Dan is the Tenant Organizer at the West Hotel.
My name is Dan Zimmermann, I live at the West Hotel and I’ve been a Tenant Rep for the SRO Collaborative for a year.
We have been through so much.
My most memorable moment this year was was August 19 when we served 94 hearing packages to the landlord at the West. It was a big deal for tenants because it had high impact and exposure. It was a huge turning point.
Wendy helped us through the whole stressful period when the building spiralled out of control when we went for 74 days with no staff ending up with the double homicide. That was not fun, it was serious.
Doing all of our own maintenance inspection forms, getting applications filled out, proof of incomes from tenants, all the photocopying and support – it’s a big job.
If we hadn’t have done anything, where would be today? We forced the landlord to do everything from a $1M outer façade repair because of the work we did for a year to get city orders and RTB claims for holes in the walls and mould to forcing the landlord to hire a company that cleans up trauma sites because the landlord left pools of blood on the carpet for 4 days. They wouldn’t evict or support the hoarders in the building so we got the city and mental health involved. We forced them to fix the hot water and elevator. They would have never touched them without us pushing. Whatever they can leave and ignore, they do. We’re teaching them that if they ignore it, it’s going to cost you, one way or another.
I don’t like all of the tenants, most of them are a pain in the ass. But I like old people. I respect my elders. I grab them food once in awhile. We were spending so much time together doing these RTB hearings – if I wasn’t spending so much time on the RTB stuff, I could be looking after the old guys on my floor. We had to empty Terry’s bucket for months because he couldn’t go to the washrooms when the building was out of control and the bathrooms didn’t work. A few of us on our floor were helping (Terry is deaf and blind). When we don’t see one for awhile we check it over. You can measure society in how they take care of their elders and their poor. I don’t like much of what I see happening to them.
I was really proud helping Harvey on my floor, (65 years old and disabled with a walker). We got an order for the landlord to put a radiant heater in his room and they ignored it. They always think they can ignore the RTB. They tried to get him a new room so they could get out of doing it, but he didn’t want another room because he likes his neighbours. We got a second order and an order to use a licensed contractor. Harvey got one and half months free rent and an ongoing rent reduction. The best part was the landlord has to go back to the RTB and has the burden of proving the heater works before the rent abatement is lifted. I hope others can take what we are learning and use it.