Corporate landlord is “greenwashing” unconscionable rent increases says coalition of environmental groups
A coalition of nineteen climate groups is speaking out against “greenwashing” of gentrification and displacement tactics by corporate landlord Dream Unlimited. Tenants in two Dream-owned high rises have experienced exorbitant rent increases in the last five years, and are currently on rent strike. Dream has attributed these increases to “decarbonization” retrofits.
The coalition of climate groups delivered an open letter in solidarity with striking tenants, calling on Dream to drop its above guideline rent increases (AGIs), stop applying for more and abide by rent control.
“Despite making a significant 50% profit on the rent they collect, Dream shifts the costs of "green retrofitting" onto their tenants which is unacceptable and unjust. They market themselves as environmentally friendly by claiming to implement eco-friendly initiatives. However, these initiatives come at the expense of the tenants that include working people, seniors, and immigrants and are leading to the displacement of these long-term tenants, especially those from racially diverse communities in Toronto” said Aatika Moollabhai of Climate Justice Toronto.
Dream worked directly with the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporate (CMHC), to design a program for project financing, which they then received. The program gives higher benefits for green retrofitting of buildings. Climate groups are asking why Canada’s largest crown corporation the CMHC is using public funds to finance “decarbonization” retrofitting without stipulating that current tenants will not be displaced or face higher rents.
Anthony Alao lives in 22 John and has seen his monthly rent increase 7-10% every year. Despite being built on public land with approximately $10M of public funding, his building has no rent control. “They increase our rents whatever they want, and they don’t tell you that when you move in. Dream Unlimited talks a big talk about caring for our community and for the environment, but they’re squeezing us dry” He joined the rent strike on July 1st with his neighbours. “In fact, Dream Unlimited themselves say the reason they want to go green is so they can ‘increase rents’ and ‘attract a certain type of tenant’. What do you think they mean by that? They’re not talking about me, that’s for sure.”
Sharlene Henry lives at 33 King St, the building facing the highest number of AGIs in Toronto which has been on rent strike since June 1st. She said, “I’m raising my kids in this community, but we can’t take these kinds of rent increases anymore.” Henry added, “to add insult to injury, they’re asking us to pay more for less because we haven’t been able to use our balconies or pool for years and the heat waves are getting worse every summer.”
The coalition delivered an open letter to Dream Unlimited headquarters today. Their demands, echo those of striking tenants, and include:
- Withdraw the existing above guideline rent increases (AGIs) at 33 King
- Commit to no more AGIs at 33 King
- Rent discount to compensate for loss of services at 33 King and 22 John
- Abide by rent control at 22 John
In the News:
National Observer: Climate groups, tenants accuse Toronto landlord of ‘greenwashing’ rent hikes