Life Stories of Displacement Quotes

Affordable and Accessible Housing - The Only Choice 1/4

Low Rental Housing and its DisappearanceCedar Hill

Renovictions

I’ve seen a lot of our people that had big buildings that they turn them into apartments to people that had welfare and give them a cheap place to live, and they got altogether booted out because they renovated the place and moved people in,... and they’re high-class people. And they build them up just looking real modern and everything.

Like I said, my neighbours' houses have turned into rental properties and as others on the street, … Actually, it happened to the friend of mine who's in the hospital. The house he lives in across town, the landlords decided to kick him and his roommate out, upgrade the house and sell it. But he just said, okay I need to cash in so you guys go, I'm going to do some renovations and then well, rent it out for a higher price. So he's kicked those guys out.

You saw with the garbage can, it was always being emptied, emptied, emptied and then it stopped being emptied and garbage on the side. And then they tore up the rugs in the hallway without even sweeping or vacuuming it. Stuff like that. It’s like, “Uh huh, what are these guys doing?” And then I walk out, “When are you moving out?” How is that any of your business? 

It took about two years for them to buy it, they were in and out all the time. Seven people, different people own that building. And one guy told me that, “Oh, that’s a slum lord right there.” Well, if she’s a slum lord, why is he building something nice? 

 

Eviction of Legacy Tenants 

So we had to stand by and watch people walk through our apartments, our homes and you know, assess the value of it and mark it down and all that sort of stuff as we’re sitting there like this is our home. Like it is our home that will be taken from us. So that’s kind of where we’re at now. Right now that company’s in the process of getting the property or the plans approved so nothing’s happened yet. They haven’t tried to kick us out early. So we’re really left kind of wondering, planning what’s next, but the biggest fear is since I’ve been there for almost ten years my rent has been kept at a reasonable level and I can manage it.

I was there the second longest. Ian, upstairs been there for almost 30 years. I’m 12, Mary across is 11 and a half. Fred is 11 and a half. Francisco has been there longer than me… Okay. The rent is due on the 1st. They’ll wait until like the 28th to cash it on that month. They won’t cash it right away. So people are in there thinking their money is out already and they pull money out and they get NSF cheques. It’s like, “How come this has bounced? My money was in there.” That’s why people got the N4s or whatever. 

Well, we heard through the grapevine too that they’re going to renovate and they’re going to try to get us out of here. And I looked at it, no, they just can’t force you out like that unless the person or their family moves in and say, “Yeah, this is my mom, she can move in.” You can do that. That’s the messed-up law too. There’s no safety for the small man or person I should say. 

 

Forced Downsizing

But if I can’t get a job that pays that much then I’d have to downsize or start thinking about moving out of the city because it’s really hard to kind of … to be forced to downsize. Some people choose to downsize but to be forced to downsize is really difficult to start going through all your possessions and starting to think okay, which ones am I going to sacrifice, which ones are going to get boxed up and maybe never seen again or which am I just going to have to donate or throw in the garbage.

Fear of Displacement

And again, that’s why I’ve never taken where I live for granted because I’ve been in lots of situations before, especially when I was living in poverty, where every month your stomach is in knots because you don’t know – if anything goes wrong then you won’t have enough money for rent. 

 

Housing Market for the Desperate 

Boardinghouses

So it's, uh, you know, it's, it's not where I hope to be when I, when I was younger it would be 70. This is where I am living in a one room, boarding house with 12 other, the people. This is not what I hope my retirement would be like, you know, but, but it's uh, you know, it's just the way things are and you know, you say, well, I'm a lot luckier than a lot of other guys out there that have no place to go and you know, just can't sleep in the street. And so I'm grateful that way. I don’t want to sound like I'm not, because I am, I am.

 

Slum lords

And then just on that same block, there's one owned by somebody else well-known in the area. He's definitely a slum lord and that was a slummy place. My friend and his wife lived there, and they were just having a baby. And yeah, the place burned. Children's Services I guess stepped in, and because of fire, people called them. And yeah, they were told they cannot live in that place. Something of that sort because there’s just this widening gap as to the type of housing that you can move in. Either you move into what’s considered affordable and put up with the fact that there might not be hot water every now and then or the elevators in the building won’t work… 

 

Illegal Rentals

And this guy here, I went to look at an apartment when I was looking at apartments. And this is going back quite a ways, about 10 years. And he had… He was showing me this room, and this room was disgusting. It was a room with no windows. It had a skylight, a little skylight. And I thought, "If there's a fire, I can't fit my bum through that." You know, and besides that, how am I going to get up there and reach that? And it was terrible, but he wanted 100 dollars a week? I think it was 100 dollars a week. You could pay weekly. And I came out thinking, "Okay, I might have to take this, because I've got no other option right now.

 

And the availability again, I hear on any given day like people are talking about these home owners renting out closets for like $500 a month, that’s just an expression but they may as well be closets. 

 

Infestation 

Well, the one on Queen Street that I'm talking about, I left there because they had bed bugs. So I slept in my Santa Fe many, many nights over by the Stirling. 

I was helping him look for a room. And we went to this one rooming house. Oh my God, I thought a bomb exploded in it. Honest. It was disgusting, just disgusting. The place that he was at got cockroaches. 

 

Drug Trafficking/Prostitution

The last rooming house I was in was really bad. It was a crack house and it was just nuts. The police finally closed the place down. ...We were on King Street. There used to be a Coffee Time™ donut shop there on King Street and that was a hangout for prostitutes. So what they would do, they would turn their tricks there and then they’d go up to the house where I was living it. And there was a dealer there selling crack so they’d make $20.00 or whatever, they’d go there, buy their crack, smoke it. So there was people wandering through the house at all hours of the day and night. It was just nuts.

 

Inadequate Property Standards Enforcement

Oh well, I went to Horner and that place was full of bedbugs, so that lasted about a year. Then I went to Urban, that place was full of bedbugs. That lasted about a year and now I'm looking again, so. Oh, it's terrible right now, right, because there's nothing out there. And, you've got to be very leery, because most of the landlords, they don't care. They just want their money and, "Oh, we'll clean up, maybe," things like that. And, oh, you've got bedbugs, "It's not my problem," right. And the city says that too. Like the city is not taking any responsibility for landlords having bedbugs, so. It's kind of really a shame, because, they're quite rampant. I mean, you got to throw your furniture out and buy new furniture and a couple weeks, a couple months later, you're doing the same thing. So, it's not fun. Even in, when you get to that tribunal thing, because, they don't care, right. 

It’s Waterloo. It was on Laurel Street and it was pretty sketchy. There’s a lot of drugs going on and stuff like that. I think that’s one of the reasons I qualified for this housing subsidy because of the way it was. At one point in time, I had no running water, no heat and we went to tribunal, rental tribunal and we tried to fight them. They were going to give me three months’ worth of [abatement] but because I’m on disability, it would have just went right back to disability. 

 

When Your Run Out of Options

Waitlists

It’s frustrating, very frustrating. And even when it’s right in front of your face, it’s very frustrating. Like I was born and raised in the city, you can’t do a damn thing for me? And then 285, that’s for the—I always call it Ontario Housing, they go, “How come you weren’t on a list?” “Because I didn’t think I needed to be on a list because I had my own apartment for 12 years.” “Well, you should have went on a list.” “Isn’t that taking from somebody else, right? Like I don’t need it, why take it from somebody else?” “Well, just in case. See, you probably would have had one today.” Well, who thinks like that? Think negative before you get positive. So I went over there, they put me on a list and then I asked, families go ahead of me and then the immigrants come ahead of me too. Yup. I didn’t like that one because I’m a Canadian citizen, I’m being pushed aside. Then they said, “Oh, you’re going to be 55 soon.” They said, “Well, now you only have to wait four years and we can probably get you one in three years.” Okay, but what does that do for me now? 

 

Living in Shelters

Yeah, it’s different moving from a house to living in housing because you have all these rules and regulations, where in your own home you get to do what you want. You know what I mean, you don’t get to pick your neighbours or … yeah.

It’s becoming bigger because people that are sleeping outside of shelters, like not wanting to live in an emergency shelter like because you have rules, you know, and all that; where if you’re living out on the land you have no one to answer to, right, and they just don’t want to be part of the system, right.

And then I have to move into this government housing that has laws that I don’t want. I want my freedom. I want to have a cigarette in my house probably or I want to have a beer in my house. I’m not quitting drinking, I like my booze. I only drink beer and have company over. They said, “Well, you can’t have company after 10 o’clock.” That kind of stuff is like okay, I’m grade 5 again or something? If you don’t follow it, you’re kicked out. They don’t fool around.

 

Homelessness

People are couch surfing, people are sharing with other people; it’s pretty rough, yeah.

This guy with his cart set up his shop there, his home, and people were complaining that it looked a mess. And you know what I said? I said, "Well, if you give him an apartment to go into, you won't see that mess." 

So they got pushed out but that’s always on the side. If there’s anything going on downtown like if it’s a stabbing or something, it’s on the news. But if it’s like somebody died or froze, no, can’t show that, looks like we don’t care. Like there’s people that have died, is that on the news? No.

Because I had that little incident [in a shelter], so I ended up out on the street again. I had a little shelter made up by the Home Depot Northfield and King there. I stayed under the elements. So it wasn’t too nice. And then I went back a second time. They finally let me back in after about three months I was out doing—like out in the street and stuff and I resigned back in again. Well, at the time, Laurel Street address had come up but I heard some horror stories about. So I never at first signed up for it. Then after the second time around, I had basically no choice because I didn’t want to go through the same shit again. So I ended up going and that’s how I ended up at Laurel Street and I was there for five years. Don’t ask me how. It was almost like I was doing a five-year stint.

 If you can't afford to live somewhere and all the shelter systems are full, where are you going to go? I mean, it's, it's just so sad and again, more changes again there. They took out pay phones. I mean, a lot of people would like to sleep in a stairwell rather than outside on the ground, the cold, hard ground. Um, but I mean, there's people that go around now and say, you can't sleep in them. Okay, we're putting locks on the doors. Um, the banks, lots of people used to sleep in the bank. It's warm, you know, the middle of winter, you don't want to be outside and sometimes there's not enough funding. There's not enough room for everyone. People can't go anywhere. So they've got security guards now they're, they're willing to pay people 20 plus dollars an hour to sit in the nice little warm area and make sure, you know, other people don't come sit there. Other people don't sleep. Because why, I don't know. Well, I mean, I guess it's bad for business. It doesn't look good. But really when it comes down to it, like where do we all go? 

