Pearl River Talking to Sydnee Blum, ACORN’s head organizer in eastern Canada on Wade’s World , she told a shocking story of a member in one of the neighborhoods who was paying rent of $1000 CN per month. In Halifax, Nova Scotia, landlords can only raise rent once per year. She got a notice of a $2000 per month hike! The tiny stock of affordable housing for rent or purchase has sent prices through the roof in a growth spurt in this area, partially spiked by urban flight from the pandemic. ACORN members are demanding rent controls in order to survive.
A colleague sent me an update the same day from Berlin, where the most radical, and perhaps the most effective action is taking place. Tenant activists obtained 350,000 signatures, almost three times what was needed, in order to put a measure before voters in coming weeks that would confiscate the rental properties of owners of 3000 or more units. Wow! In the USA, landlords would be up in arms, since property rights seem to trump all other rights in this country. An organizer with ACORN in the United Kingdom sent me pictures of their meeting to make a five-year plan to address these housing issues as a tenants’ union. It’s happening now!
Nova Scotia ACORN is serious, as Sydnee told us. This week they held an all-day occupation at the Nova Scotia Legislature to demand permanent rent control!
Even after ACORN won a temporary 2% rent cap in November 2020, the crisis has continued.
The new government has made it clear that they are not interested in protecting tenants from unreasonable rent increases past the state of emergency, so ACORN rallied in front of the legislature to demand they keep the rent cap. 70 people at the initial rally, with 150 people dropping by throughout the day to sit in, tell their stories, and protest the government’s unwillingness to protect tenants.
ACORN leaders spoke about everything from the discrimination they’ve faced as newcomers finding housing, to affordability, to issues getting repairs done in buildings. Allied organizations and unions joined to both hold workshops and speak to the crowd.
ACORN has already forced a response from Premier Tim Houston. Residential Tenancies emailed the night of September 23rd and said the government no longer plans to lift the state of emergency when we go to phase 5, so the rent cap will stay in place for a bit longer. ACORN knows this isn’t enough, and we’re going to fight to make sure the rent cap is permanent!
Tenants with ACORN are serious whether in Canada, Scotland, England, or even Atlanta where our new chapters are organizing. It’s not Germany, but it’s happening, and it’s getting bigger by the day!