Mohammad is the Tenant Organizer at the Lion Hotel.
My name is Mohammad Valayati and I first met Wendy in February 2015 and got involved with the Collaborative when they were helping the last tenants at the Clifton Hotel, who were being illegally evicted for a renoviction. I was one of those tenants.
I helped Wendy help the other 7 tenants “hold out.” Wendy helped me get $3,000 compensation and help to find new housing.
Since then I helped survey tenants at the Regent and the Balmoral and now I am organizing at the Lion Hotel. I hang out with the tenants a lot and give them some courage to speak out. In May 2016, I started helping tenants make 311 calls. In the winter, I helped tenants get media attention for no heat and hot water and fill out RTB applications for compensation. I collected a lot of donations for heaters, clothes, sleeping bags, socks and more for the tenants.
When I see justice is served, I feel satisfied. A landlord thinks he is saving money with no heat, but he needs to pay a price for no heat. Because of our campaign, the Lion Hotel now has heat. There is no way the Lion would have heat if it was not for us.
My most memorable moment was collecting donations for the Lion Hotel. A woman came by with a man in a wheelchair. She saw our sign and gave me two bags of brand new socks. She said tell them it’s cold, they need to have double socks. She said I’m sorry, I want to give more, but this is all we have to give.
My other most memorable moment was the time that we found a girl abandoned in a room with no lock on her door in the Regent. She had infected leg and it was in advance degree of infection. We found her just in time and got her to the hospital. God knows if we had not found her, something worse could have happened to her. Simple things can become complicated fast.