Megan Ruttan of Waterloo Region ACORN joins Bob Jonkman to talk about evictions, renovictions, tenants’ rights, and setting up a tenants’ union in Waterloo Region.
The interview starts at 10m02s.
Waterloo Region ACORN:
- Waterloo Region ACORN: https://acorncanada.org/locations/waterloo-acorn/
- Facebook: Waterloo Region ACORN | Facebook
- Instagram: @waterlooregionacorn | Instagram
- E-mail: email@example.com Waterloo Region ACORN
- ACORN Canada: https://acorncanada.org/
- ACORN Radio: ACORN Radio
- Twitter: @ACORNCanada | Twitter
- Facebook: ACORN Canada | Facebook
- Instagram: @acorncanada | Instagram
- YouTube: ACORN Canada | YouTube
Meg Ruttan Online:
- Website: https://avarietyofmeltdowns.wordpress.com/
- Fediverse: @firstname.lastname@example.org | Fediverse
- Facebook: Meg Ruttan Walker | Facebook
- Instagram: @megruttanwalker | Instagram
Day of Action
- When: Thursday, 14 September 2023
- Where: To Be Determined
- Website: Waterloo Region ACORN Facebook events
Download: ckms-community-connections-2023-07-31-episode135-Meg-Ruttan-of-Waterloo-Region-ACORN.mp3 (50 MB, 54m11s, episode 135)
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CKMS Community Connections
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Genre-Bending Pt. 2 (Beat Challenge)
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|Introducing Megan Ruttan and ACORN: The Association for Community Organizations for Reform Now, a low- to moderate-income tenants union, but they take on any issues that their members want to take on, for example payday loans. The union is just getting set up now to help fight renovictions and demovictions. Megan herself is experiencing attempts at renoviction. This has been happening for at least six years. This pre-dates ACORN, but ACORN would have fought it by drawing attention to it by direct action such as protests. There have been rallies against other renovictions in Kitchener. Landlords intimidate tenants by withholding information, so that tenants do not know what their rights are, or even who their landlord is. ACORN in Hamilton has helped create a by-law that makes it illegal to evict people in Hamilton for renovations. But each municipality will have different by-laws. ACORN has just held a national day of action on the financialization of housing. They’re asking for a law that will give first right of refusal will go to housing organizations, co-ops, and other businesses that want to build affordable housing. Waterloo Region ACORN has about 500 members; about 15 full members who pay $15/month in dues, but many people can’t afford that. Waterloo Region ACORN started about three months ago, in April.
|Beam Blues Live
|Waterloo Region ACORN has a three month plan, meeting in August to plan an action to take place in September. They’re building membership; anyone is welcome to join, not just renters. The August meeting will be hybrid, both in-person and online for Covid safety. The national organization in Ottawa and the chapter in London have provided a lot of help in the form of flyers, handouts, mailing lists, &c. The money from dues goes towards copying costs and SDCWR for use of their facilities. The entire region of Waterloo has an epidemic of unsheltered people. The chapter was named Waterloo Region ACORN to include everyone in the region; it’s not just a Kitchener issue.
|“The financialization of housing” treats housing as an investment, not as shelter or homes, or as a human right. Municipalities are not building purpose-built rental housing; many politicians to make this happen to own rental properties, and seem disinclined to reduce their holdings to build affordable housing. Globally, the climate crisis is creating climate refugees, who need housing. Do we have shelter for these people? We need to build housing. The municipalities need to build the housing, not just pass by-laws or re-zones. The City of Kitchener is not acting to build housing or reduce renovictions when they had the chance to vote on zoning changes. Their answer seems to be to police housing. If they don’t build housing, people will die. Who could be affected by the housing crisis? Almost every renter. What happens with the laws that require landlords to provide the renovated units to former tenants? It gets ignored, landlords just rent to new, higher-paying tenants. People in this situation don’t have the capacity, “the spoons”, to deal with this. Megan has the spoons to deal with this because she’s connected in the community, and knows the resources.
|How did Waterloo Region ACORN get started here? There were already people with memberships in other chapters; people contacted the national chapter; they already had a mailing list! Everything is connected, Megan was already active in climate organizing, political organization; if one issue is advanced, the others are too.
|Who’s Gonna Suffer
Twelve Bar Prescription
|FOG Blues & Brass Band
|How do people get involved if they have no background in tenant organization? Come to the meeting in August, ACORN will provide training on door knocking, &c. They’ll knock on the doors of tenants to let them know help is available. They’ve reached out to local politicians, but not all have responded. Talking about other events where ACORN has had a presence. Giving credit to Maribel and other leaders, their appearances in local media.
|What about all the local construction? It’s mostly condominiums, only 15% affordable housing. Condos aren’t affordable housing. The tenants’ union is the opposite of a Home Owners’ Association, the union lifts you up, doesn’t repress your rights.
|Reviewing Waterloo Region ACORN‘s presence on social media. Talking about Project Mushroom, an online presence for social activists. It had some setbacks when the founder discovered it could not be monetized, but Megan and others are still keeping it alive.
|Bob gives the end credits.