Toronto housing tenants suffer through cold
Three women who live in a Toronto Community Housing building say their apartments are freezing and they want them fixed.
Kathy Halliday, who has lived at 250 Davenport Rd. for 20 years, says heat has always been a luxury in the building. She says every winter she fights without success to get her heat fixed. She sleeps in a room where the temperature doesn't rise above 10 C during the cold months.
Last spring she was so fed up with her apartment that she posted a note on neighbours' doors that "declared war" on housing and management.
"If you have a problem that has not been dealt with put it in writing and drop it off in my mailbox," the note said.
The note led Heather Kinney to join her in speaking out against the building's condition.
"My first winter here I had to heat my apartment with my oven," Kinney said. "Turn my oven on and open the door, that was how cold it was."
A third woman, Rita Debiasi, said it's too cold to have her grandson stay. "He was shivering," she said.
As a stopgap, community housing has given the tenants block heaters.
"I have to put it in the bathroom," Halliday said. "I close the bathroom door because hitting the toilet first thing in the morning — it's a wake-up call."
City blames old pipes
The city admits there's a big problem, and says it lies in the building's 45-year-old pipes.
"We've been basically doing patch jobs on them to try and keep the system going as well as we could because we don't have the funding for preventative maintenance," said Jeffrey Ferrier, a spokesman for Toronto Community Housing.
Trinity-Spadina Coun. Adam Vaughan said a security concern at the building has also taken priority.
"We had a couple of tenants there who were routinely breaking the locks on doors and making the situation very unsafe for everybody in the building so a lot of money's gone in to trying to fix the security," he said.
The city said it will be four weeks before the heat returns to people's homes.
Toronto Community Housing is the largest social housing provider in Canada, with 164,000 tenants in more than 2,200 apartment buildings.
When Toronto Community Housing Corp. agreed in October to sell 700 buildings, it was said the agency's repair backlog is about $650-million.