 

Tent cities

I would take them to some of the trails, because that's where,.. like where they won't be noticed. And, because there's people camping there and not very many, unless you go down those trails, you won't notice it, Or, finding like, where these abandoned houses. There's people there that are displaced, so. 

It’s there, it’s in crevices, you can see it. If you know downtown and you know places, you know where to find all that stuff, yeah.

 Wherever there’s like woods or like a bush or some sort, I mean they’re all over. I mean there’s not any specific places but they’re out there. People have to sleep somewhere so whether they have a tent or not, that’s where they camp out, you know? Yeah, there’s a lot of them that stay out in the winter time too and they have whatever they have. I don’t know how they’re doing it. I did it for a short stint. It was nasty waking up from going to sleep at night and having snow in the morning. You’re out in the elements, buddy.

 

Exclusion

I can see all this stuff going up and I can see all the other people enjoying them. On the outside looking in ... because well like here, I can’t even afford rent. It's a daily grind, I'm seeing all these changes but none of them are for me. Every year I get a bit older, every year my health gets a little bit more shaky, every year life becomes more of a struggle. I’ve got nothing to look forward to here; things are just going to get worse until I die.

 

Survival Crime

Something like that, yeah. But as far as that goes I don’t know what else. Well ... yeah. Like people do need a place to live, whether low-income or – well if they have money they pretty well have to be what, a lawyer or technology, but I don’t know what you have to be. So either way you know, you have to have more of a chance around here, and I find they’re closing everything up. And when you find that people live on the streets, whether you’re old or whether you’re young, you’ll be into the drugs, maybe into break and enters to support yourself. And who put you there, hmm?

 

Struggles with Disability

But still, disability – if you’re on disability with two kids even, you try and get yourself a three-bedroom or a two-bedroom. You’re going to pay a high price for it. That’s going to take you through your disability and you’ve got to feed those kids too, you know, and probably pay your hydro. Not too many places you can go anymore, first and last anymore, but like everything goes up.

 

LGBTQ+ Discrimination

It’s just – I'm going to sound real cynical and real down – it’s just, it’s a trap. That’s what I – it’s a trap of a town, because there’s so many people here. And you know, see, coming from my own background, you know I've lived a gay, bisexual sort of lifestyle for many, many years. I came out when I was like 23 years old. So, cut to the chase, 18 years later coming back to Ontario – Galt, Kitchener – I was sort of really disheartened to see what had happened, you know, like to Kitchener especially, you know, based on my memories of like the ‘80s kind of thing. And you know, just when I was leaving to go out west, the industry and everything here was starting to die off and move away and close down, so on and so forth. So, in a nutshell, to see all that happen, it was kind of devastating in my heart, because now there’s…And that one gay bar closed shortly thereafter I moved up to Kitchener. So I feel inevitably that there’s not a lot of resources here for – more so for men than women, young men coming out. There’s no place for them to go… So hence the reason they feel the need to escape, and their escape is by putting a needle in their arm or doing crack or whatever it is that they do, right? And it actually really breaks my heart. It breaks my heart.

Yeah, and I've been around and I hear people talking, and I see it with my own eyes, I'm living it, that the biggest problem with IV drug users is – and all of it actually – is sexuality, is predominantly sexuality, and yeah, there’s nothing here that welcomes it. So they’re feeling lost, they’re feeling trapped, and trying to suppress and repress based on the fact that there’s no place for them to let it go, not like for me when I, back in the day, it was different.

 

Lack of Safety 

So just having a place to call your own where you can go and you can keep your stuff, you know it’s not going to get stolen. To have that safety. It benefits society on so many levels if everyone can have a place to live. And it’s still so hard for people to really kind of grasp and understand that. 

Pretty much got no, nothing now, except for what's on my back and a box at the House of Friendship. That's all I got for my life right now. And my cellphone got stolen, my glasses got stolen. I, I need my cellphone back, because I got a Capital One card coming in, but my cellphone is the only thing that's got my email address in it, right. I need that to activate my card, so. And, I'm searching high and low, for anybody that's got it, so. It's just one thing after another.

It’s just a joke. I want to go to the washroom but they’re shooting up right in the bathroom. They cater to these people like an older guy just got beat up yesterday, smashed over the head, hurt his ear, now he can’t hear out of it. Stole his money, stole his wallet and the kicked him out for 14 days... 

 

Mental Health

Yeah, like it [displacement] seriously impacts the mental health of people. Because, when they have a place of their own, they were struggling with mental health issues, but it increased those mental health issues to a greater degree, making them feel helpless, hopeless and not seeing a reason to live, because they don't have a place to live.

 

Addictions

So you have this certain percentage of wealth, people that are wealthy. So I don’t understand that. Sometimes it’s difficult to wrap your head around that more than it is to wrap your head around sexuality or drug use or something like that, because like people are people. And you know, I don't know. And these people that think, you know, people that do drugs are bad and they’re dark and they’re evil, I can tell you for sure it’s not true. I can tell you for sure it’s not true. Makes me very sad actually, yeah.

And then you've got – the authority has got a dollar a beer or whatever it's called. Now they're all wanting us to get drunk. The people that are out on the street already, they're out on the street because of drugs and drinking a lot because they have nothing else. Like, opening a great, big, two-storey liquor store right downtown, right beside the beer store, what? … To me, it looks like they're trying to get rid of them all – get everybody drunk and high so that they can get rid of us. They're dying off faster. You know? Like, look at how many have died on the drugs.

 In the last five years, I'd say the biggest change I've seen is more and more people dying. I mean, we all know that there's an opioid epidemic going on and I know I might be getting off topic. Um, but more and more of my friends dying, more and more people I know, my acquaintances dying, especially young people dying, you know, they've got something implemented nowadays. 

 

Suicide 

Basically, people don't know where the resources are and when people do find those resources, they're difficult to tap into, because of the waitlists, so. Like, especially with addictions and suicide, like there's waitlists. And, before the person gets further up on the waitlist to be seen, it's probably already too late, because they probably kicked the bucket, so.

I seen me sleeping outside when it was freezing out there, but I didn’t freeze to death. And people get depressed and whatnot, throwing themselves in front of trains. I don’t do that.

 

Disempowerment

I’ve never been to a council meeting of any sort whatsoever. And I get up there, my mouth is completely dry, and my legs are like rubber and I’m going, “Oh my God.” And I start to look at point for things and suddenly my time is up. And I’m going – I feel like an idiot. And they basically, one by one, shoot down every one of my ideas. And I just – I’m like that. And I just slide over to the seat and I just am humiliated. 

 

Arts and Culture Out of Reach 

Within the city and also socioeconomically and culturally. I can’t afford to go sit in the square, for example. In the arts, there are certain things I wouldn’t mind catching. I can’t afford... Are you kidding? Pay 30 bucks to go to the symphony, you know, go to free ones. Or you go to, you know, ones that are five bucks or something like that, you know? That’s my kind of money.

 

Tech Culture & Cultural Exclusion 

Yeah. And true I'm not a technology person. Sure I have a cell phone with Internet and all that, but who cares? I just use it to send text messages, that’s it. Google, shmoogle. I'm being honest with you, right? I hate it. And nobody really cares about it, right? Like, the most down-to-earth person really doesn’t care about that kind of stuff. Like, what’s that going to do for me? Is that going to give me a nice shop to go to downtown, or…? All the shops are filled up with tech offices. Piss me off. It does.

No. It’s only for the people that are interested, and it’s only for the people that are in that field, in that bubble. It’s like a glass bubble for lack there of a better term. Yeah, it’s just that that doesn’t cater to the majority of people. That caters to the minority, because the majority really don’t care about it, because they have their – all they care about really is, you know, you’ve got your phone in your hand or you have your laptop at home, and you’ve got the cable TV for Netflix, and people don’t care about the big picture or the outside world. It’s just everybody works hard for their money, you pay the rent. You’ve got to pay the rent and buy the groceries. 

 

Class Division

And she's one of those many people that don't realize, it could happen to her at any given moment. And she doesn't believe it will happen to her, so. I think that's where the biggest divide is. People who are wealthy, they have this ideology of, people like me are beneath them and it will never happen to them. They don't think that they will lose their job, they'll lose their finances, they'll lose their souped-up truck, so.

 

Social Exclusion

So I'd get a meal and she would take it home. But what I liked… You know what I liked about that? Some of the people didn't go to very many places. There were old guys that – some of them might not have even been that old, but they weren't furry so you didn't know. And so I went in and this one fellow, he was sitting there with his soup, you know, like this. And I went up and I laid my head on the table and I said, "Hi, how are you today?" And I got the nicest, big smile. He was just happy that somebody talked to him.

 

Experiencing Displacement and Gentrification  2/4 

King Street Gentrification & LRT Construction

Well, I'm looking at this billion dollar project that just flew by us... There's a wonderful train that I can't live on. 

The LRT is actually coming right down by Conestoga Mall where my ex lives and I used to live. And I at first was looking forward to this until I saw people that were, you know, sort of displaced with the condos, all the condos. 

And lo and behold, the LRT was originally, if you go back through its origins was to make the transit system better. And slowly but surely it morphed into being a tool for intensification. What’s that all about? And I went to a couple of the larger open community input sessions. And I was just listening to what people were saying. I’m kind of going, “Wow. Some of the things don’t make sense.” I don't know who – which side of this I’m on.” But it’s like it seems like it’s all being slanted one way here.

I mean all that money could have been put so many other places. We could have implemented this startup fund again for first and last month's rent with Ontario works social services. We could have built another shelter with millions of dollars. We could have done so much more with it. Um, and again, all of these pretty new buildings. Well, I mean, yeah, they look nice. Great. But what about the other 3000 people currently homeless in kitchener or Waterloo? They're supposed to battle whatever demons they're battling and get better and get on their feet. It's not that easy when there's no room for them to live anywhere.

