York Region helps Toronto by building new Women's Shelter Belinda's Place

Ever since P.A.C.C. hosted, and then, following the results of the social audit, Behind The Masks, I have fought the idea of the region spending our needed and limited housing, shelter and social services funds on a new women's shelter with transitional housing and "programs". I had argued we already have the more of our shelter beds available to women than men, even though men make up 90% of York Region's "street homeless" and therefore most in need. I further argued as proof the Era Banner reported stats showing women's shelter use down in York Region after the opening of the "family shelter", which should have (and did) take some of the load off the battered women's shelters, and that single men had no transitional housing or centre as women do already. I argued all available resources needed go to permanent affordable housing to help everyone as the women would need affordable homes to move into after the 6 weeks stay anyway- the same max the men get.

At any rate, I take it all back. Yea, I now feel Y.R. needs to take care of Toronto's homeless women overflow, since currently they are apparently being shipped to Sudbury. That's right Sudbury from Toronto was the closest available shelter as relayed to me by a woman who called me from the YWCA there. I guess braggart Rob Ford has been saving his billion dollars by shuffling costs out of town on the backs of vulnerable women?

She mentioned that Toronto's Council self imposed bylaw stipulates all city run shelters, when they run at 90% capacity, must open up more beds - which they apparently have at the ready but don't use unless ordered to by the city. However, as mentioned in the city's council committee meeting, this has not happened over the past year - even though the women's shelters were running at 94% capacity and the men's 95 and 97% and so the now single women, and others I'll deduce, are being been shipped out.

Pretty soon though, thanks to the Region of York's  " Inn From The Cold" single women's shelter side which sits mostly empty as is, Y.R. will inherit Toronto's overflow, as I'm sure the policy is "the closest available single women's emergency shelter". After all, many have community supports I'm sure in close-by Toronto too where they became homeless, needed for their medical and mental health issues like doctors, counsellors, and meds / programs. But, as I understand it, Belinda's Place, our proposed new single women over age 27 shelter (we have "youth" shelters here for single women under 27 who can then stay up to a year) plans to have support programs, so I guess that means the drug rehab / addictions program services and the like. Great, maybe they can find the supports here that are lacking in Toronto.

This person, we'll call her Poetry On TV, also told me about a 'Dream Team' of Paralegals and the like who are making a difference in representing vulnerable tenants by using human rights code violation complaints, highlighting precedence, and pushing draft legislation protections. Cool stuff. Selfishly it seems almost refreshing to hear about others fighting the same issues, and so similarly vocal, yet so far away.

Here is an excerpt from Poetry On TV

November 9 2013 930am, YWCA Sudbury, Ont.

Two nights in my own room, with a locked passage door between me and the single mother on the other side. They're very quiet.  She's balanced in her views and goals for her and her son's lives. She's in Canada because a Sudbury resident decided all Filipino women are 'dumb immigrants' and he can use them as he has women since reaching puberty. His momma didn't know better, but, due to that fact, Canada is now where this intelligent pair live and put their contributions towards.

The woman with the raging son and three daughters were evicted last night. I heard the middle girl, eight-years-old, ask why they had to leave. No answer from the mother: She could not give voice to the fact she is at a total loss on how to deal with the trauma. And, the staff are trained to never comment to her as to what is and isn't appropriate. There remains silence as this three-year-old boy rages in attempts to be reconciled with trauma by having his pain acknowledged. The reconciled state of being occurs when the pain is shared between mother and child, no matter the gender.

Her eldest daughter, at 12 years-old, know this of life, but as a child, still, is powerless to effect the required dynamics to occur to bring about the reconciliation: For the adults to have, ostensibly, put the responsibility of her siblings in her lap is the mark of shame-based behaviour, the unconsciousness of our civilization.....

Beds await you Toronto!
Excerpt from the Dream Team in action, moving on Toronto City Council for enacting illegal bylaws restricting distance between group homes.  Any municipality restricting in this way should now take note.

I just found out from Kathy Laird of the Human Rights Legal Support Centre that the City Planning Department came out with a report last month that is recommending that City Council change the City of Toronto bylaws to remove the separation distances from group homes. If City Council accepts this recommendation, the Dream Team will drop its human rights complaint against the City.

Before the City decides what to do about the separation distances in group homes in the bylaws, it wants to have public consultations. There will be an open house about the City bylaws at Metro Hall in Room 314 on Thursday, November 28th at 4:00pm. I called City Hall to see if there would be any deputations and was told it would only be an open house with no deputations. So, its very informal. More details on the group home consultation in email below.

York Region's Inn From the Cold single women shelter
Here is the Chief Planner's report on group homes:


Amazing how interrelated things so seemingly unrelated can be.

