Rent is Coming Due this April and Many Niagarians Need Help

‘It’s time for a rent subsidy so that people can not only get through the month, but make it to the other side of this crisis without the crushing debt of months of unpaid rent behind them.’

A News Commentary by Niagara Falls NDP MPP Wayne Gates

Posted March 31st, 2020 on Niagara At Large

Niagara Falls NDP MPP Wayne Gates

For most residents of Niagara, it’s very likely that rent is due this week.

For too many of our neighbours the COVID-19 outbreak has meant lay-offs or lack of work which leaves people short of funds to pay rent.

It’s time for a rent subsidy so that people can not only get through the month, but make it to the other side of this crisis without the crushing debt of months of unpaid rent behind them.

I have said this before, COVID-19 is an extraordinary moment in Ontario’s history that requires equally extraordinary actions to tackle it. What we have is a health crisis alongside an economic crisis. When people already have little left in their budgets, COVID-19 can mean bills piling up without pay to match. People should be focused on their health, not rent or paying for groceries.

That’s why we need a plan to protect renters and get landlords paid.

Rent deferrals won’t do, it simply means that the bills will pile up. People will struggle to dig themselves out of these holes even when regular pay returns.

So we’re proposing a new method for these uncommon times. That method is a temporary rent subsidy. This subsidy would mean that tenants who have lost income would receive an 80 percent subsidy for up to four months.

We would couple this with a complete and legal ban on evictions, lockouts and disconnections, including business tenants, for four months. These times call for our community to come together which cannot happen when landlords are attempting to evict or threaten tenants with eviction. The same goes with utilities, while this pandemic continues there should be a ban on utility disconnections.

We must meet these historic times with compassionate policies that protect residents.

Students who were depending on summer jobs. Casino workers unable to cover rent fees on EI. Seniors draining their retirement savings to cover bills. Single parents choosing between baby formula and rent. These stories are all too common and are unacceptable.

Our plan is bold and ambitious, but we believe it shows that the Provincial Government is working for people and has their back.

On Friday, Ontario’s Minister of Municipal Affairs, Steve Clark wrote that he wants landlords to be “as flexible as possible when it comes to collecting rent.”

But relying on the kindness and hope is not a serious plan. Our rent subsidy is a serious plan and one that needs to happen right away.

NIAGARA AT LARGE encourages you to join the conversation by sharing your views on this post, along with your name (not a pseudonym),  in the space immediately below.

“A Politician Thinks Of The Next Election. A Leader Thinks Of The Next Generation.” – Bernie Sanders

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