors and beliefs, so we need to go deeper to create change.

Some of the unexamined assumptions and stereotypes in current housing policies include the assumptions that people who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless are single (not families), that everyone has the same access to the same programs, and that people know their rights.

One way to address this is by listening directly to those who are housing insecure, ensuring that their experiences inform the policies we advocate for, and that individuals and the organizations that represent them are meaningfully engaged.

What we need is a cultural shift that values social housing and does not treat property ownership as the ultimate goal. Since the 1980s, neoliberal policies have accelerated homeownership through commodification, gentrification, and subsidies targeting homeowners rather than renters. This has led to a significant imbalance in rental development and support, which further fuels the idea that social housing is the least desirable option.
However, there is gorgeous social housing in other countries, where there is no discernible difference between social and private housing. You can have a really good life as a renter, just like you can have a really good life without owning a car. It is a matter of people getting over cultural stereotypes that are so entrenched in how we make decisions and set our expectations.


Since Canada doesn’t directly provide much social housing, it needs to at least steer the private market more effectively. However these same neoliberal policies have encouraged market steering of public goods as well.

A one pager that is sent to the media (CBC, CTV, etc.) that explains the problem that a group is facing and what we want done about it. The goal is to gain media attention, though there are no guarantees that a press release will mean reporters respond.

Some important information to include in your press release are: contact information of the appointed spokesperson (phone, email) and a direct quote that communicates the issue. Getting press is beneficial to any group, as it is an opportunity to get exposure for the issue that your group is passionate about. Click here for an example of a press release.

Assign an independent Housing Ombudsperson to implement the right to housing in line with the federal commitment to housing as a human right. The Ombudsperson’s work would include monitoring progress in meeting timelines and targets of the 10 Year Plan, reviewing submissions of violations of the right to housing, and giving City Council recommendations to fulfill its human rights obligations. An example is the Housing Commissioner Office in the City of Toronto.

There are power dynamics between the civil servants (city staff) and the councilors. Therefore, it is important to advocate and call for accountability from our elected councilors. We can exercise our approval for decisions by voting, however it is a challenge that this is only every 4 years. Other ways to put pressure on councilors is through deputations and contacting councilors, holding them accountable to the issues that are important to their constituents.

It also takes organizing to effect change, because it is easy to ignore single stories without large community support.

Click here for an example of how organizing can bring social change.

You can request campaign funding information from the city to find out which campaigns receive contributions from developers. In Halifax there is a new rule of no campaign donations from developers, which has made a difference in a more diverse and representative council.

Click here to read a report on how developer donations may have impacted city councillors’ voting record on housing. 

Rejection and resistance are part of the process. It is important to be aware of how the person is interacting with you, and consider what the barriers might be.

Keep in mind there are 3 types of no’s: 

  1. No not right now (ex. They’re running out the door to pick up their kid from school)
    • Here you can respond by giving them the quick version and leaving them with more information to follow up on later
  2. No not that (ex. They don’t want to go to a meeting, but they’ll sign a petition)
    • Identify and remove any barriers to participation. If that’s not successful then offer them an alternative. 
  3. No not ever (ex. They’re not supportive of the topic)
    • If they’re very unsupportive then move on! There are lots of people out there who DO want to engage and every no gets you closer to a yes. 

A Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) is a company that owns, operates, or finances income-generating real estate. They make it possible for individual investors to earn dividends from real estate, without having to buy, manage, or finance any properties, by pooling the capital of numerous investors.
CAPREIT is the largest REIT in Canada.


ACORN is forming a national CAPREIT Tenant Union. If you want more info on REITS and CAPREIT specifically you can read up here:

https://acorncanada.org/resource/acorn-capreit-tenant-union-platform
https://www.investopedia.com/terms/r/reit.asp

A renoviction is when a landlord evicts a tenant to repair or to renovate the rental unit. The unit is often more expensive when it is placed back on the rental market after the repairs or renovations are complete. Landlords need to issue an N13 notice in order to do renovations, but this doesn’t always happen. Sometimes a landlord might pressure or intimidate a tenant to leave. For example, raising the price of building amenities, making frequent and unannounced visits, or delaying response to maintenance requests.


There have been significant increases with covid and large companies practicing renovictions.


More information on evictions/renovictions and tenants rights you can check out this link: https://acorncanada.org/tenant-rights-ontario

If your landlord has issued you an eviction notice for major repairs or renovations you do not have to leave. If you stay past the move-out date written on the eviction notice (N13), the landlord will apply to the Landlord Tenant Board (LTB) for a hearing.  Tenants legally have the right to return to their unit after renovations at the same rent, however, landlords often would rather pay the fine than allow tenants to return. Tenants can advocate to stay in their units while the repairs/renovations happen if they feel their landlord will not respect their right to return. 

This would require a strong, united fight from many tenants in the building. Reach out to ACORN for support on organizing tenants in your building.

People not directly impacted by housing or tenant rights can help by advocating alongside grassroots tenant activism, increasing capacity and resources to these efforts. 

See list of resources below.

The 2019 National Housing Strategy recognizes housing as a human right. This means that people have a right to adequate housing that is secure, peaceful, and respects their dignity. Choice in housing is critical to the right to housing, and people have the right to live in an encampment and not be evicted.

However, The UN Commission on Human Rights identifies that, at a minimum, adequate housing meets the criteria of:

  • security of tenure (protection against forced evictions)
  • availability of basic services (water, sanitation, electricity, phone, and internet access)
  • affordability (so that housing cost does not restrict other essential needs such as food, utilities, education and transport)
  • habitability (of premises to ensure physical safety, as well as protection from the elements and threats to health, including overcrowding, mold, etc.)
  • accessibility (in order to meet the needs of marginalized groups such as people with disability)
  • cultural adequacy (to encourage appropriate services for Indigenous, women, LGBTQI2S and other marginalized residents)
  • location (close to employment opportunities, health services, schools, public transit, and other essential facilities).

It is important to ensure that there are adequate housing options for people that respect this criteria. Otherwise, their choice of housing may be a reflection of substandard conditions being the only other option.

The law applies to any rental in the city. So if you are renting a condo, yes, it still applies.

See this document which summarizes Ontario’s Residential Tenancies Act and its applications: 

ACORN has been organizing tenants in Herongate and Manor Village to save their homes from ‘demoviction’. This is when a developer wants to mass evict tenants and demolish their affordable homes for other purposes. While advocating to protect their homes, ACORN members living in these neighbourhoods would also highlight how these are systemic issues that require systemic solutions like rental replacement bylaws and anti displacement policies. Click here to read ACORN’s blog on how the City could end mass displacement and the loss of affordable housing based on their members’ experiences in Herongate and Manor Village. 

Resources

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