I mean I'm getting a lot of use out of the ion. I really.. At first when it came in, I was a bit skeptical about how this was going to work, you know, because it was really, I'm sure a lot of people were because we're always, you know, we're always thinking what something new is or how is that going to work. I take it all the time now. Like where I live, the stop, it's just 10 minutes from my house, so I just walk up and get on the bus and down I come downtown or go to city hall here I have a thing I do across the street. I think people are fearful because it's all new and they don't understand it quite yet. You know, I see people struggling with them, machines for tickets and you know, all these things you’ll learn you know as time goes by. But I mean, people, you know, they can't figure out how to get transfers and what button to push. 

I’m all for development. I know the construction of the LRT was annoying, especially for people who had to cross certain intersections. That’s in like they were under construction for like two years. But I also feel that you know, once the LRT is up and going a few years from now, we will forget what it was like beforehand. I think development is good. You know, it helps people. The biggest concern I have is that they’re taking down all the affordable kind of middle-class units, houses, and they’re not replacing them with anything. So when we’re forced to move there’s getting to be fewer and fewer places that we can actually go and still stay in the region.

Like, I think a lot of these have gone up because of the ION. It's – a lot of these buildings that have gone up have all – it's all either that, or it's coincidence, because this all started happening after the work got started on the ION. .. apparently the downtown population, once all these have gone up? Is it supposed to increase to 6000? Actually double? But is it – it kind of makes you think, where's all the affordable housing going?

The LRT, to me, it’s a joke. I think it’s a big waste of taxpayers’ money but just me because again, here we are going back to students and the tech sector… And one of the things they pointed out was, “Oh, well now students can get back and forth to Conestoga College out in Dune.” What does that have to do for me...

 

Development at a cost of affordable units

What I’ve seen is a lot of developing aspect of the city and they’re just not keeping up with like low income property. It’s like they’re building these condos everywhere and they’re mowing down places that used to be rooming houses. Five to 10 people out on the street every month and it’s just never ending. The city [Waterloo] I don’t think has taken—I mean they take into account of the homelessness but yet, they give these developers the green light to build these phenomenal condominiums. 

Um, they broke down a whole bunch of small businesses here and bought them. And above each of these businesses were rooms to rent, apartments and, and now these rooms to rent and apartments that used to be at these small businesses are no longer here because we needed a bigger liquor store in the downtown core, of course.

We're now at city hall by King and Gaukel, and just across from city hall, you know, I, first of all on King and young street, they demolished the old Mayflower hotel. All right. And the old Mayflower hotel, you could live there on Ontario Works, you could live there on a fixed budget. You know, it housed a lot of people I lived in, in at one point and as we can see here, it's no longer here. It has been completely destroyed. Um, right behind it. They built another enormous condominium that nobody on any sort of financial assistance or part time work would ever be able to afford to live in. I remember protesting this building back a few years ago 

There was a building here. Yep. And above was a lot of apartments. Unfortunately, there was a fire quite a few years ago and everybody lost their apartments. The business shut down. They demoed the whole building. But again, they've never done anything with the lot. You know, it stretched just as far back here. And it housed a lot of people.

Well my thoughts is that there’s a lot of people on social assistance out there needing housing, like cheap affordable housing. They’re tearing these houses down, like two and three-bedroom houses that they could rent out cheap to the low-income people. They tear two or three down and build a condo there. It’s a wonder they can afford the condos, the people that can’t afford the [money] live on the streets. That’s why we have so many homeless today. That’s my way of thought, anyway.

What are they going to do to make it better? There’s not affordable housing going up. Do you see any housing going up? There’s a big section from where Harvey’s is on King Street, King East, it’d be Cedar on down to Cameron and Madison. There’s a big space right there that they cleared off to build. Well they’re not building affordable housing there; they’re building more condos there.

That little, that Total Convenience on King Street, a Chinese couple owned it and they closed the store up. There’s apartments up over that. The store owner said that there’s new management taking it over and they’d pay them the rent, and then they’d give you notice after that. Well these people would stay there with so many months and pay the rent to these people that owned it. Then they came along and said, “Now we’re going to make arrangements to get the place torn down because that’s where the condos were going, eh? So now you have 90 days to get out; that’s 3 months’ time to find yourself a place because we’re going to demo it.” Well there’s still two people in there that are looking for a place and they had lots of time to find a place, but instead of renovating it they’re going to knock it down, so they definitely have to go.

And right where I’m living now, Elgin and King Street, they bought three decent older houses and they’re building a condo there now. And they’re advertising it starting at $400,000. You know, like where a lot of these older houses that they might’ve been tearing down were more than just being single-family houses, a lot of them they would rent out rooms or apartments, which is how they would help pay their mortgage, too. But they’re all disappearing.... 

Well, in Waterloo and around the University, it's really changed. That used to be a lot of houses there. And that's all – that's changed into – I guess that's all student housing now. So, you've got it all high-rises here too. Yeah. There's – some streets where almost all the old houses are gone, I think, yeah. ...I actually kind of wondered if so many of those going up, if it's actually forcing people on low income out. But then where would those people end up moving too?

There are so many businesses that had affordable apartments and rooms to rent above them and most of them no longer exists. Um, almost all of them don't exist anymore. I mean, sure, it's great that the city can have new businesses and money coming in, but I mean, when it comes down to it, people such as myself and people, don't know what else to say, people suffering from poverty have a hard time to find a place to live. Um, and there might be a lot of other reasons surrounding that, but when it comes down to it, it shouldn't be so hard.

Okay. Um, here at King and Louisa is a pretty big condominium. Six stories. It's got to have a lot of, a lot of places in there. Um, it used to be a much older apartment building, smaller as well. It was a place you could, you could live if you were on Ontario works, if you were on social or financial assistance, ODSP whatever it might be, you know, or you only worked part time. You could definitely afford to live in this place. Looking at it right now. I mean, the rent's gotta start at about 1200 a month. Um, and I, I don't know what made them want to knock down the old building, but again, it's just one other place in my city that I can't afford to live at anymore. I mean, a lot of people couldn't afford to live at. It's upsetting.

 

Unaffordable developments

But see, it’s not meant for people like myself or people that are based on a low income. I mean who in their right mind could afford like $1,200-$1,400 a month for rent? I mean even the rooms now, I mean the rooms are going anywhere from $500-$700 a month and that’s just for one room.

Like, you know, it's nice to have all these pretty buildings but you need to fill them up. And they're too expensive for any of us that are on OW or disability or pension. 

Yeah. There’s condos going up everywhere and I know the mayor wants to have it [affordable housing] somewhere – I guess the old Schneider building where he wants to have it changed that some affordable housing units are in there, but what do they classify as affordable, right.

But you can see it though, they’re not helping us. That’s gentrification right there. People are yelling, “We need affordable housing” and the buildings are still going up and they’re still going up and it’s going in here and out here. ... Well, it comes to the construction, what they should do is have more low-income properties instead of just these high-end condominiums, that’s one but that’s putting a Band-Aid on everything. 

What are they going to do to make it better? There’s not affordable housing going up. Do you see any housing going up? There’s a big section from where Harvey’s is on King Street, King East, it’d be Cedar on down to Cameron and Madison. There’s a big space right there that they cleared off to build. Well they’re not building affordable housing there; they’re building more condos there.

Everything is closing. And then, they put a condo up. But, I don't see any affordable housing coming up, right. None whatsoever, right, so. Well, nothing, nobody wants to rent down here anymore. 

I mean we’re getting wall-to-wall condos, you know, among other things but they aren’t building any units for people like me. It’s like being invited to a banquet and told you can watch everybody eat, but you can’t. I'm on the outside looking in. But I can see all this stuff going up and I can see all the other people enjoying them. On the outside looking in ... because well like here, I can’t even afford rent. It's a daily grind, I'm seeing all these changes but none of them are for me. On ODSP, the shelter allowance is 479$, you can't rent anything for 479$. The big thing is these condos, and if you get down closer to our university, they’re [not] just condos, they’re student condos.

Condo buildings don’t bother me at all. It’s just that I want options. I mean it’s fine to have places for people to live, and if somebody wants to buy a condo so be it, by all means. If I had the money I'd buy a condo myself. But I don’t. And I just want options as a tenant and as a citizen of Kitchener. I just want options. You can build all of the condo towers you want. Give me a McDonald’s. Give me a pet shop. Give me a hardware store. Don’t make me go half way across town or… It doesn’t even make any sense.

And what a difference. You go up to Waterloo and it’s like nice and clean. There’s stores. And there’s a grocery store downtown and it’s like what the hell? That’s what we need downtown too is a grocery store, not some back-alley John and Joe’s where a pack of sausages costs $10. That’s ridiculous. I'm surprised the doors aren’t closed yet. But it’s for probably like the City Hall workers, who are making 25, 30 bucks an hour. It’s not the average Joe like myself that would go there or can afford to go there. I go to Food Basics. I go up to Central Fresh. I buy $60 worth of meat every month, you know, stretch it over the month, and yeah. But I just don’t understand, you know, how come there’s not a grocery store downtown. It’s so dumb. 

Another thing, all the condominiums going up downtown area, which I think they should. The grocery store down there, instead they’ve got restaurants, bar, restaurants, bar, all the way down King Street. All we have is a Dollarama and Shoppers Drug Mart, the only two to shop in. Like everybody in my building. They want to go downtown and pick clothing up, groceries. They say they have to take their walkers, their scooters, whatever, and go get a bus and go way out for shopping, out to FreshCo or that. Well we have a grocery store downtown instead of a condo going up or, you know, or instead of a restaurant going up put a big grocery store up there. 

Finding affordable housing for people is really a struggle and a scene. You don't really see an end to it. Like, it's really, I mean some, I don't know how to put it, like the universities too. It's kind of competitive, they too have to find a place and they may have you competing with university dudes, you probably could pay $700 or $800 for an apartment. Where are people like us that may be on disability or you know, that'd be more than half you check eh. 

