Building momentum: Third Heatwave Safe Rentals campaign meeting plans summer event

Last week, renters and supporters came together for the third Heatwave Safe Rentals campaign meeting, to plan an upcoming summer event and discuss how we can take advantage of the Victorian Government’s inquiry into the rental and housing crisis. The campaign gained momentum with the addition of new supporters joining the meeting, united by a shared commitment to securing safe, cool homes for renters.

The two key issues that came up in our discussion about the Inquiry were:

1. Maximising renters’ voices in Sweltering Cities’ submission: Our focus centered on our submission to the rental crisis inquiry, and how important it is for the Victorian Government to hear directly from renters about what it feels like to rent in a hot home. You can read our final submission here.

2. Amplifying renters’ voices by engaging with the Inquiry’s public hearings: A number of attendees expressed interest in sharing their experiences of renting at the Inquiry’s public hearings. We know that firsthand testimonies will be crucial in keeping the pressure on our politicians to address the urgent needs of renters who are sick of living in dangerously hot homes. We are working to secure a spot in these hearings, which are due to be held in August and September.

The group set the wheels in motion for a summer event scheduled for October. The goal of this event is to amplify our campaign asks and urge our politicians to address the concerns of renters’ living in hot homes as a matter of urgency. Recognising the importance of having a political presence at the event, the group acknowledged the need to ensure that it doesn’t devolve into a political point-scoring match. Instead, the focus of the event must be on creating a platform that spotlights the voices of individuals with lived experience of renting in hot homes.

We discussed the importance of working with allied groups on the event, in order to position our heat-specific focus within the broader context of renters’ rights. By teaming up with other groups and individuals, including local sustainability groups, renters’ unions and academics, we can ensure that the event is impossible for decision-makers to overlook. We can compel the Victorian Government to make the necessary legislative changes that will keep our communities safe during sweltering summers.

It was suggested that we invite an introductory speaker to frame the event within the context of the broader cost of living crisis, rising rents and energy efficiency. We discussed the idea of inviting an expert to the event to explain what energy efficient houses should look like, what planning standards should be enforced as well as the benefits of increasing the energy efficiency of rental homes.

Everyone agreed that the event should serve as a platform to amplify our campaign goals. We discussed the importance of selecting a strategic date for the event. An idea was raised to use International Tenants Day to help generate media attention for the event. We discussed the possibility of choosing the event location based on the Heat Vulnerability Index rating, which lists suburbs across Melbourne that are most affected by extreme heat. By shining a spotlight on the areas in Melbourne that are most impacted by extreme heat, we can amplify the sense of urgency for immediate action.

You can sign the petition for heatwave safe homes for renters to keep in touch with the campaign and future actions. Sign here!

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