PACC Man Out...Until next time.

Not So Fun Facts -

There are 57 shelters in Toronto for a population of roughly 3 million people and about 3,800 beds. Nine of the shelters are City operated. The city also funds 172 beds that are kept for emergencies.

York Region has roughly 1 million people and 8 shelters with two additional winter shelters. Women are welcome at 8 of the 11 with one for women only to come, as well as new transitional housing for women only.

York Region has 26 full time shelter beds for men - not shelters but beds. Good Night.

Disabled People's Rights discarded in the safety net system

Community Volunteer Award Winner Dan
A buddy called last night. We're going through some similar things, like we both lost our cats recently, our kids are all moved out, and he's going through a break up. The types of things everyone goes through I guess except I can get up in the morning and dress myself - he can't. I lost my cat because it got out, he lost his because he's unable to reach its box alone. He needs help getting into bed too, and dressed, and then he's good to go. Right now he's getting 6 weeks of "emergency" assistance from an organization hired by the government agent C.C.A.C. to do this at night, however they tell him after that he's going to have to move into a care facility or .....

Buddy tells me they've told him C.C.A.C. normally only offers this service at 7pm max for evening bedtime and after 10am for morning assist. They tell him they don't have anyone after 7pm on staff to do it. I asked why don't they hire someone for that time then? He didn't know.

We give awards for free community work but when he needs help?
Prior to this we'd been discussing ways to make money over Xmas as the amount he receives from ODSP now ($800 & change) barely covers his bills - he already has social housing - and leaves him $140 for food, transportation and toiletries for the month. He's thinking of dropping his phone now - like he needs more isolation. He doesn't smoke for those thinking to tell him to quit smoking, and he rarely drinks as he has a heart condition as well. But he likes his independence and the freedom and dignity that goes with it, but, apparently, that's something he/we can't afford to give him.

Our York Region programs don't cover this even though the funds have been downloaded to them for distribution of these very types of services from both Toronto and provincial levels recently.

John Taylor is the Regional Councillor

He's been a community volunteer and friend for ten years now, although he's never been to my house, not that I wouldn't have him but his electronic chair needs a ramp and wider halls, so he always has to host or dine out, which, of course, he can no longer afford to do.

I've watched his kids grow up, and he mine. He was a single dad too at times and we shared a kinship. He was more of a taskmaster with his kids, me too soft. What he couldn't do easily, he nearly always accomplished anyway, alone, and even better with a spouse to do the physical things when he couldn't quite. At one time he walked, and worked hard from a young age, until one day he literally fell over on the job - his disease finally succumbing his legs to the will of the it.

But when you are alone - like he is now - you are really at the mercy of the system, and you can only imagine the feelings he's having now at Xmas, his young kids now young adults still educating and working towards a life in Ottawa and not able to move here as a possible solution...struggling for income for food let alone presents.

Why is it they can't just give us enough to buy food?, he'd asked before he became a single disabled single man.I'm sure that pressure and the removal of their daughter before birth helped end the relationship.

He raised two kids but a third taken a birth because disabled
Now he's asking why they can't just send someone at bedtime to assist him into bed so he doesn't have to lie there from 6 or 7 pm until after 10 am the next day?

Why indeed? Sometimes I wonder if I'm the only one who is appalled by this type of treatment. This is a typical example of how our safety net system fails the rights and needs of the disabled in York Region, Ontario, Canada.

Meantime we're going to make the Xmas wreaths, not knowing whether he'll be here to help sell them or be somewhere..Who knows where? At the mercy of our merciless safety net system.

New York Mayor Elect inspires Poverty Reduction in Canada

Interesting where inspiration on on the fight against poverty comes from at times. Certainly New York City was the last place I'd have thought of, however with the recent voting in of Mayor Bill de Blasio, who unlike Toronto's Rob Ford, ran his winning campaign on closing the gap between the millionaires and everyone else after 24 years of straight Democrat rule (like the Conservatives in Canada), I'm inspired. He not only won, but decisively, with 73% of the vote.

Why is this so inspirational you ask? Because it seems all trends, political or otherwise, always seem to gain traction south of the border before it does here, so if it's becoming trendy or sexy to actually fight the poverty gap, it's bound to happen here next.

Healthy eating in dignity does not mean special food depots
That means all the politicians locally such as York Region Councilors - who recently smugly announced a  budget surplus "because of the cancelling of the Start up anti-homelessness fund"transferred down from the previously distributed from provincial government, M.P.Pfrank.kleesco@pc.ola.org.'s, M.P.'s and the like, who typically leave these issues out of the discussions or announced "plans' during election campaigns, will now have to adjust and embrace the groups working on solutions should they hope to have a chance of winning. This " movement" could indeed fester a political atmosphere just ripe enough to do something concrete about it, and make no mistake it starts with giving people enough money to cover the basics.