I notice that it's a different vibe from like 20 years ago, so. Like seeing how much the area changed, from when I went to school there to now, is like, "This is not where I used to go to school." … Yeah, like, with some of those changes, I feel there's going to be an overcrowding of, I want to say the wealthy. And, there's not enough being done with those who are struggling to find a home, an apartment. 

 

DISPLACEMENT & GHETTOISATION 

Feeling of Being Pushed Out 

Yeah, it sounds awful, but it is, but, but I think, in my opinion, a lot of displacement is due to the power of somebody else. Like, if they don't want you there and then out you go. 

I mean, there are so many people in this city that are displaced at the moment. I mean, where do we all go after these buildings are like, all these buildings are being sold, they're being developed. They're being turned into these beautiful looking buildings that nobody can even afford to live in. And I don't mean nobody. I mean the people of the Kitchener Waterloo region who are poor, who unfortunately are suffering through property. And I mean, honestly, if I think about it really hard, I mean, it feels like they're trying to eliminate people who are suffering from poverty. 

Well, Google seems to be running the City, and there is no real City, and most people who have been here are very dissatisfied and very – they're feeling like – have you ever read the story about the camel in the tent?

The guy had a tent and he lived in there, and the camel came along and says, can I just put my head in? The sand is blowing, the wind is blowing so hard, I just have to have protection for my eyes and my nose, I’m breathing the sand. The guy says, okay, okay, and let him put his head in. And then he said, my neck is really bad, can I just get my neck a little more in? And pretty soon the camel was almost in the tent and there was no room for the guy and the guy had to leave his own tent. And that’s the story.

Oh yeah. Yeah, like if you get a rooming house here and this guy's got a million dollar house here, right, there's going to be some push to get the rooming house out, right. Because, it's lowering his property value, right. 

It [gentrification] means pushing people out. Working with Worth a Second Look, having a reduced income unfortunately, I eat at the soup kitchen from time to time and other one in town. Is that I see people in my now circle of acquaintances being pushed out… By and large, gentrification is … the nice part is better lawns, people making the properties and upgrade the properties, which has been happening anyways. 

Gentrification, like all the rich people coming in, you know, and then the people that are marginalized living in poverty are basically shoved out to the outskirts of town, you know what I mean, it’s … I don’t know, I believe in keeping people together, do you know what I mean, like a community of mixed people; not separation, not like labelling, name-calling, or … yeah, I don’t agree with this gentrification thing.

But, I don't know. We got to pay attention more to the people on the street, right, rather than just pushing them aside, right. Because, you know, some of these people used to be good working people, at one time, so. Like, there's guys in the House of Friendship, they're in their 60's, right. They've worked all their life and things like that and somehow they just couldn't maintain their place, or couldn't maintain rent, right. 

See, I don’t know too much about the bureaucratic part of it but see if you take these older places and I mean, I’ve lived in a lot of places that were older but they were well maintained and the rent was reasonable. But again, on your note, now what they’re doing is they’re taking these older properties and they’re renovating them and then you want examples. There’s one on College Street that they had taken over College and Weaver in that area. And I mean they’re like old, old but they renovated and made them top notch and they pretty much kicked everybody out of there because anyone that was living there, there was no way they would be able to afford the rent that they got charged. 

Ghetto – the rest of the city. They're going to push everybody into a certain area, right, and just pretty much segregate them, right, because, "Oh, you're poor. You can't afford this. You can't afford that," right. And, it could be because they drink too much, or take drugs too much and things like that too, right... Even some of the seniors at the Soup Kitchen, right. You know they're poor. They're on a fixed income and things like that and, it's hard for them too, right.

No, but I heard that well Fairview Mall, they’re going to put a condo there too in the parking lot. Okay, now, well, definitely not hurting anything but you could put a building there where somebody can live like for us. “Oh, they can’t afford to shop here.” That’s the thinking of it, right? “Don’t put them beside a Macy’s, put them beside like the Dollar Store.” Pretty soon, we can’t afford the Dollar Store. 

"People are being pushed to the peripheries. People are going homeless. People are moving out of the city. I’m not connected to them is because they’re not there to be spoken to." and I got to say, that for myself, the more difficult the city is to get around, when those trains are up and running, and it makes it even more difficult for me to get around, I would seriously consider not only moving from where I am living, I would consider moving out of the city.

Yeah and what does that do for me? It just pushes me out. And then pretty soon, those guys are going to be able to.... And then got all these rooms in downtown Kitchener above the stores, all empty. Well, why don’t you rent those out? Because it’s going to be a big tear down, probably condos going up again. Well, a whole bunch of condos going up. The one by the beer store over there. Two are going to be going over here on Frederick and Duke like two big ones by the courthouse. There’s another one down by [Gockle] like 30-40 storeys and what do they got for us? And you think these people that move in want to see us down there? No. 

We just, we just, we don't have them. We don't have the finances to live in condominiums. We need more affordable housing. I'm looking at so many places where we can build affordable, three-story walk-ups and we don't have them, you know, and we, we need, we need your help. Whoever you are listening right now. I mean, we can't do it alone. It takes courage to ask for help. I know that. And I mean, take a look at it from my point of view. Walk a day in my shoes. It's not always easy, but it's simple. We just need to put some money aside somehow. Something's got to change because I mean, everybody is being forced out of downtown because of lack of affordable housing.

 

Inaccessible Supports

Gentrification. But yeah, it worries me. Where are these people going to go? And how close will they be to what they need, you know? And not only that; some of these people do volunteer at the places downtown. And they like to be near downtown, but the most thing is they need to be near transportation. That's the main thing. They need to afford the transportation that they're near. And some of those people cannot take – the pass is, what, 80 some-odd dollars now. Some people cannot afford… That's a lot of money. That's a "lot" of money.

Most people can't cause of transportation. There are some subsidized housing available. have a friend who lives out on Bleams road, takes him 2 buses to get to downtown. To live out there you're expected to have a car. I think what's happened is that these agencies who run subsidized housing - to keep grants coming in - they don't put people near downtown away from the services.

It’s not people are moving, it’s just the way the city wants it; just like everywhere else, in Montreal, every big city all the poor people, marginalized people are on the outskirts, in the suburbs, right, where people that are rich, you know, they’re all living in. Where people that need to access services and agencies, everything is in town, like in the downtown core, how are the people going to access all that if they’re living way out in the boonies, they don’t have money for transportation, right.

So like the safe injection site, that being placed downtown, right downtown is good because it’s where everything else is; agencies, programs, counselling, everything is in the heart of downtown and, I don’t know, I’ve seen people out in the outskirts where there’s nothing available for them. ...You have to be connected. People being isolated – like where I live, I feel isolated sometimes, I feel alone…

And, it's losing the touch of being what I feel what Kitchener used to be. Like helping one another and looking out for one another. And, actually making it feel like home, instead of, "Oh, you don't matter anymore. We're doing this. We can't help you anymore." I hear a lot of people, I want to say complain that they're being brushed aside for the resources that they need. 

 

Displacement of a Home

And my apartment is far from perfect, but I’ve really kind of made it my own. Like in the summer it gets gross hot and there’s way too many spiders. I am not a fan of spiders. But other than that, I couldn’t imagine living anywhere else right now because it’s not just the building. It’s the people. My supers are fantastic. ...And so you always have the neighbours looking out for each other. We get along well so it’s hard to find that as well. To have good neighbours and a good building in a good location, you can’t ask for anything more than that.

So when I got this one, like I said, even though it’s not perfect, to me it’s perfect because you know, I would never take for granted the fact that I have – it’s a two-bedroom apartment which again suits all my needs perfectly in a fantastic location with great neighbours. Like that’s not just something I know is available everywhere. I know that type of thing is extraordinarily hard to come by. So when I got there I was just very – I felt very, very fortunate that I found it when I did.

 

Fear of Displacement 

And when a person gets a new place, they feel like very unstable, because in the back of their mind, they're always having the though like, "What do I do if I get kicked out again?" Like, "Where do I go? How do I save?" And it's really hard to save on ODSP, or OESP, because, if you get so much money in your bank account, they consider it income and take it away from you, so.

At 48 Weber, yes 48 Weber used to have low-income people, lots of low-income people. Everybody went out of there, now it’s all brand-new stuff in there, new walls, whatever – all brand-new fridges and stoves. And phew! The place went up and these poor people moved out, and now they’ve got people in there that work in offices and everything moved into these places and they’re all done up – just [basic condos] in them. They basically said they were going to be overhauling or redo them, everybody had to get out. And when they do them up the rent’s going to go higher so they have to take new tenants in. So these ones that were there didn’t have the opportunity to go back there again after they got it done because they raised the prices and they said they wanted new tenants all in. 

Right now we’re just in the state of limbo because we don’t know what’s happening. We don’t know when we’ll be forced out. They will give us 120 days notice when the time comes but we don’t know when that time will come. And so it’s hard to plan ... They have also tried to have us sign something basically stating that we agree not to pursue anything like that which I didn’t sign. Well, there has been … Some people in the building did sign because some people have just kind of realized that this isn’t worth the fight. 

Well when I was living on top of the hill on Cedar Street that was kind of a – it was becoming kind of a rough area. But it did provide homes and also social outlets for low-income people who lived there. And the city decided they didn’t want these kinds of people around, so they did a big thing of gentrification for that whole area around King and Cedar. And they’d basically driven out all of the low-income people. Now I don’t know where they went or where they – but I mean they didn’t die so they’ve gone. But they’ve just driven them out. .... 

Well, you can't make a building and put all the poor people in the same building. That's only asking for problems. All of these condos… Like, some apartment buildings have to take so many low-income people, because they had a deal with the city. But I understand now that a lot of places do not have that kind of deal with – so that people can stay downtown. 

I just don't know. I think that they've displaced people enough now that they're not going to be doing that anymore, because they've got that big condo going up. They've got condos already up. And so they aren't going to be touching them anymore. 

He had five kids; he had one with autism. They had a – what was it, a four-bedroom house and they had five kids and he had to make a special part in the basement for one child. And he had a hard time finding that house. He done it all over and everything. They put him living with relatives. They were going to say the family has to find a place, and it was a long time before he found a place. He had to shift the kids’ school system, he had to shift the little boy’s – run the little boy further for his autism class or wherever he was going. So it was really hard for that family, you know? At least if they’re going to do something, at least if they want to do something they could maybe make sure these people have a place or something first, you follow what I mean?

