Climate Groups Solidarity Letter to Dream Unlimited

We must stop the greenwashing of corporate greed, especially as we know that the climate crisis is already impacting the most vulnerable in our society. We do not support the usage of federal crown corporation funds to greenwash rent increases and we stand in solidarity with the demands of tenants at 33 King St. and 22 John.


 

To: 
Michael Cooper, President and CEO Dream Unlimited Corp

CC: 
Sean Fraser, Federal Minister of Housing, Infrastructure and Communities
Jenny Kwan, Federal Housing Critic
Romy Bowers, President and CEO, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
Bharat Masrani, President and CEO, TD Canada Trust


Striking against unfair rent increases

Tenants of Dream Unlimited at 33 King St.and 22 John St. in Weston Commons have been facing excessive and unwarranted rent increases over the last five years. 33 King St. is currently facing the highest number of above-guideline rent increases (AGIs) in Toronto and as part of the York South-Weston Tenant Union (YSWTU) has gone on a rent strike starting June 1st 2023 to withhold rents until demands to stop AGIs and compensate for a loss of service are met by Dream. Rents at 33 King have gone up by 22% in the past five years alone leaving working people and those on fixed incomes including seniors struggling to pay for groceries. 22 John St. was one of the first buildings in Toronto to operate without rent control, despite being built on public land with approximately $10M of public funding. As a result they have seen monthly rent increases of 7-10% every year, and sometimes as high as 20%. Tenants at 22 John St joined the rent strike on July 1st 2023.

Toronto’s north-western wards including York South-Weston are historically racialized and affordable areas that have long been home to Toronto’s Black neighbourhoods. This is part of a bigger picture of the displacement and gentrification of working-class, immigrant and Black neighbourhoods in Toronto where high rates of evictions are occurring due to corporate landlords cashing in on new transit infrastructure (Eglinton Line 5) and demand for housing.

 

Greenwashing corporate landlord greed

Dream Unlimited has stated that its AGI increases are driven by “decarbonization” efforts to retrofit the building and that the Residence at Weston building will decrease energy consumption by a minimum of 15 per cent and greenhouse gas emissions by a minimum of 25 per cent. In Dream’s 2022 Sustainability Report it plainly states that its intention to decarbonize is directly related to attracting “a certain type of tenant” aka displacing long-term, racialized and fixed-income tenants who have called 33 King St home for decades.

“the expected benefits to result from investing in net zero initiatives, including the impact on people and the planet and delivery of returns to our investors; the retrofit of buildings across our portfolios and the expected benefits therefrom, including [...] increase in rents, GHG reductions, returns, and attraction of certain tenants;”

- Dream 2022 Sustainability Report

Dream worked directly with the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), Canada’s largest crown corporation to design the program through which it received mortgage insurance as well as a $153M loan from TD bank to finance the project. The program for the mortgage insurance is called “MLI Select” and implements a points system for mortgage insurance for multi-unit buildings that takes into account emissions reductions and affordable housing levels. So why is Canada’s largest crown corporation using public funds to finance “decarbonization” retrofitting without stipulating that current tenants will not be displaced or face higher rents?

In 2020 buildings emissions made up 58% of Toronto’s GHG emissions by sector and multi-family buildings make up a quarter of total emissions in the GTHA. We must retrofit multi-unit buildings to stop the climate crisis but large corporate landlords like Dream which makes a 50% profit on rents should not be allowed to pass along these costs to long-term tenants, working people, immigrants, young families and seniors who live in these buildings.

We must stop the greenwashing of corporate greed, especially as we know that the climate crisis is already impacting the most vulnerable in our society. In extreme heat temperatures tenants at 33 King St and 22 John have not been able to use their pool despite these exorbitant rent increases. We do not support the usage of federal crown corporation funds to greenwash rent increases and we stand in solidarity with the demands of tenants at 33 King St. and 22 John calling on Dream Unlimited to:

  1. withdraw the existing above guideline rent increases (AGIs) at 33 King
  2. commit to no more AGIs at 33 King
  3. rent discount to compensate for loss of services at 33 King and 22 John
  4. abide by rent control at 22 John

 

In solidarity,

Climate Justice Toronto
Toronto Environmental Alliance
ACORN Tenant Union
Democratic Socialists of Canada, Toronto Chapter
350.org
OPIRG Toronto
Climate Justice U of T
For Our Kids Toronto
Scarborough Environmental Association
Green 13
Climate Action for Lifelong Learners
Ecologos | Water Docs
ClimateFast
Climate Pledge Collective
Music Declares Emergency Canada
Stand.earth
Greenpeace Canada
Banking on a Better Future

 

 

 

 

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