When a guy who already has subsidized housing and is bound to a wheelchair with limited use of his hands and limbs says to me,

Food by Deli House Catering. Nothing fresh at food banks.
 "Why do they do this Tom? Why don't they give us enough money to buy food? They have enough money right? They could lift everyone in Canada out of poverty if they wanted to couldn't they?"

Yes they could. Tell them here.

" I'm not kissing anyone's ass just to eat" he continued regarding food banks, 

"Some people can't eat canned food either, what are they supposed to do? These people don't care"


Tom Out.

World Day to end extreme Poverty is Oct 17 in York Region

Oct 17 is International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, and as such, is marked by events around the world to draw attention to, and find solutions to, end poverty.

To me it's a day where you find out who the pretenders are in York Region. The ones who claim to want to help those in poverty, yet don't show up Oct 17 to add their supportive voice to the mix. Some of those are "do-gooders" who can't understand why food banks and free dinners aren't good enough. The dignity part goes over their heads. Some are in in for the money, not the principle, and without poverty, perhaps they don't have a job....and so you have to ask is their motive really about ending it? Fortunately, corporate business charities and nonprofits are made up of people, some of whom do care, and they come even if their agency isn't officially there.

Y.R.'s winter shelters are not open in October
Hopefully the Mayor of Newmarket, Tony Van Bynen, shows up this year. As much as Regional Councillor John Taylor is an eloquent speaker, we like to hope the Mayor also cares enough to come. M.P.'s and M.P.P.'s are also welcome to come listen in and maybe engage, and we're hoping our invitation to Newmarket-Aurora M.P.P. Frank Klees makes good, as a letter asking for support for specific legislation changes to protect vulnerable residents is in the works and to be presented. I've never seen M.P. Julia Munroe attend any year, while all the rest have. She doesn't have to care I guess. Besides, P.M. Harper just pledged to help women and children in foreign countries and that should be enough to keep people happy.Yea, right.

P.A.C.C. hosted a social audit a few years back that looked at poverty from a critical viewpoint. It was the 1st in York Region's history, and critiqued the services and system through the eyes of those experiencing it while issues were raised and discussed / critiqued amongst groups made of politicians and social / agency workers and community leaders. 
Inn From Cold woman's beds sit mostly empty in winter
The audit digested information gathered from sample persons from all sectors of York Region, inclusive across racial lines and sexes, all included in the final report, which was Co-Written by myself Yvonne Kelly and made a number of recommendations. The report was endorsed in principle after a presentation to council and its sat relatively unused since - although the Region did forward it to the Ontario government as representative insight from York Region.

This is unfortunate because such a report and the gleaned info would cost 10's of thousands of dollars normally and since government got it at a bargain, FREE, they could at least use it.

Sits empty, yet building a new shelter
The problem is, it criticizes the status quo and how things are currently run, something that has not been acknowledged nor altered. Men still feel treated poorly at shelters and continue to be low-balled in both access to programs and shelters, whilst the Region ignored the report they endorsed and steamed forward toward building a questionably needed women's shelter - as the Region has 6 already in various forms!

During the campaign to gain interest to build this shelter, the now defunct and paid by the region " Homelessness Alliance of Y.R."  supposedly did a "survey" and found women were homeless, but hidden as couch surfers, and therefore could only give "guesstimate" numbers on that but trust them they exist. These are the "facts" they then used to justify building another women's shelter - while men have but 26 full time beds available to them in a Region of 1.2 million people. Backed by a throng of Belinda Stronach worshipers, including our only newspaper's Editor who chaired the presentation to council and sits on the board, it might as well have been rubber-stamped from the outset especially with all our ties to the Stronach dynasty here. Facts be damned.

We have documented concrete proof  men are living and dying on the streets. 
Now, that's a fact.

At any rate decide for yourself on Oct 17 when the World Premiere of the documentary  "Behind The Masks" shows. This documentary style video contains live testimonials from those within the safety-net system here in rich York Region, Ontario, Canada.

Are we doing a great job like the politicians, papers, charities and agencies tell you in their ads $ & communications? 
On Oct 17, you be the judge.

The movie will premiere during the Oct 17 International Day for the Eradication of Poverty event held at Stellar Hall, 1220 Stellar Dr Newmarket 2nd floor above Stellar Bowl. 

From one of our Y.R. "food distribution programs"
Doors open 7 pm with fresh hot & cold food and refreshments provided. Includes Open Stage and features Headliner entertainment by TPE with reggae rooted The Yappers.
Cover - pay what you will.

Sign up for the event on Facebook here.

Tom out!

