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Rent changes will hurt poor mayor says

Numbers of homeless will rise, Hall fears

Toronto Star - Aug 14, 1997
By Paul Moloney

Proposed rent control changes will lead to more homelessness, Toronto Mayor Barbara Hall says.

The province's new Tenant Protection Act, which would scrap the current Rent Control Act, will reduce the stock of low-cost Toronto apartments , she said yesterday.

The law would lift rent controls once a tenant moves out or is evicted. Landlords could then raise the rents on those vacated units to whatever price they choose and the new rent would be subject to annual rent controls.

Known as Bill 96, the law is expected to be passed this fall to take effect Jan. 1.

Hall said low-income renters already move frequently and she fears some landlords will find ways to pressure even more to vacate their homes so rents can be hiked.

"Unscrupulous landlords will move people out, find a range of ways to do that. They'll make changes to their properties, move the rent up and those low-cost units will be lost."

"That legislation alone . . . will have a major impact over a short period of time on homelessness in our community."

Hall was speaking at a breakfast meeting with officials of the Toronto Christian Resource Centre, a downtown agency that works with homeless and hard-to-house people.

Since becoming mayor almost three years ago, homelessness has been a consistent source of letters to her office from citizens demanding action, Hall said.

The City of Toronto and Metro governments have responded by putting more money into street patrols and shelters, and volunteers have run wintertime shelters in churches, through the Out of the Cold program, she said.

"There's widespread outrage in the community when somebody freezes to death. We've seen many, many citizens show their concern by coming out and getting involved in programs."

Hall said she had thought the freezing deaths of three homeless men in the winter of 1995-96 would spur the provincial government to act, but there has been little response.

Some fear the new megacity council, which takes office Jan. 1, won't place a high priority on fighting homelessness, Hall said.

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