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Hamilton housing crisis on display

Hamilton housing crisis on display

Hamilton councillors had very few questions for the roughly one dozen members of the public who appeared before the General Issues Committee pleading with councillors to not give a tax increment grant to the developer Malleum. The Toronto developer has been purchasing older apartment buildings in the central and eastern core, and renovating them–or as tenants who were displaced in the process called it–reno-victing. Malleum was applying for a tax increment grant—a grant program the city developed 20 years ago to encourage downtown development. Under the plan, the developer receives a rebate on a portion of the additional taxes that arise as a result of their development. In the case of Malleum it took over an apartment complex at 540 King Street East, displaced all of the existing tenants who had been paying rents in the $800 per month range, renovated the units and put them back on the market for $1495 a month, for a one-bedroom unit. As a result, Malleum had more than doubled the taxable value of the property and under the plan would qualify for $170,000 in tax rebates over five years. Some of those who appeared were tenants who had been forced out of the 540 King complex, other were members of the tenant advocacy group ACORN. Their message was a simple one-why is the city handing out money to organizations that are evicting poor people from their homes and adding to Hamilton’s housing crisis?

Moments before the Malleum debate, council had voted to give a similar grant to Vrancor for an apartment complex being built on Main Street East. Staff pointed out that the Vrancor complex is a new built project and does not involve reno-victions. In the end, with several councillors indicating they were prepared to deny the grant to Malleum, it was decided to have legal staff prepare a report on whether council could turn down the Malleum grant without incurring legal liability. To-date Hamilton has never refused a tax-increment grant, which have mostly gone to new construction. The city has changed the tax-increment grant policy to discourage reno-victions but the Malleum request was filed before the changes took place.

Malleum is one of several developers who started buying up properties in the lower city after the Hamilton LRT had passed a major hurdle in 2017. It is expected that the construction of the LRT will raise property speculation along its route, beyond that which has already taken place and with that will only come further home affordability issues. Nonetheless the councillors representing wards 1 through 4 all supported the LRT project. Hamilton has a backlog of 5,000 applications for social housing. Meanwhile, whether Council grants the Malleum tax rebate or not, some 36 formerly affordable rental units have gone off the market for good.

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  • Just curious where you got the number of only 5000 waiting for social housing as I have been told the number is over 15,000.

    When I look at council I just become angry that they, meaning council did not care about the people, only greed and money.

    Council has a lot to answer for clearly these elected people lack the skill, knowledge, compassion to envision the impact of stupid decisions that the unelected aka as staff bring forward for the corporation.

    Worried about legal liability yet there was no concern about legal liability for Sewergate, how about the RED HILL EXPRESSWAY.

    No financial help for those at the bottom living in tents, no assistance for tenants fighting evictions. The hamster wheel of despair aka shelter health clinic network who do nothing either. My recent engagement with one entity of the hamster wheel of despair did nothing except to make me feel as if I was discriminated against because I’m on ODSP.

    Im going to send a query to human rights code and ask have I just experienced discrimination because of my disability? Beware, Keep your Home program is newspeak in Orwellian language. How much funding do these goons get?

    I’m blessed I had allies out there to win round one of this eviction process, may not win the next round. It is absolutely life altering experience which affects physical, mental and emotional health of individuals.

    We are led by individuals who are sociopathic, no conscience was do ever. People need to fight back.

  • My personal opinion of Acorn Hamilton, is that they do not speak for people like myself. Look at who supports them, a variety of not for profits that are behind the LRT which could could surmise in the pockets of developers and property speculators.

    You have to pay a membership fee which annually amounts to close to $200. That in itself excludes many who are low income, those who are homeless living in tents. The middle class individuals, once again drowning out the voices of low income people.

    City council has a responsibility to ensure that property standards are ENFORCED!! They do not and city council has been in cahoots to the erosion of rights for almost two decades now.

    One Dayna Sparkes, I like to talk to her and give her earful. Her Tenant Defense Fund does nothing for tenants fighting N12s. She does not even consider that the hamster wheel of despair and their allies have caused much trauma. They created the new and improved poor house mentality.

    What city does not need is another so called not for profit, that steps on low income people.

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