On Saturday 2nd June, Basics community activists organized a meeting of members of the Lawrence Heights community to discuss housing conditions, the City’s proposed “revitalization” of the neighbourhood and organize a response to issues faced by the community.
Since the winter months, Basics activists conducted door-to-door surveys with residents that outlined the unacceptable living conditions and issues brought on by the negligence of the landlord – Toronto Community Housing Corporation.
• 94% of those surveyed said that building conditions in TCHC housing units in Lawrence Heights are average to poor
• 79% said that TCHC responses to requests for maintenance or repairs is average to poor, including delays and long wait times before problems are fixed (if they ever are)
• Over 50% stated that TCHC and security officials do NOT treat people with respect
• 75% said that they have little say in what goes on in the community
The delayed and unmet repairs, disempowerment and disrespect faced by tenants is also at the heart of the issue on the so called “revitalization”. Several residents present at the meeting reported that TCHC representatives told them that no repairs would be done in Lawrence Heights units there is no value in making repairs to an area that will be demolished in the near future through the “revitalization.”
The meeting also addressed the results of the Regent Park “revitalization” which resulted in displacement of the community, a reduction of 400 subsidized units and possible health hazards (construction debris) for the remaining community. For TCHC to continue to try to tell residents that ‘there is no plan’ and that ‘they will be listened to’ in the face of this sort of information shows that they are simply continuing their record of ignoring tenants and putting tenant needs behind the company agenda.
Community members at the meeting heard about examples of successful tenants and residents associations in addressing the issues of the community. Community members agreed to move to organize self directed, independent Residents’ Association that is not affiliated with TCHC.
Only with an independent and united body will TCHC residents be able to make improvements to housing conditions, reduce wait times for repairs, demand accountability to residents during the City’s “revitalization” and address issues that the community faces.