A 250-unit apartment building operated by Ottawa Community Housing, which houses many low-income, elderly and disabled tenants, has had no hot water since Nov. 30.


Guy Lavigne, 77, is paralysed on his right side. He says the lack of hot water has been hell on earth. (CBC)

"It's been hell on earth. Before Christmas I hadn't washed my hair or taken a shower in a month. Now I can't take a shower again today," said 77-year-old Guy Lavigne, who uses a wheelchair because his right side is paralyzed.

The building at 415 MacLaren St. has had serious problems with an aging boiler, according to the Ottawa Community Housing Corporation. Engineers haven't yet figured out how to fix it.

Tenants attended a meeting Wednesday morning, more than a month after the problem arose, for more information. They received a formal apology with a pizza lunch.

"Because it is an older system, we've had to try to isolate the problem by trying different methodologies," said Jo-Anne Poirier, chief executive of the corporation, at the meeting Wednesday. "We are profusely apologizing to the tenants, I know it's not been pleasant."

The problem was fixed temporarily for a couple of days, residents said, but then the cold water returned.

Lack of hot water not only problem, residents say

But the lack of hot water isn't the only problem, said 18th-floor resident Denise Rodrigue. She moved into the building last month and she's considering looking for a home elsewhere.

"Cockroaches, bed bugs, no hot water, I'm freaking out. I'm freaking out," she said. "I have no other place, I'm on [the Ontario Disability Support Program], I have no money. I'm stuck.

"I hope things are going to work out eventually because there are a lot of people that need the hot water around here because there are handicapped people, there are elderly people … and it's sad to see that they have to go through this," Rodrigue said.

The average age of Ottawa Community Housing buildings is about 40 years.

Poirier said all of them are in need of repairs.