 

Displacement of Activities

But I'll tell you, I really miss the McDonald's that's on King, and that's because of the LRT. I really miss that. We used to go there all the time, just walk down there and yeah. So they took part of their driveway, their drive-thru area. And then I thought, "Why didn't they just make it a walk-in McDonald's?" I don't know. And I miss Trinity Church, which was right down on Frederick next to the Y, across from the courthouse. They tore that down and they're making condos. So yeah, I miss that church.

So I used to be homeless and it’s your street friends, your street family, right. You get to trust people that are where you are and it’s … 

Well, they've taken out a lot of the bars that were down there. Like, there was the Grand Union and the Welper had a bar as well and then the Mayfair, the Mayfair Hotel is still empty in that spot, but they had a bar. And they had hotel rooms that you could get, and that's all gone. And it was always friendly down there, you know, because everyone was walking around drunk. But yeah, it's… Like, they took out a lot. Like, look at Bud's. Bud's was there for years. That was my favourite store for bedding and towels, and yeah, it's gone. And [Goudies]… Oh, you weren't here, so…

Well Bud’s was there, yeah, but this one up the street, it ... oh what the heck did they call that? King Centre, something like that? The one across from Shoppers Drug Mart anyway, that big building. It used to be full of grocery stores, clothing stores and everything. That’s all dropped off. Now that’s all offices and that, you know? Bud’s closed up, what are they going to do with that? Make that into a technology/computer shop. Where is what we need? There’s nothing downtown, there’s nothing. There used to be a bowling alley and theatres downtown, lots of theatres. Yeah, I liked to take my kids to the theatres to watch movies and things like that. I could take them bowling downtown and there’s so many more things to do downtown. And now it’s changed so much that what do you do with young kids after they’re – the only thing is the park. There used to be stores like Nutshacks, entertainment centres down there. We’d play pool and ping-pong and that; there’s nothing down there anymore. There used to be a bowling alley, Strand Bowling Alley; where’s all those things today? There’s not even a theatre downtown on King Street… You know, so where is everything today? 

They're putting in all these businesses, all these condominiums that are not affordable. You will not be able to live on social assistance in one of these condos. I'm looking at them as we walk around the streets today and it's upsetting. It really is. It is upsetting. Um, other things that have changed, uh, there is a lack of payphones downtown. I think I can only think of, I can only think of one pay phone along King street. Now. Now that might sound odd to most people, but I mean, when you don't have money to even pay your phone bill, well, where are you going to go to use the phone?

 

Displacement of Culture

Well, I mean like Kitchener Waterloo and before like all the—like you had so much more here like before they started building all these condos. I mean they didn’t have rooming houses, they did have—I don’t know how to explain it. It was just so much vibrancy in living in the downtown sector. 

All the condos that are going up. That's uh, I shouldn't say it bothers me, but it's just a, I get a sign of Kitchener growing like we're going up now instead of out. And again, people need a place to live. But I mean there is sometimes you'd like Kitchener is an old city you'd like to maintain that atmosphere, I guess for lack of a better word, and to see these huge condos going up in the middle of downtown is just, I mean, it seems to be not what I want and not, not me, I shouldn't say this, but it just seems to be out of character from all these old buildings that are along King Street that have been there for a hundred years. 

It’s basically changing the culture of the city in different areas which often becomes unaffordable to the people who currently live there. It’s almost like a forced cultural change because they have all these new high rise apartment buildings coming up. There’s the Bauer Towers not too far from me too that went up recently and these are high priced rental units because they’re trying to get that and then the higher priced stores start moving in, the high priced restaurants start moving in and so even if you are able to kind of keep a grab on affordable housing in that area, you can’t shop or eat near yourself anymore because everything keeps on going up in price. So I’ll go to the coffee shops and stuff still or the little restaurants, but there are some clothing stores in uptown Waterloo and I look at some of the things there and I could never afford to shop there. 

And so suddenly you start feeling unwelcome in the neighbourhood you’ve always lived in because again, it would be that feeling of if by some chance I was able to get an apartment in this new building, if people found out that I wasn’t paying the same as them I’d get a cold shoulder. I wouldn’t necessarily feel welcomed by my neighbours. Or for some people, you know, trying to walk into some of these stores and stuff and have the staff look at them like you don’t belong here. And after a while, you just get alienated from the area and that’s another reason why you would want to move is just to get back to something that is familiar.

You know, like he was really, you know, I mean it's really become, I mean again, I'm not being judgmental, but I, I just find like I grew up in a different time from what it is now. Like I'm from, I'm a sixties guy, I'm the hippie with the beard and the tee shirts and all that. And for me to, you know, it's become not, not colder, but it's pretty become more, I don't, for me it's become more impersonal. If he would walk her over there and you can't even say hi to somebody cause they’ve got their earbuds in, you know, it's really, so I find that part of, uh, of technology, kind of a pain in the neck… I guess I've come from a different time and, and the way things are going now. It's just, it's, it's kind of really not too much over you, but it's really too fast for me I guess. You know, it's really, like technology has passed me by I really. I had to have my sons help me with my computer when I was there and I got a new phone and I'm struggling with that and it's just a, you know, I miss the old days. 

There used to be, you know. It’s all, you know, these apps and the high-tech people and whatever. And they’re not part of the original fabric of the community. Now, they’re becoming the main fabric. And as a consequence, those other people aren’t being a part of the fabric. Which is serious. 

 

Social Isolation

But when everything starts to change around you and the people start to change around you – because like I said with my apartment building it’s our little community too, it’s my neighbours, and I often find that the higher place – the more higher-priced places get, the more distant people get from their neighbours because when I look at those big apartment buildings, I’m wondering how many people there even know who their neighbours are on their floor. 

I usually just stick to myself. And I don’t seem to have any enemies. Nobody wants to look behind my back when I walk around, so everything seems to be fine there. I don’t want to hang around a crowd of people or bus terminals, (sound effect). Bars and stuff like that, (sound effect), I don’t go there. Not that I can, but I probably – because I can't afford it – but I just don’t like noise. It’s just, it’s not me. I prefer me sitting back away. I got put a TV in that corner and have a great time right here. Don’t have to hear nothing.

He goes, “We’re all ... crazy.” He said “You got to do what you got to do to get through the night.” And it makes perfect sense, because when the darkness sets in, that’s the loneliest time in a person’s life. And you have to live that every night, every night, because the darkness sets in every night.

Like, I have severe anxiety, and it… But yeah, I'm pretty good on my own. You know, it's just… But like with me, I… Like, when I leave for the day from here or St. John's, I sometimes have a hard time finding things to do outside of my place or outside of here, so… But yeah. I try and keep myself busy at home. I do find things to do at home. And when that runs out, I just go for really nice, long walks over by my place.

It's a, and sometimes there's people [landlords] that will, because you had been homeless, they wouldn't take you, cause they’re afraid you’re going to ruin their place, you know, so, so you're already, you're fighting that too. You're labeled… doesn’t mean you’re homeless means you're a bad person, you've just had some bad luck or, or something happens, you know, I mean, it’s not the place you want to be, but here you are, you know, you've got to do with it. 

And it's sad.We all deserve is a place to, to be, feel safe and to have a roof over her head. I mean, I walked down the street and I see guys lying in the street. It's just, I can't believe it. You know, that this is Canada you know. And when I was struggling, I lived at the House of Friendship for, for about a month as well. And it's really a, you know, you're, you're kind of that we seem to be a society of labels where you, we're all, everybody has a label. Like here, you're homeless and you're, you know, you're mentally challenged and you're, you know, you might as well wear it on your head, you know, and uh, you know, that's when I found too that people really don't know who you are, they only know what you are...

 

Displacement of Small Businesses

So that’s where I’m noticing a lot of it but like a lot of people, I’m worried that with the LRT that’s really going to ramp things up because I’ve heard of people losing their businesses due to construction. Like some people lost business because they couldn’t get customers even though they could have technically stayed there, but then other businesses were forced to move because they were in the way of the LRT.

And now I don’t have a business, so I don’t have an income to pay back the money that I lost while this was happening. And I have nobody to go to, to cry on their shoulder and say, it was because of you doing all these things, that caused me – because I was in business for sixty five years and now I'm in a pickle. I just lost my house. 

I got to figure out – probably one of the last artists that had studio space above any of the storefronts. Would have been priced out. … bought the building and shoed everybody out. And that’s what happened to the Walper Barbers, for crying out loud. And so, I mean they went so far as to sign a lease with somebody else before they told the Walper Barbers that had been in there for decades that they were considering another tenet. They didn’t know until they heard on the radio.

What about the lived experience of actually walking along the street, using the stores, using the services? My barber that’s been there for over 20 some odd years is being kicked out, the [Robber] barber shop? Somebody more progressive is interested in the space. So, a developing – a development company owns the building and they don’t think that the existing barbers are progressive enough. What kind of ruler are we using here and how is that impacting? And now, yeah, okay, yeah, more money. Yeah, okay. I think may have mentioned to you over the phone, you know, the Tannery Building had probably 50 or 60 small businesses in it that are no longer there. Not only did they get pushed out of there, some of them are no longer in existence because they couldn’t find somewhere else or they were pushed out so far to the margins of the city that they couldn’t make a go of it because of their, you know, their margins and the market, the way it is. A number of those buildings had other sorts of businesses in them. And so, is that a good development? Who’s benefiting from this?

 

How Did We Get Here?  3/4

How did we get here? 3/4

Failure to Respond to the Building Crisis

Discrimination

“And it's sad. We all deserve a place to be, to feel safe and to have a roof over her head. I mean, I walked down the street and I see guys lying in the street. It's just, I can't believe it. You know, that this is Canada you know. And when I was struggling, I lived at the House of Friendship for, for about a month as well. And it's really a, you know, you're, you're kind of that we seem to be a society of labels where you, we're all, everybody has a label. Like here, you're homeless and you're, you know, you're mentally challenged and you're, you know, you might as well wear it on your forehead, you know, and uh, you know, that's when I found too that people really don't know who you are, they only know what you are.”