The Process of Men Becoming Homeless in York Region

I just fielded a call from a 61 year old man being targeted for eviction because his landlord doesn't like him. He has mental health issues and, as such, had a concerned friend make the initial contact call for him to me as he stood by. It was explained that this landlord, who owns only the one rental property as I understand it, just informed him he wants him out of his $500 per month rental room by Sept 1st. It's already August 21st..so in a matter of days.

I asked him why? On what grounds is he asking him to leave?  And from what I could gather - nothing - other than he just wants him out and "if he didn't get out, He wouldn't believe the shit he would tell the cops he had done". The guy contends he's done nothing but doesn't want the hassles and doesn't know what to do. He doesn't know anyone local and didn't know who to call.

Hmmm.. my thoughts are that the landlord just doesn't want this big 6"1 guy who seems "different" living there and therefore is pushing him out. "Well",  I advised him as he got on the phone with me, "You don't have to leave". And even if he did, he could leave on his terms - when he's had adequate time to get another place.

Seems the landlord had a bit of 'buyers remorse' upon renting to the hulking gentle giant, or something, thinking he can just move people in and out whenever he feels like it because the guy wasn't the perfect fit to his mold...well it doesn't work that way I advised him, and that actually he didn't have to leave at all since his rent was up to date and he's not bothered other tenants or anything, "but if you really want to move still Tell him you'll do him a favour and move out by Oct 1st"..

In the York Region Social audit, Behind The Masks, completed in 2010, we identified major gaping holes in York Region's social net system, including much around inadequate housing, and highlighted an almost lack of supports for men.

Since the time of that audit - which took over 6 months of my life to help produce and considerable amounts of other people's - I've seen no noticeable changes made, and the status quot has continued on as if there was no input from the people at all. When questions were raised about certain programs nothing changed, and the same programs continued along receiving funding with the same proprietors as if they were doing a great job.

The local mainstream media continues to spin the feel good stories about these various organizations who are apparently filling all these wonderful "needs" and promote their fund raisers and 'programs" for their niche clientele - whilst those most in need people who don't fit their mold or are not interested to, fall prey to the other wolves of society  supported by entities like the Era Banner with storylines that create a false impressions like that we had a dire immediate need for another women's shelter .

Meantime men here die on our streets. No stories about them though.

What other type of "business" would ignore the voices of the users of their end products such as housing providers, shelter providers, assist programs and the like do, and get away with it? Would any be in business if it were up to the "clients" and there were more dignified options in place? I doubt it.

Since the time of the audit - which did not call for more women's shelters but did highlight the complete lack of men's beds / programs - Y.R. has allotted 9 million dollars towards building this new women's shelter (we have 7 in various forms already) including also transitional housing, with more proposed to come, attached to the Belinda Stronach Tribute being built currently, and originally slated at $5 million , which will be filled when it opens with women not coming from York Region no doubt. 9 million tax dollars and counting to house out of towners. Great idea! And what of the costs to maintain it? And who decided B.S. should get her name attached to it? and why doesn't she pay the cost of it then?  I mean what possible connection does she have to single "homeless" women without children over 27 - the only possible category left the women can make a shelter for!? Please.

But what do you mean we already have enough women's shelters?..It can't be! The Mayor of Newmarket ran as part of his platform.....that we had none!

As the social audit report noted we have a Y.R. Women's Centre already, single mom programs, young girls programs, mom-preuneurial programs, abused women's shelters in Richmond Hill, Markham, Vaughn, Aurora, and Georgina, shelters for families including single  moms and married moms, single women up to age 26, religion run single women / shelter program (Aurora), and as well both Inn from The Cold and Out from the Cold include beds for all women - and then many of these women move to the top of the affordable housing list which the men are not afforded any comparable opportunity. In fact men have none of the aforementioned programs in York Region and therefore denied opportunities to access many waiting lists of opportunities. Of course there are no Abused Shelters for Men to escape the dangers of the streets to either. This is what can happen to men like that.

If it were any other group they'd be calling it discrimination.

With the rising cost of food and transportation in Y.R. - local transit costs $3.75 vs T.T.C. $3.00 - and the rising trend of "temp" or non-full time jobs, more and more aging men are getting caught in the trap. An aging out of work labourer for example would have a hard time competing for a job at the best of times against an able bodied younger person. As these men age and others strive to get a foothold in life, we cannot afford all our limited Y.R. social services resources to be spent in one area - and clearly with only 26 full time beds for men in York Region who make up 90% of our homeless here, something's out of wack.

Do we want that here? I hope not. Thank goodness I fielded that call from that senior tenant otherwise he'd of gone like a sheep to the street and become a statistic, not knowing his rights, and without likely a shelter bed since Y.R. has so few for guys like him, especially this time of year with but one shelter.  

