Affordable housing gets a boost in provincial budget

The playground in front of 2180 Ellesmere Rd. has removed years ago and the land remains empty.

Nathan Smith has lived in the Toronto Community Housing unit at 2180 Ellesmere Rd. for 19 years and despite the $100 million included in the recently released provincial budget, he remains sceptical that even the most basic repairs will done on his building.

“I hate to say it, but even though all this new money is promised, I doubt we will see a cent of it here,” said Smith.

Smith cited recurring issues such as problems with heating in the winter, lack of recreation, and maintenance staff that leave the residents to fend for themselves. His major concern is the condition of the elevators that he uses several times a day to get to his seventh floor apartment.

“We’ve had urine in the elevators for years. That’s an ongoing thing. The elevators are nasty,” said Smith. When there is no hot water and the elevators are soaked with urine, Smith and his family are concerned about their health and feel that the city has forgotten about them.

“One whole side of the building had only cold water for three months at one point,” said Smith. “I called about it five days a week and eventually after three months someone started a petition and it got fixed.”

There are 18 affordable housing projects in Scarborough that are east of Markham Road and according to residents like Smith, some of these units have been neglected to the point they are so filthy and dilapidated as to be uninhabitable and residents have been moved out.

Giorgio Mammoliti is Toronto City Councillor for York West and sits on the Affordable Housing Committee which has influence over that happens in Scarborough’s affordable housing. He says that of the $100 million being given to affordable housing in Ontario, Toronto will only receive a slice of the cash.

“If you do some of the number crunching you’ll find that Toronto is going to get about $30 million,” said Mammoliti. He said that money will be put directly into repairs on priority buildings, but is not nearly enough to fix even major problem in some of Toronto’s units.

“We need at least $300 million to fix up every unit so people can live in them,” said Mammoliti. “There are some units out there that are full of mould, and we can’t fix them. We just won’t have the money.”

With the province finally acknowledging the crisis that is hitting affordable housing $100 million certainly helps, but without further action it is likely people like Nathan Smith will have to continue living in terrible conditions.