“Many of the people being displaced are the more vulnerable in our society.”
— Cassandra Roach
Editor’s Note: One of the aims of Transforming Stories, Driving Change is to bring greater attention to issues of gentrification and displacement in Hamilton. Cassandra Roach the Community Outreach Worker for Transforming Stories, Driving Change shares her reflections on displacement due to gentrification in the Hamilton area.
Displacement is the involuntary loss of housing, losing the place you live in due to no fault of your own. And gentrification has increased displacement in Hamilton. This is because gentrification increases the perceived value of a neighbourhood. People who have more money come into a low-income neighbourhood, and then they put more money into it. So, the price of everything goes up, including the price of rent. So landlords want to take advantage of this so they attempt to kick people out of the places that they live so that they can raise the rent.
The Residential Tenancy Act has rent control guidelines. For instance, in 2017 landlords could only raise tenants’ rent by 1.5% per year. The concern is that landlords are doing everything they can to kick current tenants out to raise the rent beyond the guideline. And so, people are priced out of their neighbourhood. These neighbourhoods might have resources that these folks need, or exist in a community that they love. Maybe their children go to school in these neighbourhoods, and now they have to leave and look for another place.
Now in Hamilton, the price of housing has increased everywhere. It is tough for people to find affordable housing. Folks on ODSP, on OW, people on fixed incomes, have a difficult time finding a place. And of course, many of the people being displaced are the more vulnerable in our society. Individuals who are new Canadians, who are racialized, single-parents, sex workers, people who are already having trouble paying the rent because of low income. Gentrification increases this issue tenfold. And then once people are pushed out, they are displaced. It is hard for them to find an affordable place in their neighbourhood because the rent has increased everywhere.