But what about the others?

I'm certainly not saying we should ignore our women and children but clearly we're not. We don't mind our men going to war and dying in disproportionate numbers for this country, we can at least give them some support. Stop ignoring the reality York Region, and pandering to the whims of some connected vocal committees with influential backers, and start building what's actually needed

affordable, single unit housing.

Ontario Government Poverty Reduction efforts a complete failure

Ontario Government proposes more Poverty Reduction consultations but community groups say enough already - Time For Action!

Mcquinty will be known as the Food Bank Premier
Five years ago the Ontario’s Liberal Government announced a Poverty Reduction Strategy yet hundreds of thousands of people still don’t have enough money to pay their rent and buy adequate nourishment. Food bank usage in Ontario is at record levels – rising from 374,000 people per month in 2008 to 413,000 in 2012, including 160,000 children.

It's no wonder a guy said to me the other day that he's going to have to shoplift in order to eat. He's 55 he explained and can't seem to get a job dish-washing,  so meantime he's been able to get a room with the assistance of welfare. His room costs $500 per month which leaves less than $100 more to pay for food, transportation, clothing, phone and toiletries which cannot be done at today's rates, so you eliminate things one at a time like bus fare and food money. Of course, he's expected to search out work regardless of circumstances or risk being cut off, and his 55 year old body is not like the teenagers they now hire for jobs he once got. Shoplifting will be only the tip of the iceberg as more and more people are unable to afford food or accommodations.

Despite holding multiple consultations about poverty reduction and social assistance reform which P.A.C.C. members were York Region's only grassroots participants, the Liberal Government has consistently ignored thousands of community members:

In the spring and summer of 2008, more than 75 community consultations on poverty reduction were held across Ontario, including 44 with MPPs.Community representatives consistently delivered the message that livableincomes and a minimum wage to raise a full-time, full-year worker out of poverty were critical to poverty reduction. The Liberal Government of Premier McGuinty ignored this input.

In late 2008, people in communities across Ontario urged the government to set a target for poverty reduction in general – not just child poverty. Children live in families, they pointed out, and reducing overall poverty will inevitably help children. This message was ignored, and the government’s target of lifting 90,000 children out of poverty is short by 49,000 as of 2011.
In 2011 and 2012, four out of five community briefs to the Commission on Social Assistance Reform argued that adequate social assistance rates was a primary issue. The final report of Commissioners Frances Lankin and Munir Sheikh recommended an immediate rate increase of $100/month. The Liberal government of Premier Wynne was deaf to its own commissioners as the 2013 budget increased social assistance to recipients of Ontario Works benefits by only $14/month!  

Dalton McGuinty’s last act as Premier was to cut the Community Start-Up and Maintenance Benefit, which further worsened the destitution of Ontario’s most vulnerable.This benefit has been used for years to assist people with first and last months rent or moving expenses in order to obtain or maintain a home. Low incomers otherwise cannot save these required amounts otherwise without this anti-homelessness benefit.

Now, after five years of the Liberal Government failing to deliver on social assistance reform,

it lacks credibility to call for more consultation in the absence of action on what the community has recommended to date. We believe Premier Wynne needs no further consultation to reduce poverty in Ontario. The Liberal government can respond now to the core demands that people from communities across Ontario have been making for five years. PFO participation in any consultations on a new poverty reduction strategy will be to assert three core demands.

PFO a partner in poverty reduction demands;

Premier Wynne's government can reduce poverty and demonstrate her commitment to social justice by acting on the following:
1.    Raise the rates
·        Immediately increase the base rate of social assistance by $100 a month without paying for it by cutting other benefits.
·        Restore the Community Start-Up and Maintenance Benefit.
2.    Protect  the well-being of people with disabilities
    Discuss the Commission on Social Assistance Reform recommendations regarding ODSP with community advocacy groups representing people with disabilities.
3.    Reduce poverty for everyone
·        Raise the minimum wage now to 10% above the poverty line.
·        Set targets that reduce and eventually end poverty for everyone – children, families and communities.
Commitment to Social Justice
We are committed to social justice for people in Ontario who live in poverty. We will not stop until poverty is ended.
A social justice strategy to end poverty requires providing people with enough money for food, housing and everything else that ensures a life of health and dignity.
It is time for Premier Wynne to demonstrate her commitment to social justice with constructive social and economic policies. She can begin by acting on our three demands.

Here's some related links that will inform you.

Newmarket Ont Slumlord lives cozy in Calgary

In a previous blog I'd touched on a few things, and I'd like to expand on something here today.


