Bruno is a member of the York South-Weston (YSW) Tenants’ Union, a group of tenants and tenant associations in York-South Weston which helps to protect tenant rights.
The tenants’ union includes the following neighbourhoods: Pelmo Park, Weston, Rustic, Maple Leaf, Amesbury, Keelesdale, Silverthorn, Clearview Heights, Upper Junction, Stockyards, Harwood, Rockcliffe-Smythe, Roselands, and Mount Dennis.
Bruno sat down with us to talk about what the YSW Tenants’ Union does and how its actions relate to climate justice work.
Bruno Q 1 - What is the tenants union -
As a tenant himself Bruno, got involved with the YSW because he saw the potential of collective organizing among tenants as a way to fight back and create positive change.
Bruno Q 2 - Motivation
There is an existing power imbalance between landlords and tenants that Bruno and the YSW Tenants’ Union are fighting to change. Through collective organizing, the YSW Union has been successful in preventing evictions, renovictions and unjustified rent increases.
Bruno Q 4 - Successes
How do such issues relate to the climate movement? From air pollution to inadequate cooling solutions despite increasingly warm summers, Bruno outlined how the issues tenants face are often directly linked to climate change.
Bruno Q 6 - Environmental Impacts Part 1
Bruno also had an important message for members of the climate movement. It is essential that those of us in the climate movement consider how the solutions and adaptation measures that we propose impact others, including tenants. While solutions such as building retrofits may improve adaptation and mitigation efforts, these improvements must not result in rent increases and evictions for tenants.
Bruno Q 6 Part 2 - Environmental Impacts Part 2
When asked how climate groups can better support tenants, Bruno emphasized the need to take a climate justice approach by incorporating an equity lens. To do this, it is essential to understand and consider tenant experiences and offer support in tenant struggles.
Bruno Q 7 Part 1 - Supporting Tenants
When asked to list some concrete actions that support tenants and align with the climate movement, Bruno was ready with some suggestions. For him, starting with retrofits that don’t result in rent increases is one of the most important climate initiatives that can benefit tenants. In addition to this, affordable and efficient public transit throughout the city, and flooding mitigation are necessary climate initiatives that will positively impact people in his community.
As a final thought, we asked Bruno to describe his ideal world. He spoke of a community with more non-profit housing where housing is treated as a right. As well, he envisioned more public transportation and fewer cars which will allow the reclaiming of community spaces, and a cleaner Humber River.
Bruno Q 8 - A Better World
If you’re a tenant yourself, connect with people in your building and community. The best way to support the tenant union is to become a part of it! You can also learn more about tenant issues that YSW Tenants’ Union at https://www.tenantunion.ca/.