“I guess there are some further out but I’m not even looking at those because I don’t have a vehicle either, so ... another thing, and I’m not sure how they get away with this. In Waterloo in particular there’s all kinds of places for students, but that’s all they will take is students. Like I don’t know how they can discriminate against people like that but they get away with it, so.”

“When I was working, I worked with the mentally handicapped and I worked in a group home and I experienced this firsthand, but we just moved into this new home in the, in a subdivision like we, that's the goal of the of...it was to get people within the community not sticking to the same institution and leaving there that they can learn it. But anyways, when we moved in, I had four people come to the door and tell me they didn't want us there because their property values were going to go down...I said, excuse me? I said, no. He said, we don't want you here. We don't want you here.”

Income Insecurity

“Even the working poor, people are just working to make ends meet. You know, I work and I’m on disability too, and now, I’m going to be getting more hours, like another job come July. You know, like I want to get out of being on disability, but I have to be on it, right.”

“And everything is more expensive when you live in poverty because the instant you don’t pay your phone bill on time they’ll cut it off and charge you another $50 to put it back on. And during that time you’re in a panic because you can’t use your phone. So if something happens you can’t call anyone. If you’re waiting to hear back from a job opportunity you’re not going to get that call.” 

“I think with people that are on low income should be allowed to get a little bit more income than what they already have, you know, so that they can afford a place. Like, some of these people that live outside, you know, they need to be in where it's nice and warm, you know, like especially in the wintertime. I hate to see anybody out in the cold.”

“I think, yeah, that the city looks nicer cosmetically a little, the buildings look nicer. Um, but again, these nicer looking buildings, I can't afford to live in them right now. Like I'm working part time, you know, I'm trying to pay off debt to go to school and I, that's a whole other thing. But I mean, I, I can't afford to live in one of these big condominiums. Most of them look like they're barren. I don't know who's living there…”

“Well what I’ve noticed just in the last two years, like at the soup kitchen the crowds there have almost doubled in the last two years. So people are paying. They’re using what should be their food budget to pay for rent because they – the shelter allowance on social assistance doesn’t cover their rent. So people’s standard of living and their dignity is just going – every year it gets hammered down a little bit more. The crowds there at the kitchen, they’ve almost doubled. And no one would eat there if they didn’t have to.”

Inadequate social assistance rates

Well, what I think needs to happen but I’m convinced that it won’t happen, is [to] start, the social assistance rates, they need to be at least doubled. What happened, this goes back to I think about 1995 with Mike Harris. He rolled back OW by 22% and he froze ODSP. Well they stayed frozen for 11 years, and during that time we had about 3 or 4% inflation, and then the Liberals came in. They started giving increases of 1% and 2% a year, which were actually less than the rate of inflation. So all the Liberals did for the 13 years that they’ve in power is they basically maintained their freeze. 

Oh it is, it is. It’s just incredibly challenging and this is where again, the system is not working in the sense that even for myself when my bills are paid, I’m left with X amount of dollars, that’s like way, way, beyond the poverty level for someone to live comfortably. And same with being on social assistance, same thing. I mean it’s increased quite a bit but still now everything else is increasing but the money aspect isn’t. Like I mean when we get like a percentage increase, it’s like 1 percent. So that amounts to maybe like $10 a month. Where’s $10 a month going to get you? This has been going on for years. 

Due to circumstances I'm currently on financial assistance through Ontario works and it's not a lot to live on. It's actually very difficult to live on the amount they give you. I receive about $743 a month. My rent is $600 a month, doesn't leave a lot for food, personal need products, et cetera, et cetera. But I'm doing my best, you know, to make this work. I do know some resources to help me, to assist me to live and I'm grateful for them.

Disappearance of manufacturing jobs

But there’s not factory jobs like that anymore now. Yeah, but the way I look at it, you know they get a job from now until years to come for the younger generation. They’re going to need the high education, like technology jobs, think university, you know ... for them to get any work. So therefore they’re going to have to make big money in order to support finding a place to live, because everything’s going to be high. So the kids today that have no education from now on that don’t go to school, they’re not going to go very far the way I look at it. But the way the technology is, if a lot of them go to the self-start education – like my grandson, he’s in Grade 11 going to Grade 12. He wants to be a bank manager. Well that’s enough but you’ve got to build more education. He wants to keep going. But it’s a lot that – not to have the education, thinking that well, we don’t need to go out all the way to university and all the way to this and that, they don’t realize how much it’s grown, technology and stuff, that they need all this education in order to get ahead in the years to come. Because there’s no cheap jobs anymore, like in a factory or lots of factory jobs.

The other thing too is when I look back, you look at all the factories that have come and left. They used to be part of our community. They’ve all left, they’ve gone to Mexico, they’ve gone here, they’ve gone to the States and all those were well paying jobs and everything was good. You had nice high end paying jobs. You could afford it but that’s all been taken away. They’ve moved on. Now you have all this—where are people getting jobs if they’re not getting them out of town, they’re not getting them. So what are they going to do?

 

Distant Decision-makers

Parallel Universes

The advantaged own everything. And they’re being pandered to.Your Googles, your Communitechs, your Desire2Learns. All those folks. I know somebody that owns a company... that lives in a nice house in Waterloo. The reason is that they have a couple of investments. An advantaged person who made it through high school, made it through university, got a good job, was able to retire early, went on to city council, bought a couple of investments, making decisions for everybody else, including the disadvantaged and not having a clue of what it’s like to be disadvantaged. And that person, apparently, worked in the social service industry. But in a totally different zone. Presumably, in an ivory tower. Because I was surprised that that person who came across as a businessperson was – but their hands don’t get dirty. They don’t touch and they don’t mingle with the – so, there’s – oh yeah. There’s – in fact, I was thinking of writing a play, and maybe I will, on just that sort of interaction that I encountered, you know, and broaden that out.

It’s just untenable. This is why. And the – and the division between the populace. So, because I ride a bike and dress the way that I do, I’m treated like a lesser citizen. You get to know it. You get to feel it. And I was being treated like I was less than. So, I understand what it must be like to be indigenous and being impacted – or homeless or otherwise, because I’m dressing like it. I’m wearing, you know. I’m not – you can see the way that the people with the high-tech area, the people in the lofts and stuff like that. Well, it’s gentrified, and it’s polarized, big time. You can see that, you know. And it’s like you’ve got people that are walking the same streets that have totally different realities. And the people that have got the advantages and the people that have got the ear of the decision makers, have no awareness whatsoever of these other people. Or other than there are people that are just in the way.

See, I think one of the main issues here is all these buildings that are being sold and developed and turned into these big pretty buildings and different things. I mean, nobody really thinks about where everyone's going to go. Nobody knows where everyone's going to go. They're just in it to make their money. Right. And they're doing their jobs. Okay, fine. But what do we do with all these other people right here in this empty lot 

That a simple just crossing the street before is now so complex that I choose not to do  certain things or go certain places because of it. I know that nobody in charge of making changes to the Grand River Transit actually rides the transit for work or for social life or just for life in general. If they would, they would not put up with the amount of time that we have to wait. They would not put up with things such as there are no maps, if that’s what you call a diagram, of – so, where the bus terminal is, there is no map showing what platforms have which buses…. Walking extra far is problematic. Walking with a bicycle – how am I going to – how am I going to go into your elevator area or your stair area, carry a bike up and then go over and then down again? These aren’t considerations. Or these aren’t things that have been taken into consideration.

Lack of Representation

Like, with more wealthier people coming in, like I'm hoping they won't be stuck-up with what Kitchener is, or has been. And, not to be afraid to get to know their neighbours. Because, the lower class people contribute to a lot in Kitchener, even though the wealthy don't see it.

None of which is represented or connected to the community at large. None of them are directly – what’s the word? What is the word? Accountable. That’s the word I want. Centre Block committee, some businessmen, the board, a separate – developer, separate.

Lack of Trust in Institutions 

Not really. I mean talking about it is one time, but is anything ever going to get done about it? I mean here you and I are sitting here talking about like basically affordability. I mean it’s not going anywhere soon. I mean it’s unfortunate. They’re just not doing enough for people that are living on the street. 

So, I go back, literally, some 55, 56-7 years, with the connection to downtown. And have seen it literally gutted. And the powers that be, not only allowing it, but accelerating it. That was bad. ...Now, it’s not cynical, this the reality check. This is like – yeah, they work hand in glove with the developers.

We get more affordable housing. Mm-hmm. But, I don't see the government spending good earned tax money on that, while they can blow it on other crap, right, which they seem to do that a lot too, so. I don't know, we're never happy with our politicians.

The downtown sector. I mean I go to the soup kitchen every day, right? And so I basically see a lot of it. So I don’t really know, like I know of people that it’s just the way it is. You look around, you got crane after crane after crane building these phenomenal condominiums. And I don’t see any—I mean they’ve been talking about, for about at least five years now about low income people but nothing hasn’t been done. Nothing’s being done. 

That would be great because I mean again, like I said earlier, the city and the councillor, I mean they are doing a little bit here, little bit there but there’s just not enough being done and then there’s the red tape that they have to go over. And again, it’s like these property owners are getting the green light to build these freaking monster condominiums and stuff like that. 

Yeah, but see, where does the buck stop? I mean the city, you watch the news and you see all this, how concerned the city is with the homelessness but what are they doing about it? Nothing. There’s just giving licences to more developers, more developers and where does it end? They’re not looking out for the little Joe, they’re looking out for the big Joe. It’s unfortunate. I mean it’s reality, it really is, unfortunate reality. I mean I wish I could do something more, you know, honest to God. My hands are tied. 

So it depends on who's running the country… You know, affordable housing is not a priority right now. It's, you know, I don't know what his taxes or whatever we're paying off the debt or stuff like that, you know, so, so I think it's going to be a, a, a struggle all the way. I don't think it's going to be an easy road to, I don't see that in the near future any solution coming up.

I mean I could talk about this until I turn blue but it’s not going to change anything. The reason I’m not optimistic is because politicians don't care. Student Housing doesn't accommodate others and are not pet friendly... 

