Toronto Star: Toronto Community Housing units set to close despite residents’ pleas
Posted April 20, 2017
“I’m living here 30 years, this place is what I call home,” tenant Edna Rose said to executive committee.
Posted April 20, 2017
Edna Rose, 76, begged Mayor John Tory’s executive committee Wednesday to spare her home and more than 100 other Toronto Community Housing townhouses deemed to have crumbled past repair.
“I’m living here 30 years, this place is what I call home,” Rose said of her 42-year-old unit on Marsh Grassway near Jane St. and Finch Ave.
“You won’t see one crack in my apartment and my backyard in summer looks beautiful. I planted two fruit trees and I plant tomatoes, peppers, flowers. And they want to tear it down.”
Despite pleas from Rose, tenant advocate group Acorn and former mayor John Sewell not to shutter any housing while TCH has a huge waitlist, executive committee members voted to do just that after TCH advised them structural damage makes repair impractical.
Assurances that she and the many families now living in the buildings around Firgrove Cres. will get help moving to other TCH units was no comfort to Rose, who is a crossing guard.
“If Toronto Housing was maintaining this place, it would be one beautiful place,” she said after the vote. “Where is the (repair) money going? To hell with all of them – God will make a place for me to go.”
City council will have final say over the closure at its meeting later this month.
Tory repeatedly asked Rose if she was aware that TCH intended to repair the units at Firgrove, and had money in hand, until officials discovered the units were “in too bad a state of repair to be fixed.”
And he reiterated his almost daily mantra that the province and federal government must contribute more toward the TCH repair backlog, while the city is investing $250 million this year.
But Sewell, the city’s mayor from 1978 to 1980, blasted Tory and council for having a disgraceful record on social housing.
“This is a major failure of the city’s political leadership,” scolded Sewell, a former Toronto public housing chair.
The Star reported last year the city was backtracking on promises to repair the 134 units after severe structural damage was detected. That means hundreds of residents, who mostly live in family-sized units of three to four bedrooms, will need to be relocated across the city.
Already, 326 units in TCH’s portfolio have been shuttered and more than 7,500 more are at risk of closure if funding for repairs is not secured. Repairs over 10 years total $2.6 billion, a huge tab the city wants to share equally with senior governments.
The federal government recently announced more than $11 billion in dedicated housing funds across the country, but the allocation for Toronto has not yet been determined and little cash is expected to flow in time for 2018 repairs. The province has yet to promise any repair funds despite a loud city hall lobbying effort.
The city will be on track to close one TCH unit per day unless the provincial and federal governments help fund repairs, TCH chief executive Greg Spearn has warned.