Monday 5 July 2021

When Gentrification Outruns Capitalism

Long-haired freaky people need not apply for housing in my city. If they dare, they don’t even get a reply. Gentrification-in-progress in an Ontario city near you! We’re in the upside down where even guaranteed Government subsidy like our Ontario Disability Support Program is seen as an unworthy form of income when it comes to finding a place to rent.

We see gentrification in other ways -- when the lease is king the clauses are lengthy. Rules rules everywhere! If you’re lucky enough for a balcony, therein lie rules as well. Another form of gentrification is our ability to stay cool each summer. Oh Ontario with your extreme temperatures. “Hot air for a cool breeze” is now for the well-to-do and the home-owner only if housing gentrification succeeds. What I can’t quite understand is how capitalism feels about this movement.

My fellow tenants and I recently received notice and recommendation that we no longer use our in-window a/c units. Lowes currently has the Arctic King in-window unit for $149!! Instead, it was recommended that we buy a portable in-unit air conditioner instead. Best Buy's cheapest portable unit is $399! One neighbor complied and paid $700 of his monthly ODSP funds for something he didn't even need.

Not gonna happen here. I bought my in-window a/c unit last summer using my credit card’s handy 12 month, no-interest payments deal. I had to in order to afford it. I am the average Ontario citizen! And even though my income hasn’t lessened since covid began, I still could never justify paying $300-$800 for a portable a/c unit if I had to. Could you? Should you have to? And once again, if in-window a/c units are unsafe then why are they still for sale and on sale at every hardware store in town? What happens to all that inventory if gentrification succeeds? Sale for the homeowner; boo-hoo for the renter? We're already seeing caste systems in Canada where financial disparity computes to being seen as less deserving of common pleasures and necessities too.

Speaking of air conditioning in rental units, have you ever paid more rent to use your a/c unit? This is a common and illegal practice yet many of my neighbors have paid $150 more in rent every summer just to put their own a/c units in. CBC Radio 1 was talking about deaths by heat being an issue this summer which got me researching. According to this CBC article, the B.C. Coroner states that 719 deaths last week alone can be attributed to the heat wave. In 2021, success comes by way of ignorance and fear as most renters are too fearful of eviction to ever question their landlord’s actions or demands. When will families of deceased tenants begin suing Landlords for using unethical tactics to dissuade the use of our a/c units that lead to their loved ones death?

Who ensures the Landlords follow the rules? As Ontarians are evicted for non-payment of rent at a time when they were legally unable to gain income, our Landlord and Tenant board seems to have camped out in the Landlord’s pockets. Heck, we can’t even pitch a tent in this city without running against housing rules. What gives?

The jig is up. Homelessness has side effects. Every single day I read about locals having their cars broken into. This is just the beginning. At this moment, I feel lucky to live on the eighth floor.

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