| Ottawa : squat against the G8 !
We are occupying this building because it is a battleground in the war against the poor in Ottawa, a war by governments and corporations based on privatisation, market expansion and profit. While 15,000 people use Ottawa?s overcrowded shelter system, our federal and provincial governments ? following marching orders from the IMF, World Bank and G8 ? allow landlords, developers and realty companies to evict and brutalize the tenants and residents of our city.
This boarded-up house at 246 Gilmour St. is local evidence of the coldness and brutality of capitalism. It has sat unoccupied (officially) for 7 years. Now the city has ordered it torn down so the landlord is selling it. This kind of neglect is criminal, when thousands are homeless, while rents skyrocket and while the waiting list for social housing in Ottawa is 7 years long. This is also the disgusting reality of capitalism.
This house is not new to squatting. Many street folks have done so in the past. When they do they are harassed and brutalized by police during regular sweeps. We squat in solidarity with people living on the street. The police defend private abandoned property against people in need of a place to rest for the benefit of rich absentee landlords. We occupy this space to oppose the agenda of the G8 and neoliberalism and to assert our rights to affordable and adequate housing.
The 7 year wait has ended. The occupation of 246 Gilmour St. has begun!
Because we’re tired of waiting! The housing crisis in Ottawa needs immediate attention. People in this city need housing while buildings sit abandoned or get demolished. It has got to stop.
This squat is one of many; we will continue to take direct action as long as people are without shelter and liveable space.
We demand government provide housing for all – or get out of our way so we can provide it for ourselves!
OTTAWA’S HOUSING CRISIS
Rising rent, dwindling vacancies…
It is impossible to find an affordable, well-maintained apartment in Ottawa. In fact, in the year 2000 our vacancy rate was the worst in Canada: a measly 0.2%. Our bloodthirsty landlords responded predictably by harassing and evicting tenants to achieve a staggering average rent increase of 12% (also the highest in Canada).
Where does this leave us?
Homeless families required 71% more shelter bed nights from January to June in 2001 than during the same period in 2000. As a consequence, the number of households on the social housing waiting list grew to 15,000 in 1998, doubling in only five years. This doesn?t even account for 25,000 people who enquired but were too discouraged to apply. Families must now wait 7 years to have their needs addressed.
How did this happen?
Chretien’s Liberals stopped funding the development of new affordable housing in 1993. The provincial government followed suit three years later.
Then came the provincial Tories’ absurd Tenant ?Protection? Act:
· vacancy decontrol: no limit on rent charged to new tenants
· “fast-track” eviction: 5 calendar days
· rent increases up to 4%
· right to refuse to lease based on income
At the municipal level,an “Action Ottawa”plan was introduced in February of this year.It pledges to create -hold your breath – 250 units of ?affordable?housing. Three timesas many rental units were taken off the market each year between 1996 and 1998! Not to mention the 130 homes being bulldozed at Rockcliffe CFB this summer.
Destruction in Rockcliffe
This summer the federal government will bulldoze the homes of families living in Ottawa?s east end, demolishing an entire neighborhood for no reason.
Several years ago, the Department of National Defense (DND) allowed the city of Ottawa to house 50 families at CFB Rockliffe in former officer?s quarters. As these families moved on to other things, the city was not permitted to replace them. Now only 8 families remain, living in a neighborhood of 130 other empty homes.
These families are being evicted despite the fact the federal government has no plans to use the land. And the DND is demolishing the rest of the homes.
Fosiya Maful, who lives on the base with her husband and six children, recently told the Citizen, “I don’t know where we’ll go. Back to the shelter, maybe.” Why are these families being evicted when there are no plans for the land? Why is an entire neighborhood being demolished while 1000?s in Ottawa remain homeless or marginally housed?
In a city in the midst of a housing crisis, the bulldozing of a neighborhood and eviction of its residents by the federal government is an unforgivable crime.
We demand that the following steps be taken by federal, provincial and municipal governments to address Ottawa?s housing crisis:
· Enact a “use-it-or-lose-it” by-law declaring that buildings vacant for over one year be converted into social housing
· Stop the harrassment of homeless people and panhandlers by Ottawa police
· Halt the eviction of residents and demolition of houses and convert CFB Rockcliffe into social housing
· Reinstate rent control
· Commence the building of 2000 units of social housing each year in Ontario
· Replace the Tenant ?Protection? Act with legislation that actually protects tenants
· Recognize that Ottawa is unceded territory and honour Algonquin land claims