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‘The Home Standards Project’ wins Awesome Kingston February grant

Every month, Awesome Kingston gives away a $1000 micro-grant to a local project pitched by its creator. These days, the pitch party is happening virtually, but the outcome is still the same. No-strings-attached money is given to the winner to help them develop the projects that Awesome Kingston thinks will help keep Kingston awesome.

Nick Lorraway and Natalie Woodland were the February winners with The Home Standards Project, an assessment tool for renters to help identify issues and bylaw violations at their rental property.

After Nick and Natalie suffered through terrible conditions while living in the student district here in Kingston, they decided to do something about it.

The pair say the goal of The Home Standards Project is to provide a tool to help people understand minimum bylaw standards and advocate for themselves with more self assurance. “No one likes to ask their landlord to do something, especially if they were like ours, aggressive and rude,” the pair said. “We want to help empower people to demand these repairs. Like being someone in their corner.”

The pair say they applied for the Awesome Kingston microgrant simply because costs for the project started adding up.

“We’ve decided we want to make this project as good as possible and as professional as possible from the get go, because there’s obviously a connection between the professionalism of a site and the ability for us to get people to use it,” they shared in an email to Kingstonist.

“A lot of our project is based around legitimacy, who is legitimate to demand repairs, what is a legitimate repair, what are legitimately provided through the bylaw standards, so it’s important to have a site that reflects that seriousness and shows that we know what we’re talking about.”

The Home Standards Project hopes to educate people on their rights, and minimum standards rental units should be kept to.

“Minimum standards are there for a reason, anything below is a health and safety risk and, frankly, not something that belongs in our city,” the pair explained. “If you want to be a landlord, great, but it’s not just about collecting rent cheques. You need to make sure that maintenance is regularly conducted and the unit is above the minimum standard. Because if you’re not doing that, you’re not a landlord, you’re a slumlord.”

“This is an endemic problem,” they continued. “We want to expand to other cities, we think that this is something that needs to exist and getting it into the hands of as many people as possible can lead to better living conditions and hopefully a more equal playing field for renters. Our aim is to support groups on the ground like Katarokwi (Kingston) Union of Tenants.”

“Katarokwi (Kingston) Union of Tenants, are actively getting people off the street, and helping people living in subpar conditions, and just all around doing amazing work with no government support, often paying out of their own pocket. We hope to support them, and empower individuals to speak up and demand their rights.”
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