Consultations reveal the truth on affordable housing

Scarborough residents are complaining about rents and poor living conditions in affordable housing.

“I spent four winters with no heating,” Princess Water told a meeting of about 80 people at the Scarborough Village Recreation Centre on Sept.30.

Representatives from local groups including East Scarborough Storefront, Action for Neighbourhood Change and East Scarborough Boys and Girls met to discuss affordable housing issues with MPP Margaret Best and housing minister Mario Sergio.

“Through our partnership with service providers in the Scarborough area we hope that you too can be a part of finding the solutions that are going to work and make things better in terms of housing,” Best said.

But during the session, local residents said there need to be a lot of changes.

“They told me that they wouldn’t be raising my rent because it was already at the cap,” said Kimyata McIntosh, a resident at Morningside and Ellesmere. “But a couple months ago they told me that they will raise it because the net amount of rent has gone up.”

McIntosh, a single mother of three, also said she wonders why it takes so long to qualify for subsidized residences.
“Waiting lists for affordable housing have been a problem forever and I don’t know why they haven’t done anything about it,” McIntosh said.

Another problem raised was lack of communication. Water, who lives on Kingston and Galloway Rds., said residents need easier access to housing offices and workers.  “It feels like they look down on you but they should treat you the same as they treat others.”

She also said subsidized apartments should meet the same standards as other buildings. Maintenance has to make sure that tenants have heating and clean running water.
Other tenants said affordable housing locations should also promote integration.

“The government has to be careful when designating areas for co-op communities,” said Allison Scott of Kingston Rd. “Sometimes they lead to segregation because they’re all concentrated in one bad area.”

Mcintosh pointed out crime rates are usually higher around these neighbourhoods and said she wants to see more recreational centres and green spaces built, so “youth can keep busy with sports and other programs, instead of just hanging out.”

At the end of the meeting Sergio assured residents their concerns were heard and their comments will help deliver better affordable housing.