Maintenance issues just part of the story at TCHC
A week of Fixer columns on maintenance woes at Toronto
Community Housing only scratches the surface.
Some of the other stories I heard from residents don’t fit
into that category, but speak to the difficulties of life in a public housing
Tenants of 200
Wellesley St. E., whose troubles I wrote about on
Mar. 16, also told me about three drug dealers in apartments on the same floor
and the parade of sketched-out customers in the hallway.
When they don’t get what they want, they’ve been known to
tear baseboard heaters from the floor and pound at the door of their dealer,
screaming threats that eventually turn to pleas.
Others can’t wait to get high and mix up a hit in the
stairwell, sometimes leaving syringes on the stairs. I was ushered into the
stairwell near the apartment of the couple I wrote about, where I spotted the
plunger from a syringe just inside the door.
One of the dealers is apparently not such a bad guy. He
understands that traffic and noise outside his door draws heat, and is known
for putting up signs asking customers to respect his neighbours and keep it
A woman who lives in the same building provided a link to a
blog where she posted photos of mice in her apartment, including one of a trap
she put on a windowsill overnight, with four mice in it.
“We live with at least 30 mice,” she said. “Every day we
sweep up from them at least twice.”
She also posted photos of food in cupboards that had been
torn apart, and blood on containers in her fridge, which the mice are somehow able
to squeeze into.
“I could write a book. A shooting at our door. Drugs dealt
everywhere. Defecating drug addicts.
“If it’s not bugs crawling in your bed, it’s mice, or fire,
or druggies wanting to rob you. Living in housing is horrific and many of us
have no choice.”
An 86-year-old woman developed breathing problems after
mould set into the walls of her apartment due to a water leak above. It got so
bad her doctor told her she had to leave right away.
She moved out for four months while the problem was fixed,
and was told by TCHC that about $2,000 in rent she paid would be refunded. It
wasn’t, and now she has to fight the housing company at the landlord-tenant
tribunal to get it back.
She took us out onto her balcony, where we could look down
onto the roof of the portico above the main entrance. It was covered with
garbage tossed from the balcony above, including soiled diapers, food
containers, even a carpet.
A lot of people still think public housing residents have
it good. Too bad they didn’t have to try it.