 

Rational Behaviour 

Speculations in real estate investment

Yeah. So on Erb – from Dietz to Erb, Westmount on Erb, there’s some houses that have been boarded up and they’ve been boarded up for years now. They were student housing. So I guess the people who used to own Sun Life Financial probably knew at some point they would be developing it and just didn’t want to deal with students all the time. So the new developers came in. They bought the plaza and the land up to Erb and then they just tacked on our area last year. 

See, this is just it though, you know? I mean again, I’ve been here for a long time and I’ve seen all the changes over the years progress. And I mean you look at the Mayfair, for instance. It used to be a hotel right at the corner of King and Yonge Street and that city owned it from about 2001 on before it had to get demolished because the upkeep wasn’t there and he sold it to a guy. What the city paid to get the elevator fixed, that’s what they sold it to the guy as a property. But then they had to tear it down because of structural damage and I’ve seen other buildings that the city has owned that have gone tits up because there’s no one really looking after them. But if we were to do what you’re thinking, you have all this city owned property, instead of selling it to greedy developers who build these high-end condos, why not sell it to—make something where people can afford it? 

I remember being young and, uh, Zappers was burned down and it might be a few different stories about. It was an arcade, but you know, for years now this, this empty vacant lot. It's just been sitting here. I mean, they, they haven't done anything with it. I don't, I don't know if they have plans for it, but it's sort of just sat here doing nothing. I mean behind it's just a bunch of gravel and rocks. Um, probably some garbage, but I mean, this could be turned into something. This could be turned into an affordable apartment building, some sort of resource center, but it's just kind of sat here the past couple of years, which is odd to me. Uh Hm.

So it’s the real estate market, in general, is going up. A lot of it also has to do with people buying places and then putting it on Airbnb because they can get more money that way than by actually renting it to somebody. I don’t know how prevalent it is in this area where people buy condos and then rent them out either through Airbnb or just through regular – you know, they basically become a landlord and start – and all the prices just start keep on going up. Because where I go to tutor that woman that one seems full, but all these luxury units always seem to have vacancies. And when that’s happening that should be an indication to developers in the city that maybe they’re going in the wrong direction.

Imperative of Profit Making

I always think of Kitchener as a mini Toronto. Kitchener-Waterloo I always thought of us becoming like a mini Toronto and with the condos going up and that, it’s more and more becoming true, we’re like a miniature Toronto. The richness and the city wanting more rich people coming in, rich people with money.

Well, they bought up all of the more run-down properties, tore them down and that’s where they built the market, among other things. And then on all the streets just behind there, it’s kind of like a little boutique area for businesses.  It means ... if you want to get the highest return on your investment you could build a condominium or an apartment where you might rent it out for $2,000.00 a month. That would be a far better investment than building much cheaper apartments, because say you rented a place out for $700.00 a month. It wouldn’t cost you twice as much to build a place that you could rent out for $2,000 a month. It might cost you a little bit more but not double; but your return is going to be double.

Often the elevator isn’t working or they’ve had hot water off and there’s lots and lots of issues with that building because I was once told that the running theory is developers don’t want to put money into projects that won’t get them the absolute highest amount back.

So developers don’t want to put money into a project that would have that middle-class affordable housing range when they could potentially make it higher and … 

Landscape Amnesia 

So, I'd say – I might notice the changes because living there, it might – I can see the changes happening. But, let's say I lived in Kitchener and I was away for about five years, and I came back again – then I probably wouldn't recognize it anymore.

I’m all for development. I know the construction of the LRT was annoying, especially for people who had to cross certain intersections... they were under construction for like two years. But I also feel that you know, once the LRT is up and going a few years from now, we will forget what it was like beforehand. 

People who have been here all these years, if you grew up with it and you don’t know any better, you accept whatever you get, because if somebody says every morning when you get up, you should put this piece of wood in this hole, and that means good luck, if you're taught – whatever you're taught from birth, you’ll do it, not because you know why, but because you were told to do it. 

There was a time even in the ‘60s if you wanted to have a conversation on King street you either had to go into a store front or stand between the parking meters because there were so many people on the street. The people on the street going back and forth were a cross section of people - they were going to the various stores (watch repair, groceries) have since gone out to the malls.

I think it becomes more noticeable to me when I drive down King Street and I see all the high rise buildings around because I know those high rise buildings probably went on top of buildings like mine. And there is just so many more of those towers around. Like the skyline is completely changing and that’s the sense because it’s almost like you don’t even notice them going up because you don’t go by that area or something and then suddenly you’re driving down King Street and you just realize the street’s getting darker because of all these high rises. 

Irrational Behaviour & Persistence in Error 

I can see that certain people are trying to make a lot of money off of a situation where it’s supposed to be a beneficial thing for the people. ...So that’s what I think. And now, aren’t people that make decisions of a billion dollars supposed to do it wisely and in consent with the population that pays it? 

Just, it bugs me that we spent all these billions of dollars on this ION when we so need affordable housing and we need our city officials to push for it. You know, I don’t – condominiums, sure it brings in people and money but you’re forgetting about the marginalized people too, right.

But at some point they’re going to run out of market because even right now there’s the big condo complex that went up five years or so ago on the corner of Erb and Westmount and I’m pretty sure they’ve never removed the banner where it says you can move in now because all these buildings are going up. There’s so many high rise apartment buildings and they can’t all be filled all the time. And instead of offering it to maybe to make it affordable housing they just are left vacant. 

Well I’m a homeless advocate, so you know what I mean, I see it, I live it and the fact that we need more affordable housing and stuff like that, and now we’re getting the city to let all these rich people come in and build condos without any zoning by law to allow affordable housing in those units, like that’s not fair, where are the marginalized people going to live, you know.

 

Erosion of the Common Good 

See, I used to hang out downtown. I very rarely go downtown. I mean I see what I see. I mean I don’t know how people really interact with each other especially the people that are the well paid from the tech sector and what not. And I mean they’ve taken away even a lot of space for the seniors. I mean there’s no grocery store anymore like there used to be. I mean it’s all catered and this is what annoys me. 

Again, it could be another building that could be built for affordable housing, but I don't know why nobody wants to invest in affordable housing. I mean, maybe you get less money from your tenants, but you are helping people. I mean, I mean the book of Matthew says do unto others as you would have them do unto you. You know treat people how you want to be treated, but it seems like everyone's just out for themselves. You don't see a lot of just nice people trying to do things these days. How no perfect person or any scene. But I mean, I can see past what's going on right now.

What these developers are doing, they’ll buy up two, three or four older houses that are perfectly good but they just – you know, and they tear them down, clear the lot and they put up a condo.

I see more property conversions from tearing down houses and adjoining lots and building up small apartment buildings. I see perhaps more condo development coming down the road and Roger Street's an example. I don't know if the city can afford to have that many more condos. The services that the city has to provide for condos has to be incredible. People see the services as electricity and water but sewage is a big thing. You drop a small town into a community that doesn't have sewage capacity, that's a major undertaking. All of those houses is a small town.

So the fact that the city is allowing – sure we need the economy to bring up, you know, like money into the city and stuff like that, we need people, but we’re forgetting about the marginalized people too. You can’t just have the rich folk come in and let them do what they want and forget about the marginalized people, it’s there’s no fairness in it.

And it feels like it’s a very capitalistic thing that they’re trying to do where it’s just the bottom line is the money, how much money can they make. And the city officials and other people are tending to forget that there are people. You know, it’s about community. Cities should be a community and they’re trying to break up these communities to make money.

In a country like Canada, this shouldn’t have to be an issue. This is a wealthy country. Nobody should be living on the streets. Nobody should be making those sacrifices with their apartments, you know, especially if they are working full time, if they’re giving back to the community because yeah, they deserve it. They’ve earned it. And to suddenly start saying to people you’re no longer worth that, why in this country are we doing that? It’s like you’re no longer worth having a place to call home. 

It’s a cultural shift that we need to be doing. It’s capitalism has run amuck. People’s salaries have stayed down while everything has gone up in price and it’s that has to be fixed where people are paid living wages for their areas so that they can afford to stay because it’s reaching a breaking point. There’s places there’s just nowhere else to go and then we’re supposed to be grateful when the government then says oh, we’re doing this thing where we’re helping house owners if they want to convert their basements into an apartment. And what middle-aged person who has a full-time job really wants to then just move into somebody’s basement after living in their own place? 

 

‘Us and Them’ Divides

Who’s benefiting from it? The advantage – or basically, advantaging the advantaged. So, now, I do understand that by having some of those other corporations and the like in there, there is more money that turns into the tax base, but I don’t know to what extent that is, really. Building, you know, condos going up where there used to be storefronts with people living in more affordable housing. As that gets evaporated – and as, you know, you must be aware of the, you know, that that’s been happening.

I can understand that the people – we used to call them Yuppies – the new generation. I don't know what they call the new generation. Yeah. But I can see them, you know, in their nice condos, nice, brand-new condos, that they don't want people, scraggy people. 

I mean you look at myself because I’m 60, I’ve lived here well pretty much since I was a teenager from probably the age of 12-13. I’ve seen like the city go from being old school to now like high tech. And again, what I was saying earlier like even people that are in their like senior years and stuff, they’re even getting pushed out because of the fact that it’s just like a downtown technical hub. People are just being bounced around. It’s unfortunate.

The rents for the businesses that they frequent are going to be such that they’re no longer there. So, there’s no reason for them to be there, one. Another is that the advantaged own everything.

… I know that if I had – if I had spent money on a really nice condo and I was more educated or whatever, going to school, had a good job, whatever, I would prefer not to have a lot – have to walk through a lot of homeless people downtown, or you know,... but those are the people that don't have anywhere to go. And it doesn't look so very nice. 

It’s all catered to the tech industry and people that have lived here all their lives, all that has been taken away from. They have no way to go to the grocery store, that used to be like two steps from their door. Now they have to take a bus to go grocery shopping, that kind of thing. 

I mean it’s increased quite a bit but still now everything else is increasing but the money aspect isn’t. Like I mean when we get like a percentage increase, it’s like 1 percent. So that amounts to maybe like $10 a month. Where’s $10 a month going to get you? This has been going on for years. And you have people that are on the top of the ladder, they’re getting like 10-15 percent. 

