"My heart is so stressed": Reflections from a rent striker fighting rent increases

Hamilton Tenant: V01, I02

Vet, a long-time tenant of Stoney Creek Towers, recently spoke about why it is important for tenants to work with their neigh- bours to fight rent increases they can’t afford. Vet’s landlord, InterRent REIT, has applied for an Above Guideline Increase (AGI) through its in-house property management company, CLV Group. The proposed rent increase would total almost 10% over two years, the equivalent of an extra $70 or $80 per month for most households. As rents climb while wages and social assistance rates remain the same, tenants feel the squeeze. We know there’s something wrong when we have to choose between rent and groceries, rent and medicine, rent and bus fare, rent and support- ing our family members when they need some help. Like Vet, we should work with our neighbours to fight back.

Vet’s reflection:

I have eight kids and four grandkids and my income is not too much. Sometimes they come to me to ask for help, and I don’t have money. And with the rent increase...and the food is very expensive, so I don’t have enough money to support my family, to pay the bills and everything I need to do to support my kids and my grandkids. And my husband, he gets paid only $600 a week and some weeks he can’t get work. And CLV, they do everything they can to get money from the tenants. They pull out the trees,

they put new flowers, they paint the hallway, put new apartment doors. They do everything to decorate the building. They claim it all on AGI. And we don’t have money for that. So right now we go on rent strike. We need to fight it. And a lot of my people [in the Cambodian community], they don’t speak English, and they scare more and more. Everything they do is to put pressure on the tenant. We need you people to support us on our rent strike. We need you people to help us. My heart is so stressed, you know.

Vet in her apartment at 77 Delawana Drive.