At some point, I'd referred to "Slum Lords" when speaking of the notion of so-called "second suites", mentioned often erroneously as one "alternative solution" to alleviate the affordable housing issue, to which I'd replied nonsense as people living on low income still couldn't handle the costs...and then I'd mentioned "slumlords".
I got to see a "slumlord" in action. A slumlord, per say, does not have to be in any particular "type" of neighbourhood as they could own a home in a "respectable one" and still rent to whoever they wish, all the while allowing for disarray through non conformity of bylaws, landlord and tenant laws and by performing the most minimal amount of repairs and maintenance. Or duck paying contractors and such to the point that that the unit only attracts certain tenants. That's a slumlord. Someone who would order mold painted over instead of removed if they could.

Luckily we at least likely saved some new tenants from that. I'll explain.

I came across the owner of a house looking for someone to act as agent or property manager while doing some minor repairs, as well as meeting with and signing up prospective tenants, as they were an absent out-of-province-landlord. It seemed like a good opportunity - not lucrative but you would collect a percentage monthly thereafter once set with residents. First there was also a matter to coordinate minor maintenance such as removal of garbage, a boat, and supervise a fridge being replaced. I told  my new "partner" I'd help her with anything need be, and away we went! At first glance it reminded me of when I grew up, as the house was built in the same era with a typical style as our neighbourhood. Likely even the same builders. Sigh. The memory lane trip was short lived.

The first red flag was the previous property manager showing up claiming he'd never been paid, then rumours that the contractors had been stiffed surfaced, and the neighbour next door shared some doozies like the house had previously had everything from prostitution running from it, to dug dealers to...... You get the drift, our little paradise extra money job was turning into a nightmare. Still, we're of the mold that when doing a job it should be done right, and since we'd started decided to play it out a bit more. Besides, there was an opportunity to place someone here that may not otherwise be qualified to and we could make it pretty nice. My companion warned at that point we likely wouldn't see any money, but we'd decided to play it out anyway for awhile hoping beyond hope that decency would prevail.

We worked like dogs every spare moment we had - she often between teaching classes - like in a courtroom, she  gave no less than the best effort and expected the same from those around her. We knew sprucing the place up was needed as well to get good tenants in addition to making the lawn sign asked of and borrowed the neighbour's mower to groom the lawn. Nice guy too, an electrical engineer, who gave me the low-down whilst showing me his granite stone chip lawn. Yawn.

A big obstacle was the ever-present stench of smoke that seemed always present in the upstairs portion of the two apartment house from previous tenants along with the disgusting bathrooms and the 1970's built cheapest style, brown fake wood cupboards which hindered the renting of it to respectable tenants. Then came the visit from the Newmarket Bylaws Officer alongside the Fire Inspector, both of which had to sign off before anyone could even live there! Oops someone forgot to tell us that part! More pressure.

As the F.I. checked electrical work that had been ordered done and tested the smoke and Co2 detectors,  the Bylaw Officer inspected and passed the interior window frames that had prior been ordered redone and for mold removal - showing me the before pics - and then also showed pics of how tobacco stained the walls were underneath the new paint. It struck me then that had the painters been allowed / told to use a special primer paint that soaks up tobacco odours, the place'd move quicker certainly. But still, the kitchen floors and bathroom were filthy also and someone still had to clean them.... gulp...and then there was the downstairs unit to ready and rent out with people coming to look already, Lisa already having feverishly and personally cleaned the floors down there to ensure success! The Inspector had pictures as well of the boat outside and of the garbage we'd already removed by then - but this was the first we'd known it had been ordered removed!  Also ordered done and still on her list were brick work that was sinking at the
entrance of the house, doorway trim was to be painted, and as well the yards cut and groomed.

Meantime this absent landlord who lives in Calgary who still hadn't paid us a penny was instructing from afar and trying to get my friend paralegal to arrange with contractors etc but she's too smart for that.

"I'm not putting my name on anything as part of hiring anyone for this place" she said incredulously, " Does she think I was born yesterday?" adding, " She could then just say I hired people without her authorization if unpaid workers ever sued for payment. No, I can't do that to people in good conscience. I'll fulfill the obligation I feel I have now to the couple looking to move in downstairs, but beyond that we'll see."

Meantime I cut the lawn front and back, and decided the brick work was minor enough that I could do it myself, and Lisa and I purchased more supplies and some special flooring cleaner to try and salvage the floor tiling in the upstairs kitchen and bathroom after some great advice from a bathrooms place guy who'd come in for a quote, which we hadn't a hope in hell of getting we were realizing by then from the absent landlord.

As I was working fixing the brickwork late into the evening one night, a loud and fairly unhappy individual dropped by to get her mail. Apparently, as I'm sure the entire neighbourhood including the just moving in downstairs neighbours heard, she wasn't happy, and loudly wished the place good riddance, often and loudly! She fired question after question at me which I deflected, as I began to suspect she may have some alcohol issues going on.

