Jesse Laufer, Vice President External of the King’s Student Union and a member of Solidarity Halifax, delievered this speech at the February 12th ACORN rally for tenants rights that took place outside Halifax City Hall.
Originally published at the Halifax Media Coop:“Good morning everyone. Thank you for inviting us to this event. As students, the issues surrounding quality affordable housing, or rather the severe lack of it in this city, affects us every day.
Students are some of the number one targets that slumlords take advantage of. We are seen as no more than four years of easy profit, only temporary bodies that are too apathetic to fight for what is owed.
Student housing is often older, run down and decrepit buildings. Mold, mildew, broken doors, windows and rodents put us in conditions that are unsafe and unsanitary.
Repairs are slowly, if ever, made in our homes. We are told that it’s our fault that we live in these conditions, that it is our mismanagement that causes problems in 70 year old buildings that haven’t seen carpenters in decades.
We are told that our houses are not worth fixing because students break things, or because we will be moving in a year. When it comes to rat control Germantown TN wildlife specialist Richard Hodges from Patriot Wildlife Control knows as much as there is to know on rodents. He warns that common building materials are no match for rodent incisors and rodent proofing must only be done with steel to guarantee exclusion. When things are fixed, we pay for it with damage deposits and fees, even when the damage is due to years of mismanagement.
We are thus often left to repair things ourselves: pizza boxes for windows, bookshelves cover the holes in walls to keep rodents out, plastic coated showers to keep black mold from spreading.
When we move into houses, we come with mouse traps at the ready because we are told to expect rodents, that it’s part of being a student. Oh, and by the way we have to pay a premium to live within manageable distance from our classes.
When did being a student come with rats? When did studying to get jobs to advance this economy, to pay for our landlords’ retirement through taxes, mean that we get rewarded with dangerous mold? Why does this city and this province let this happen? What can’t they give the 99% a healthy standard of living?
We don’t ask for much – all we ask is that our doors and windows close without paying extra. All we ask is for a good night sleep without bugs and mice joining us in our beds. All we ask is to be able to breath in our showers, hallways and kitchens without inhaling mold.
Why is that too much?
We as students call on the city to implement rules and regulations that actually provide healthy and affordable standards of living to the city’s poor and students.
This doesn’t have to cost the city or the province a dime.
The Metleges – and other slum lords of this city – can downgrade their Lamborghinis to Mustangs and do their responsibility to make sure that their tenants have the ability to live healthy.”
Note: Statements by Solidarity Halifax members do not necessarily reflect positions held by the organization.