Ivan has been an advocate for tenants and unhoused people in Kingston for years. Along with other election candidates supporting the People's Platform for Kingston, Ivan has spent countless hours volunteering with the Katarokwi Union of Tenants (KUT), helping tenants and unhoused people access food, clothing, shelter, and pest control. He is a dedicated housing advocate and understands that economic realities, such as rising interests rates, mean that lower income homeowners are also at risk of losing their homes. The housing crisis is diverse and Ivan will bring his dedication, his first-hand experience, and compassion to the Mayoral position to ensure everyone has safe, dignified, and adequate housing.
CFRC Interview with IvanIvan Stoiljkovic
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Ivan Stoiljkovic has lived as a tenant in Kingston for 20 years and he has spent most of those years actively trying to help other tenants navigate the very tough housing situation. In fact, this concern about people's housing situation is the main reason he wants to become Mayor of Kingston.
He spent the first decade of our century mostly focusing on fighting back against the Provincial government's austerity regime that saw Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) and Ontario Works (OW) rates frozen and rents going up. As President of the Kingston Coalition Against Poverty (KCAP), he organized protests and rallies and advised countless tenants and poor people on how to deal with their individual bad landlords or case workers who have, through the 1990s, transitioned from being helpers of the unemployed and unemployable to guardians of the gates of survival. He found himself on OW briefly and was cut off on a technicality in the middle of winter without having winter boots or a place to call a home. It was only his relative privilege - education, skills, marketing skills and relative sobriety - that pulled him through this difficult time. Many who were not as lucky as him, who didn't grow up in a stable home with loving parents and had the benefit of higher education, have fallen through the cracks, been kicked off the benefits, become homeless and, in many cases, died.
KCAP has mainly tried to address the housing, hunger, addictions and homelessness crisis by pushing the provincial government to raise the rates of ODSP and OW and helping people access special programs and well-hidden funding sources that are legally available to those on government assistance programs. One of the tools they used to achieve these goals was organizing mass ‘special diet clinics’ whereby they signed ODSP/OW recipients to this special program en masse in order to help them access a few extra dollars to help them survive on. Money, they quickly realized, is not enough. Aside from all these programs and special funds not amounting to much, the cost of housing has skyrocketed and more than made up for any money they could help people access. The complex issues people face - disabilities, disease, mental health issues and addictions - most of them brought on by poverty - have shown us that money is not enough. People who don’t know how to manage money or have addictions end up hungry and homeless. This is why Ivan turned towards looking into how governments can provide services to people, like housing, food and health-care to supplement their meager incomes.
Municipal Government and Housing
In the last decade, Ivan turned his attention to the Municipal government as he realized that most of the housing development and policy is the purview of this level of government. It is at the Municipal level that decisions are made about what kind of housing is built and how it is maintained. It is, finally, the municipal government which decides whether or not social, public, rent-geared-to-income (RGI) housing is built or not. Unfortunately, the answer in Kingston (and in most other municipalities) is a resounding “no” to GRI housing. All evidence suggests that aiding and abetting private interests in taking charge of housing solutions will and does lead to inflated rents and real estate prices and the rise in homelessness and housing precarity. But our City has continued to bend over backwards to the wishes of the Mayor’s campaign donors, and fast-track their applications under the pretext that they increase all kinds of housing availability (which is a code word for ‘privately-owned and for-profit’) and will make housing more affordable. This is simply not true and Ivan has worked to dispel these myths through is work as the General Secretary of Katarokwi Union of Tenants (KUT). People are no longer fooled by Orwellian rhetoric whereby “affordable”, as used by municipal politicians, really means unaffordable (as it is literally defined as 80% of market rent by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation). Nor are people oblivious to the fact that the public servants, the Mayor first among them, are only looking out for the interests of large landlords and developers, and that those interests are in fact diametrically opposed to the interests of tenants.
The housing and homelessness crisis which, according to the current Mayor himself, is the most important issue for 9 out of 10 Kingstonians in this election, has been manufactured by polices of all three levels of government over the last 30 years, ever since they all decided to get out of the business of housing and leave it to 'the market'. 'The Market' is really a code word for private interests, for for-profit corporations, and for capitalists. 'The market forces', of course, with all the help they could get from friendly politicians whom they are funding (just take a look at the list of Mayor Paterson's donors from 2018 and you'll see a who's who of Kingston's real estate and development oligarchs), did their thing - they developed and capitalized an incredible amount of housing, growing their monopolies into financialized real estate empires and gouging tenants as far as they could go. They've gotten obscenely wealthy, while the rents have gone up, property standards have come down and, given the lack of government-provided social housing, housing insecurity and homelessness have skyrocketed.
Ivan’s Priorities on Housing
As Mayor of Kingston, Ivan's first priority will be to house all our homeless people and then to clear out the social housing registry list. He will do this by immediately providing 500 social, public rent-geared-to-income housing units to house all our homeless and another 1500 within a year of taking office to house everyone currently on the waiting list. Beyond that he intends to bring government back into the housing business by expanding and democratizing the Kingston Frontenac Housing Corporation and turning it into a corporation that fights for more social, public RGI housing and that is a partner with large developers and landlords in providing the types of housing (RGI) that people need in order not to have to spend their food and medicine money on housing.
He also plans to drastically expand the property standards department, open a public maintenance department and change the existing bylaws which allow landlords (both public and private) to neglect their units and which has led to the pest infestations of many of our housing stock, and the ability of landlords to not have to address them. Neglectful bad landlords will be punished severely and their property will be expropriated. No one in Kingston will live with pests.
Education and Additional Experience
Ivan holds a Master of Arts Degree in History from Queen’s University. His MA thesis was on how two pro-capitalist economists, John Maynard Keynes and Joseph Alois Schumpeter, responded to the revolutionary situation in Europe in the second and third decades of the 20th century. While at Queen's he led two campaigns to unionize Teaching Assistants. Ivan has two part-time jobs: one as a Kingston City Bus driver which allows him to fulfill his passion for driving and serving the public, and another as a violin teacher which allows him to entertain his passion for music and teaching. He has one adult daughter who also lives in Kingston.