" What was she saying?!" a panicked mother of one of the two moving in downstairs asked me excitedly as I downplayed it by offering I didn't deal with drunks, but deep down at that point I felt this absentee landlord - despite how belligerent this woman who dropped by was - was also not on the level. And now we were caught between a rock and a hard place.

Tiles had to be soaked and scrubbed
We continued to try and extract even a token payment from the Calgary living landlord, as more and more confirming information such as a track record of not paying and code violations etc began to surface, including actions taken against her. Gulp. Almost time to cut our losses. Meantime we had continued due diligence to fulfill any conceived contractual obligations ( my firend had amended the original and returned it signed to the property owner) to show and rent the property despite discovering the extra work still needing done before it could even be occupied - part of her amendments to procedure removing her as 'care-taker" of this obligation, and directing that parties were to deal with the owner directly regarding hiring (for cleaning and construction or bathroom work) - as well as removing no pets clauses which are not allowed in Ontario.

Dream home job a Nightmare
Meantime my partner on this met with prospective tenants, workmen, and inspectors whenever she could, while I filled in when she couldn't be there and made minor repairs upon request for the new downstairs tenants who were otherwise happy. I scrubbed the upstairs bathtub, finished the brickwork, cleaned out the overflowing eaves troughs, trimmed the bushes and cut the lawn front and back, removed all garbage - including a dresser and a fridge by hand alone.

At one point the now happy mom from the downstairs couple noticed the brickwork done and asked incredulously,  

" Did you just do all that work?", " Shouldn't they be hiring someone to do that? ", " Is that her in there cleaning floors?"

It was too as my partner in this mess had soaked the floors with a special cleaning de-greaser suggested by bathrooms guy and was commencing to scrub it before removing it with rags.

All I could say was "when we do something we do it right and regardless of this woman we wanted to make it as nice as we could...and who knows...maybe she'll miraculously pay us something..." my voice trailed off as I had no conviction in that. But still, I had enjoyed the experience to a degree and it was nice fixing up a place. Just a freakin' shame...

Bathroom floors atrocious
That was about where we left it. After a number of more attempts to extract any type of payment from the lady in question, in addition to the continuing assertion that she had never paid any of her previous ( apparently growing list) of property managers, we reluctantly bid the place adieu.

Too bad really, with just a small amount of work - like proper tobacco stain removal products, new windows, a bathroom wall stall covering and kitchen cabinets, the place could be rented out to good responsible tenants proud to call it home, and very easy to manage at that point and with a little higher rent too than it could have commanded as was...and thus still "affordable" but in a nice neighbourhood.

It's just too bad some people are too stupid too realize this.

Meantime, this woman continues to victimize vulnerable people and businesses from afar without a worry. By operating her scam from outside the province it appears for now she can...but stay tuned...

stained floor and 70's cheap wood cabinets
Who knows? Maybe a greater purpose is at work as from all this has come an idea, through discussions about the need for drafting legislation to protect vulnerable seniors and others from eviction - now hopefully with the help of an M.PP..

Paccman Out

York Region, Canada's worst provider of Private Rental Housing

Recently, there has been a spate of articles written in the YRMG on the subject of poverty, homelessness and housing by various writers. It never ceases to amaze me how they spin things at times and write stories - at least locally - that don't include much critical input and often pander to the "help" organizations and not the actual affected people - like many PACC members.

This street is owned on one side, rented on the other, tell which?
The article I was quoted in, however, was fairly accurate and surprisingly enough, mentioned some controversial subjects I didn't think they would frankly. Sometimes I just throw things out there to see what sticks and I guess this did - that being the fact that a neighbourhood park with nearby kids banned from using it because they are not technically from that neighborhood - yet some live on the same street!

The side by side neighbours have a unique set up with one side of the street owned houses and the other side rentals with mixed income and some low income units thereby creating a real diverse mix of residents - except only one side of that street can use the good kids park. I guess the association doesn't embrace diversity. Does this policy encourage friendship and camaraderie between the two side by side hoods that one has to look hard to distinguish between, despite what one person quoted as a "leader" in local poverty work ( I read the quote but couldn't find it so his name shall remain out for now) said about renters not having "ownership pride" in keeping their properties (in one of the recent columns)? Biased attitudes like this that feed the stereotype of low income or renting residents are likely part of the reason we have so little rentals in York Region - 12% of all our housing stock according to the article (actually 11.7%) which is the lowest ratio in CANADA - not highlighted in the article while availability sits around 1%.
Kids from Mulock Village live on this street but cannot play here

In one column the writer quotes a Y.R. Habitat for Humanity Director as a local expert on housing needs - having been in the job a few months - and they of course used the opportunity to promote themselves as a viable builder of affordable housing, yet the American based franchise boasts on their website of having more assets than
This empty space once housed a park for M.V. kids on same street
and has built 0 houses in Newmarket in a number of years despite paying out millions in operational costs" last year for the Y.R. Habitat for Humanity Re-Store. To even be lucky enough to be chosen for one of their homes, you seemingly must often first be a visible minority or have come here from another country, as well you also must agree to become a face for them to the public to tell the world how wonderful they are. These are degrading and esteem killing conditions and you cannot sell your home either should you ever wish to move.

