Filthy Community Housing building sparks complaints

Some residents of a Toronto Community Housing building are not feeling safe.

Tenants say feces, drug dealers fill stairwell of Sherbourne St. building

The cap of a needle lies in the laundry room of a Toronto Community Housing building on Sherboune Street. Tenants say the building is overrun by drug dealers. (Kimberly Gale/CBC)

Some residents of a Toronto Community Housing (TCH) building are not feeling safe.

Brian Ricciardi has been living at 251 Sherbourne St., located near Dundas Street East, for eight years. He says the apartment is overrun with drug dealers and drug users.

"Every morning I go down the stairwell to get a newspaper and there's feces, needles. There's people smoking crack in the stairwell," he said.

Ricciardi said the stairwell is used as a toilet and that he's been threatened and beaten up. He has called the police, but said that move only angered some neighbours.

CBC cameras spent two days inside the residential complex and recorded broken windows, unsecured doors and a pool of blood.

"Other tenants I spoke with were too scared to go on camera. Many tell me they've applied for safety transfers...but are told the waiting list is too long...or their applications have been lost," said CBC's Kimberly Gale.

Resident Steven Quaglia said he has grown accustomed to the conditions.

"It's basically been a battle between drug dealers, drug users and street people," he explained.

Quaglia said infestations are another problem including bed bugs, roaches and mice.

Another tenant spoke with CBC but declined to give his name, citing safety concerns.

"The level of crack dealing 24 hours a day, the absence of the security guards. When you call housing, they give you attitude and tell you to get a life, stop being a busy body."

TCH released the following statement on Thursday afternoon:

"We recognize that there are issues at the Dan Harrison complex arising from a small proportion of residents and their visitors that engage in criminal activity, making other residents feel unsafe in their own homes."

The statement goes on to call their security efforts quite extensive with third-party security staff patrolling in the evenings and two constables from the TCH community safety unit watching over as well.

"We do begin eviction proceedings against tenants who are engaged in criminal activity or are charged with a crime that took place on TCH property. Since 2011 we have started two eviction proceedings at this location against tenants for criminal activity."

The statement also said a Community Safety Council will be created to enhance safety in the area. TCH is in the progress of working with neighbourhood residents to implement the project.

With files from CBC's Kimberly Gale