I've even heard from people that it's happening to them and they're not okay with it. Like they don't like being displaced. And just because of the wealthier people wanting better looking places to stay. And, with that kind of displacement, it more often than not, leads to homelessness. And there's been a rise of that, because of the displacement with these expensive condos and whatnot. And, not having the zoning for low income people in those buildings, kind of makes it difficult for people to find homes that they could actually afford.

No… I never heard talk about [gentrification] anybody because I don’t hang around that kind of middle class or whatever you want to call it, or high class. I just stick to my own class. And if I don’t see it then it doesn’t bother me. But there is probably – it is probably happening here too. I wouldn’t doubt it. And some people need to be pushed out and moved on and, you know, to change things.

And I’ve heard from other people too, the people who would live in these buildings and pay full rent how they would feel it’s not right if in some apartments they were subsidized. So if they’re paying full rent how dare another person come in and get away with paying half the rent.

I find there’s a lot of people moving in, but they brought a lot of immigrants, Muslims and everything in, eh? Well they help put the population up too. But I find that they come in but they find houses a lot quicker for them, and even the ones that have low rentals that can’t find a place on the bottom of the list. Why’s that, you know?

And I had applied probably within that year over at the housing, Ontario Housing, and my name’s been on the application, been on the application, been on the application. And so long short of the story is that Justin Trudeau, he started letting Syrians in. So the Syrians were getting all the low-income housing, which was not fair to the average Canadian citizen. So he decided to create a subsidy for people that were on the waiting list for a period of over five years, and I qualified.

I’m far from racist or whatever but when Trudeau two, three years ago when he let that 25,000 refugees into Canada, that’s taking away a lot of space for Canadian born citizens. That’s why there’s no more spaces anywhere because we have to—the province is subsidized their well-being but what about the everyday ordinary born Canadian? That’s gone down the toilet. Refugees have more rights than we do. It’s unfortunate to sit here and say that but it’s the truth. I mean okay, on one hand it’s nice to have someone from a war-torn country to come into our place but yet what about … help the people that are living here already instead of making, creating more havoc on the situation. 

Saving the Common Good 4/4

Lived Experience Expertise Saving the Common Good 4/4

Well people listening to people that have lived it, having our voices heard. The only way things are going to change, or people are going to see differently, is by hearing people that have lived it. Not a lot of people value our input, right.

So basically what I advocate for is the fact that people that have lived on the streets and that are homeless or have an addiction and mental health and rise above it have a lot of input and insight on what they’ve gone through and what the system is lacking. So I believe that people with lived experience have a lot of value and input and I just want others to recognize that we do have valuable input.

And I used to rely solely on disability before I got the job that I had and it was. Like it takes 80 to 90 percent of your disability cheque and then from there, it’s what do you do for groceries? Like at that time I didn’t have a car but then you still need a bus pass or something to get around. If anything comes up then you’re really left in a hole. Like even the things – because I have experience with poverty there’s a lot of things that people don’t understand. 

 

Using all the capacity in the community 

If people could live decently – like I spend my whole week out getting food – I go out in the morning and I’m not back until 5:00 in the afternoon because I’ve had to go to all these different places to get – you get six cans of something here, two cans – you know, whatever.If I wasn’t doing that, if I didn’t have to do that I could be doing something useful with my time.

If you don’t have a safe, secure place to live then it’s very hard to focus and work on anything else. So people who are struggling to keep roofs over their heads that’s their focus. They can’t focus on finding a good counsellor for them. They can’t focus on maybe going back to school and getting better job skills. They can’t focus on a lot of their regular needs because their primary focus is having a place to stay. And when you have that, when you have that stability, you’re able to contribute so much more to the community to work on yourself, to help others. 

I am, I have been lucky. I never had to be on the street and I don't think I could have survived on the street, because I don't have the smarts that a lot of those guys have, you know, I learned a lot of these things from living in the house of friendship and how they survive and, and I made a couple of friends there and there. I mean, a lot of them are good guys. There's a lot of strange guys do. I mean, that's all part of the job, part of the place, you know? But there's a lot of good men too. One man was a beautiful artist, one man had a beautiful voice. He’s singing with a guitar. I mean, no, it's just, it's sad that people see only as, I don’t know, I should say [inaudible] parasite on society, but that's how you are, that you're living off people and that cause you're homeless, you're not working and you're above me.

I mean, a lot of people will take a look at shelters and they'll say, "Oh what a bunch of drunks [inaudible] what a bunch of drug addicts, you know, the criminals, they're vagrants." We're not monsters. We're real people too. You know, we are just having a hard time, whatever it may be that got us there. Well, it's our own story, right?

I've been in many shelters, in many different cities, have battled with addiction and alcoholism, self-harm, whatever, anxiety, depression, the list can go on and on. But that doesn't mean I'm not competent. I'm not capable. I am, I'm intelligent. And when I put my mind to something, I can do it. I know I have a powerful voice and I can advocate for others and I can build myself back up. And that's what I've been doing this year.

I mean I just, I feel like more buildings like this should be created. I mean there's no reason why not. It's affordable. People can live on it. I mean they can truly live and thrive and better themselves... 

 

Poverty is there because we are creating it

Basically it would take almost a complete 180-degree switch in people’s attitudes towards poverty. Poverty could be eliminated. This is not – you know, we’re one of the richest countries on earth and there is no economic need for people to live like this. So it could be changed.

When they say affordable I say, “Affordable for whom?” No, it’s not something that – well I’ll discuss it with some of my more affluent friends just so that they know what it’s like. But generally, no, because ... you know, like it’s not a matter of discussing it, it should be a matter of changing it, you know.

We don't have the finances to live in condominiums. We need more affordable housing. I'm looking at so many places where we can build affordable, three-story walk-ups and we don't have them, you know, and we, we need, we need your help. Whoever you are listening right now. I mean, we can't do it alone. It takes courage to ask for help. I know that. And I mean, take a look at it from my point of view. Walk a day in my shoes. It's not always easy, but it's simple. We just need to put some money aside somehow. Something's got to change because I mean, everybody is being forced out of downtown because of lack of affordable housing. 

The scarcity of like not having a nice home they once had and things of that nature, just overall having to stress and anxiety and worry. I think anxiety and depression is becoming more and more on the rise. Not just with the working poor, I’m thinking even – you know, I’m pretty sure there’s some engineers that are doing very well and a lot of people in the industry, I’m pretty sure there’s lots of anxiety in that and stuff like that.

And I sometimes think, well with all that money that would be nice to go to, you know, these people have got all this money they could help somebody homeless…  I mean, they wouldn’t give them a condo, but maybe they could help some other places, you know, build an affordable apartment building or something, you know, just help someone, you know. But I mean, that's not the way, that's not the way life is, is all. It's all about money. But, but sometimes I think that the, you know, that would be a neat idea that you know that they spend hundred thousand dollars on this building. Maybe they could build one apartment for, for 20 people that get them off the street and, you know, have a safe place to live.

Like I’m sure there are very lovely apartments in basements and for students and stuff like when I was younger that was fine, but like if I have my family over now or you know, my niece is spending the night or something it’s not quite the same. And again, I’ve worked hard my entire life to get to where I’m at. At the end of it, people deserve to have a place that they can call home, a real apartment. 

 

Vision for Affordable Housing 

Um, ways to make it better. Let's see, make a bigger shelter. Um, maybe, and I mean this, this would create more jobs, which is wonderful for the region. You know, maybe even bring a drop in center that you can drop into overnight, you know, have a place where you might be able to even eat, take a shower, um, even earn your keep, help, clean it up, sweep whatever it might be. 

You go to the kitchen and you just see how many people come in [and they’re] homeless. When they get set up on, say, a house or even an old factory that’s closed up, and make rooms, put somebody out there for supervision, be somebody always there that – somebody so many hours there. Run the place, give everybody rooms to live in or apartments to live in. It’d be better than tearing it down, and build a big condo for everybody, right?

Well, I think that would work. I think that would work, because most people that you're going to put into a decent apartment are going to be decent people, even though they have no money. There's a lot of decent people out there that have no money – a lot. And but I know people that live at Conestoga Towers downtown on Queen Street. There's market rent and there's subsidised. And when you're in the building, you don't even know who's who. 

I don’t know, you see a lot of old – not old buildings, even like the Target store way up on Strasburg and Ottawa, that’s sitting empty; why can’t they turn that into something, you know. There’s got to be a way around all this.

The zoning bylaws changed so that we can build affordable housing units in places that we weren’t able to, in like communities that just have like residential living, but we want to put an apartment building there that’s affordable housing, right. Changing the zoning laws.

Across, like it shouldn’t be in this section the poor people live, you know, like the suburbs it’s all everyone’s segregated to a different area of the city, I don’t think we should be that way.

Like especially down King Street towards Kitchener, there are a lot of not fancy apartments, like the lower end apartments. They shouldn’t be forced to move just because they’re on the LRT. Like I don’t understand why it’s absolutely necessary to develop all of the land along the LRT. Like to me, that doesn’t make sense. Well, I just remember some units on King near where the McDonald’s was. I’m pretty sure the McDonald’s is still there. Or even like the Victoria, King Street intersection. My God, a lot of change has happened there. And I often wonder why there is such a push to complete the change, the feel and everything when it should be a mix. 

I know that’s not going to happen. I think if somehow it was just kind of mandated that if you’re tearing down an apartment building you have to replace it either by giving the residents in that building a unit at their current contracts or build another affordable housing unit nearby because you can’t just keep on taking from the pot and then not replace anything. So you put up an expensive luxury rental unit okay, fine, but then you also have to put up an affordable housing unit somewhere just to balance things out. 

They don’t have any because of the – well just not the condos, like okay, for example they’re making a building into a computer or technology or something, eh? And there’s lots of buildings that’s empty that they could have for computers and technology and leave the little sections of places for people to live. You could make apartments out of a lot of those factories, even rooms, you know? And have someone on supervision to watch the place and be there for them, maybe a social worker along with it or something, you know?