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

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