Fix our hotel and keep rents low, residents tell city and province

For immediate release

June 5, 2014

Fix our hotel and keep rents low, residents tell city and province

Clifton resident Francis Filimenti
Clifton resident Francis Filimenti

Residents of the Clifton Hotel want the city and province to take immediate action to improve and save their homes. All residents of the single room occupancy hotel have been given eviction notices as the owner says he wants to renovate the dilapidated building which desperately needs repairs and maintenance.

“As soon as the new owner took over,” said Clifton hotel resident Shawn Thorpe, “the building went from being a community to a place where people feel threatened. Due to continuing lack of maintenance small issues turn into big issues cause they do nothing. A lot of people here can’t afford the higher rents in other places.”

“I don’t have a place to go,” added Roberto Manillo, another tenant. I’m on disability and there’s no other place. I’ve been assaulted twice in shelters.”

Tenants say that the Clifton has roaches and mice. Sometimes there is no water and no cleaning of washrooms. Hallways are dirty and unpainted.

“The Clifton is one of several hotels where owners are getting rid of low income tenants so they can upgrade and charge higher rents to students and young workers,” said Jean Swanson of the Carnegie Community Action Project. If the city and province allow this trend to continue, homelessness will increase even faster than it has in the last year because SRO hotels are the last stop before homelessness.”

“The city has lots of options,” said Swanson. It could use the Standards of Maintenance Bylaw to do the work necessary and bill the owner.  Then, if the owner doesn’t pay them, the city should take the hotel.  It’s a win, win situation.”

“Or, the city or province could lease the hotel,” said Swanson. “The province could base rent control on the unit, not the tenant, to keep rents down. Or the city could require the owner to get a non profit manager as a condition of having a business licence. The province needs to raise welfare and disability rates so people have enough money to pay rents. All of the options require political will,” said Swanson, “but if the city and province don’t take action residents of the Clifton and other hotels could be joining the ranks of the homeless.”

Click HERE to take a virtual tour of the Clifton SRO