Tenant Realities & Realizing the Right to Housing in Edmonton

Tenant Realities & Realizing the Right to Housing in Edmonton

Part of the work of the AHSL is exploring access to adequate housing.

Within this context, tenant organizing is an area of increasing interest that community members, community partners, and the public (especially renters) are interested in learning more about. Particularly as tenant organizing and collective bargaining is one way that households and individuals may be able to access their Right to Adequate housing.

While Alberta has a mixed history with collective organizing in the form of labour unions, there is a history of tenant associations dating back at least 100 years. Locally, there have been a number of groups including the Edmonton Tenants’ Protective Association (~1950), Westview Village Tenants Association (~1975), Edmonton Tenants’ Association (1970s1980s), the Edmonton and Area Tenants Association (1990s), and more recently, Alberta  ACORN.

This ongoing interest in tenant organizing is reflective of longstanding issues (i.e. lacking rental increase regulation) heightened by changes due to the financialization of housing.

To give some perspective on this, in 2006, 75.4% of Edmonton renters lived in primary rental housing (i.e. purpose-built rental housing) and 24.6% of renters tenants lived in secondary rental housing (i.e. condos, secondary suites, etc). In the case of the former (renters in primary rental housing), 7.6% lived in housing that was owned by a financialized entity (i.e. Real Estate Investment Trust, Asset Manager, Pension Fund, etc). Also of note, 81% of primary rental homes in Edmonton and surrounding area cost tenants $999 or less per month. 

In 2021 these numbers were very different.  An estimated 49.6% of renters lived in primary rental housing and 51.4% of renters (over half) lived in secondary housing. With regard to the former (tenants in primary rental housing), ~22.2% lived in housing that was financialized – an increase of nearly 15% from 2006. As well, the proportion of primary rental homes in Edmonton and surrounding area that cost $999 or less per month dropped down to 26%.

We are looking forward to the discussion in our upcoming panel on tenant organizing, and thank all for their interest in this event.

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