One week ago was rent day for people everywhere, and many of those people were not able to submit those rent cheques because the COVID-19 quarantine has meant no money in the bank. April 1 was the first hurdle in what might be a months long dilemma for Canada’s renters. We could be on lockdown for the foreseeable future, so what happens when the rent cheques stop entirely?
We’re already thinking about it. An article in the Globe and Mail Tuesday by Moira Warburton and Denise Paglinawan warns that landlords need to brace for rent strikes as we get closer to May, and that the government might have to step in with rent subsidies. According to a CIBC economist, about 70 per cent of the rent that was due on April 1 was paid, which is good, but after one full month without wages, how many more people are going to start being left behind?
That’s why activists have begun to take action. Starting in Toronto’s Parkdale neighbourhood and spreading around Ontario, renters are organizing with a simple message: Keep your rent. In the short-term, what they’re arguing is the very practical consideration that a lot of renters live paycheque-to-paycheque, but there’s also the broader social justice message that our housing needs in this country are inadequate and expensive even at the best of times.
In other words, the COVID-19 pandemic is exposing long gaping holes in our housing system, but are people now finally in a position to listen and understand the need?
So this week on the podcast, we’re joined by Moon Richards, Danny Drew, and Dustin Brown of the Guelph Renters Union as they talk about how there’s still different levels of privilege when it comes to renters, and how it’s psychologically hard to take that first step to not pay the rent. They will also talk about their thoughts on why we can’t depend on government to come to the rescue, and how the quarantine has exacerbated the pre-existing conditions in our less-than-egalitarian housing market.
So let’s talk about the economics of keeping your rent on this week’s Guelph Politicast!
To find resources on renters’ rights, or to learn how you can get involved with the Guelph Renters’ Union, you can visit their website here. There are also resources for renters on the Government of Ontario website, which you can find here.
Also, when you subscribe to the Guelph Politicast channel and you will also get an episode of Open Sources Guelph every Monday, and an episode of End Credits every Friday.