Tenant School


Halton Tenant SchoolHalton Tenant School was a six month education programme for low income tenants in Halton Region. The programme provided legal information to tenants and those whose work includes supporting tenants. The curriculum covered evictions, repairs, rent increases, rent calculations in subsidized housing and Human Rights in housing. Also included was basic training in organizing tenant support groups.

Halton Community Legal Services partnered with Voices for Change Halton for this project.

To prepare for the School, Voices members constructed a housing survey and completed a process of distribution and administration to find out what kinds of problems were of concern to tenants. Voices and interested survey participants met in September 2012 to analyze the survey results. The data was used to develop the curriculum for five sessions of Tenant School delivered throughout Halton in the fall of 2012.

Funding was provided through the Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities and Employment Ontario with funding from the Federal Government.


Halton Tenant School “By The Numbers”

‘people are people, hunger and housing are (issues for) all.’

Cathy Stokes – Voices for Change member

HaltonTenantSchool was a six month education programme for low income tenants in Halton Region. The goal was to have 100 low income tenants attend a no cost one day public legal education workshop providing legal information on evictions, repairs, rent increases, rent calculations in subsidized housing, and Human Rights in housing. This education programme was also designed to provide basic training in tenant organizing.

In order to develop a meaningful curriculum that would meet the needs of low income tenants, the first phase of the project was the development, administration and analysis of a survey on the housing issues experienced by low income tenants. The methodology employed was that of Participant Action Research.

Designing and administering the survey:

  • 12 Voices Steering Committee members and volunteers designed and administered the housing survey.
  • 134 surveys were completed by low income tenants.
  • 16 volunteers analyzed the survey data.
  • 6 agencies administered the tenant survey themselves - Bridging the Gap, HCLS-phone & website, Our Kids Network-Aldershot Hub at Holy Rosary School, Acton Food Share, Links2Care, St Vincent de Paul, Compassion Society, Literacy Council.
  • 10 locations where volunteers attended in person:  Ontario Works/ODSP offices in Oakville, Milton & Burlington, Wellington Square Dinners, Glad Tidings Dinners, 24/7 Church Dinners, OASIS, St Christopher’s Dinners and Kerr St Ministries.

Key survey results:

  • 59% of those surveyed lived in housing that needed repair or had maintenance issues.
  • 39% of those surveyed had to wait for more than a month for the work to be done.
  • 23% of those surveyed had moved from Halton at some point in their lives to find affordable housing.
  • 30% of those surveyed had requested help from a rent bank or applied for a Community Start up Benefit.
  • 34% of those surveyed experienced discrimination in securing housing – most often because they were in receipt of social assistance.

 Tenant Schools

  • 5 sessions were held across the Region
  • 127 people attended.
  • Burlington, the home community for Voices for Change, was the busiest location.
  • 92% of those who attended liked it very much
  • 19 people identified they wanted to join Voices for Change.

At an orientation session for the new members of Voices, the group decided to continue the focus on housing issues. The overall goal is to improve accessibility to housing. This means:

  • Improving access for people with physical and mental health disabilities within
  • Halton Housing
  • Co-ops
  • Private rentals
  • Improving access for people with low incomes by
    • Addressing issues around rent geared to income
    • Availability of affordable housing
    • Improving access to people with power – decision-makers
    • Increasing public awareness of all these issues.

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