Manitoba Housing tenants told to pick up mail in different part of city after mailboxes vandalized
Wilkes Avenue pickup inaccessible to residents with disabilities, tenant of Charleswoood building says
After repeated vandalism to the building's mailboxes, tenants in a Manitoba Housing complex in Winnipeg's Charleswood neighbourhood — many of whom have disabilities — have been told to collect their mail at a post office in a different area of the city.
The mailboxes at the Hendon Avenue complex now need to be replaced, which tenants have been told may take months.
In the meantime, they've been told their mail can be picked up at Canada Post's southwest Winnipeg depot at 1100 Wilkes Ave. — nearly a 90-minute walk from their building, according to Google Maps.
At least a dozen people are affected.
Ashley Preece, 39, has lived in the building for 12 years. She uses a power wheelchair and cannot afford the Transit Plus service necessary to retrieve her mail at the Wilkes post office.
Preece was looking forward to getting holiday cards from friends and family, and was anticipating a Christmas Cheer Board gift card to help cover her food costs.
"People need their mail. It's just a basic need," she said.
"For people like myself, being in a wheelchair, it makes it really hard in the winter to get there. But other people, they also have disabilities, and plus their income is so low, they're not able to afford the bus fare to go out there."
Tenants rely on mail for disability cheques
While Preece receives her disability cheques via direct deposit, she says many of her neighbours don't have bank accounts and need their cheques delivered by mail.
"There's another fellow in here who's not getting his mail and he's also in a power chair like myself," said Preece.
"He is not getting his cheque and now disability expects him to go pick it up all the way downtown. The options are downtown or Wilkes."
She feels her concerns have not been heard or taken seriously.
"I had a friend that was upset about the mail and was talking to the property manager," who made it seem "like she didn't have the right to be upset about this — implying that we're overreacting," said Preece.
Manitoba Housing said later Saturday that the wait is due to supply chain issues, but they are prioritizing the repair at 170 Hendon Ave. and are working with suppliers to try to expedite the process.
They are "communicating with Canada Post to determine whether a closer mail pickup location is available or if other options for residents with mobility challenges might be possible," they said in an email.
Another barrier some of Preece's neighbours face is not having government-issued ID, which is required by Canada Post to collect mail.
In an email response to CBC, Canada Post acknowledged the disruption of service at the address said it is working to resolve the issue.
For those who can't make it to the Wilkes depot or don't have photo ID, "customers can provide a Canada Post letter of permission for someone else to pick up their mail at the depot," the email said.
That might not be an option for some, said Preece.
"Most of us don't have a lot of resources in the community, or family and friends that are able to come out of their way to do that for us," she said.
The mailboxes at Preece's building have been repeatedly damaged in recent months. Manitoba Housing installed security cameras in the lobby in hopes of stopping the vandals. Instead, the cameras were covered by paper and the vandalism continued.
Preece said living in a Manitoba Housing complex is already a high-stress situation, and getting issues resolved is challenging.
"People in here are just tired of fighting the system and not getting anywhere. And, of course, with the pandemic and limited housing options out there, we kind of feel stuck in here."