Respect for those in community housing

Post by Eric Mang in ,


Social housing needs regular maintenance like any other building

I try to avoid the hate-filled, vile, angry words posted to news websites by some people who cravenly hide ‘neath a juvenile screen name. They hoot and holler and seethe under the cloak of anonymity. Because these pusillanimous twerps shield their true identities, we have some idea of how they act when not being observed (Will Smith in “Seven Pounds” would never donate organs to these miscreants).

I also avoid reading too many messages posted to news websites because they wrongly inspire feelings of loathing and misanthropy towards my fellow human beings (especially the misogynistic and racist missives that follow an article on women or minorities). I say wrongly because I know that most people are good and generous and kind. But it’s the rage-a-holics that find an outlet for their fury on web boards.

In today’s Toronto Star is a horrid story of a woman in community housing left with an apartment saturated with human feces after her drain pipes backed up and flooded her abode. Her calls to the Toronto Community Housing Corporation (TCHC) were rudely dismissed while raw sewage continued to well up into her home.

Hours went by and a plumber finally showed up. Her apartment was cleaned but she had to dispose of some of her daughter’s toys, her daughter’s mattress and a few other items destroyed by a substance that would make even the most steely of us vomit.

Some of the comments posted to the Star’s message board are reprehensible, devoid of any human empathy. But they also show, similar to the TCHC’s response, a profound lack of respect.

This led me to wonder if that disrespect was shown because the woman at the centre of the aforementioned story is from the lower income cohort. Would the same blasé, dismissive reply be given to a Rosedale matron whose mansion was flooded with raw sewage due to a backed up city sewer line? Wouldn’t the city respond with a legion-sized municipal works crew to halt the ooze while the peanut gallery, typically sycophantic towards the wealthy, would be outraged and demand compensation for the matron who could well afford her own clean-up (which would be beside the point if we’re talking about culpability, but you can bet the woman in community housing could ill-afford to discard the infected materials she had to toss)?

A few weeks ago, the CEO of TCHC resigned. In the wake of this announcement, some pundits pondered how to improve the TCHC. One of the suggestions was that the new CEO be required to visit a different community housing complex one day once a week. Good idea. Get to know your clients. But most important is that anyone who works for TCHC treats every client with respect.

In the private sector world, I can leave Telus if I think their service is subpar. What recourse do lower income Torontonians have, especially since this involves the roofs over their heads?


“In the private sector world, I can leave Telus if I think their service is subpar. What recourse do lower income Torontonians have, especially since this involves the roofs over their heads?”

When did it become fact in Canada that one is not responsible for their own shelter? Encouraging the wonderful spirit of generosity Canadians have always displayed is our aim I hope and not promoting entitlement.

Thanks for your excellent reporting.

This situation at Toronto Housing does not get enough press. I saw a W5 report about this billion dollar mess and wonder, where is the public outcry over how people are treated.
Keep up the info on this problem, which this story is a good example of, because the lack of respect and compassion needs to be resolved. Toronto Housing is one of the largest public landlords in Canada and should be setting the standard for the rest of the community. What does it say about us as we tolerate something like this with inaction.

There is plenty of press about TCHC. But where is the reporting on the mess that the province downloaded to municipalities with not even enough money to fix what they handed over, much less keep it running. Obviously there needs to be public outcry about how tenants in social housing are living, but maybe we need to reconsider where that outcry is being directed. A little deepter digging on the part of journalists into the history of affordable housing in Ontario would be a lot more helpful than pointing fingers at TCHC for a massive problem they inherited and have been trying their best to cope with since the province dumped it on them in 2002.

Anon, agree with your comments. The Harris government left cities in dire straits. But my issue is also with TCHC's duty to respect its clients and treat them with care. It doesn't cost anything to be respectful.

Of course, solving infrastructure problems is going to require money.

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