Massive landlord plans to take back apartment donated to help feed tenants in Toronto
A group of tenants at 103 and 105 West Lodge Ave. in Parkdale have been running a food bank out of an empty unit in their building for several months now in support of residents experiencing food insecurity, but landlord Hazelview Properties recently told tenants they must shut it down by June 7.
Tentants first started running the food bank out of the building's lobby last fall, and they later moved the initiative outside due to rising COVID-19 cases.
Shortly after, based on the knowledge that hundreds of units were sitting unused, organizers took over an empty apartment and eventually came to an agreement with Hazelview to operate the food bank out of the space rent-free.
this is my building and we won’t stop here! https://t.co/LljjjPuvjg— no covid evictions. (@patersonmonday) April 24, 2021
Last week, however, tenants circulated a flyer suggesting that Hazelview had given them notice to vacate the space by June 7.
"For over 6 months neighbours have been organizing together to make sure no-one goes without food at West Lodge. We took over unit 203 and 103 to make sure we could continue this work," reads the flyer.
"Now Hazelview has given us notice to get out by June 7th because they found signs in a closet that say 'Defend Triller, Defend Parkale' and 'Organizing is not a crime.'"
But tenants aren't going down without a fight, and West Lodge residents met with one another this past weekend to discuss ways to defend the food bank against Hazelview — which manages or has investments in hundreds of properties worth $8.9 billion.
"We need to make a plan to defend the food bank," tenants said. "We won't let Hazelview scare us."
We had our 2nd Food Bank day this weekend. We served ~100 families in less than an hour.— West Lodge Tenants - No COVID Evictions! (@west_lodge) November 29, 2020
A good day, but a reminder that times are tough especially for our neighbours here at West Lodge.
All the more despicable our landlord refuses to negotiate rent relief. /1 pic.twitter.com/kdbJzZE7DF
In an interview with blogTO last year, West Lodge tenant and food bank organizer Paterson Hodgson said the food bank was being used by hundreds of residents each week, adding that the steadily increasing demand was proof of just how needed the initiative truly was.
"We know people are choosing to pay rent over food and other household necessities. I see it, I hear about it," Hodgson said.
"Every week, more people show up. Everyone who works on running the food bank usually also takes home items — this initiative isn't charity, it's tenants helping each other and themselves."
West Lodge Food Bank, with files from Sophie Chong
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