They also label the residents they place in homes as 'hardworking", as if anyone else caught in the trap of poverty may not be, which helps perpetuate the myth of some poor being more deserving than others. It also divides not unites people. A person with an illness for example that does not enable them to do labor does not mean they should be labelled as "not hard working" or lazy, nor someone unemployed. These private owned corporate charities should not be quoted within serious discussions of providing affordable housing as they only confuse the issue and do very little actual building anyway.
                     kids must play on the streets when no playground allowed as in above video

2nd suites being shopped as a "solution" also are not "affordable housing" either as they average over $1200 per month in York Region, whereas a single person on low income cannot afford this. The problem is the region 's official definition of' "affordable housing" does not comply with the reality for those on low income as they cannot afford this 'affordable" solution - not to mention they are unsafe - especially if operated by a "slumlord".

The Star actually reported that more private developers in Toronto are adding condos to the affordable housing mix via proposals, which P.A.C.C. has tried to do here as well for years having brought a group in on Oct 17, Int Day for the Eradication of Poverty to speak on the very subject. One politician, Newmarket Regional Councillor John Taylor showed up. Newmarket's Mayor Tony Van Bynen was no where to be found nor any other regional or town councilors or mayors who all seem to take their directional cues from the Region which in turn is getting its direction from the provincial and federal governments and not its residents. But this is what we get when buying into the Russia originated, relatively new to N.A.'s, regional government model - decisions about what we do made centrally, such as building up (people density), water, access to green areas(through "protectionism") and adding transit lines we don't need or didn't ask for while be assured we need it..

More and more decisions affecting our towns are made by  governing bodies not even living in the areas affected.

Mildred, 93, lost her housing and lives in limbo ever since
Speaking of the Toronto Star, the media outlet reported that seniors had been evicted at an alarming rate and that Toronto Community Housing Corp had not been using it as a last means as mandated, but rather as a way to open up some spots.

I know a fair bit about how they operated, through knowing a former TCHC contracted paralegal whose job was to evict delinquent and difficult tenants and set-up arrears collections and who was contracted there during the time in question examined by the Toronto Ombudsman. Although the person did not come out and say it to me, I got the feeling she was pressured to back off evicting gang members (mostly minorities), by encouraging the entry of incomplete paperwork knowing it could then result in the case being tossed and concentrate on others, for which the paralegal felt conflicted. This conflict lead to them eventually leaving. So in essence T.C.H.C. was asking them to illegally file - knowing the info was not complete.

Perhaps by OUTSOURCING paralegal work the city could make substantial inroads, save $ thousands in wasted court costs. and save lives.

A Newmarket Paralegal who has represented some of Canada's largest landlords including T.C.H.C., was quoted in the York Region Media Group article as saying, "Gang members must be housed somewhere", referring to the dilemma Housing Authorities have when dealing with them as residents, yet time and again innocent residents are corrupted by such practices and denied their right to live in peace. There are no easy solutions, but one thing is for sure, more youth and education opportunities need be entered into the mix because these kids - and I mean under 10 - exposed to guns and violent ways will come to think it's the "norm" which it is not. This all being said, York Region Housing's stock is not full of gangs or modeled like Toronto's although many, if not most of its residents, somehow come from Toronto or elsewhere and not from York Region - and again this is a regional system dilemma.

The Paralegal also suggested to me that there needs to be legislation put in place to protect seniors and others from housing authority evictions, because Housing Tribunals supersede Landlord and Tenant Board decisions and allow for the delivery of C-4 notices (eviction) to be served based on allegations only - whereas the L&T Board requires more tangible proof before evicting.
For example someone accused of having another person not on their lease living at their residence can currently be evicted based on just that - an allegation - which is exactly what happened to this senior.

When a senior wedged in our system tells me she wished she'd just hurry up and die, I'm pretty sure we're doing something wrong. She can't watch t.v. since her hearing device went missing shortly after being moved into the Newmarket long term care located centre, and her eyes are bad so reading is tough, and the food is lousy she says. She's dying of boredom perhaps although they suspect cancer now too.

" It's worse than being in the joint Tom" the once feisty 93 year old told me.

Until Next time.

Tom out