Sunday, December 20, 2009

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to One and All

2010 is just around the corner and we have all survived!

Not only have we here at 2100 survived but it is beginning to look like a decent place for the tenants to call 'Home' again! It's quiet more nights than it has been in years. The paint job is getting there and is already making us feel like human beings again. We continue to be blessed with great Maintenance men and a great troop of Security folk as well the guard at the South District Office and their fearless leaders both downtown and at the SDO.

We are still in the tunnel but the light at the end is getting brighter by the day! The only people who find themselves at a loss are the chronic grumblers. Oh well! They had their day to shine - 4 or 5 years really - and now that day has gone and the rest of us are quite happy that our day to shine is fast approaching (when the work is completed).

To everyone at OCH, and to Mr. Watson, Minister of Housing, who took the time to come when we asked, a big Thank You!

Please put your sound on to hear our card.

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Sunday, August 30, 2009

Minister of Housing comes calling

Friday, August 28, 2009

Jim Watson, Minister of Housing, came calling. Laurene Wagner (OCH) and David Loveridge (OCH), myself and another tenant, Lois joined him on a mini tour of 2100 Russell Road. We showed him the damages done by a few tenants, told him of the plans to fix them and asked him to change the regulations to the Act to enable OCH to control the types of people admitted. Clearly wide open policy has not worked. It has, in a few short years turned our building from a perfectly lovely spot to a slum dump.

Among the things Mr. Watson was shown were the walls with all the patched holes, mostly on the 4th floor, the carpets with the stains and cigarette burns, the ceilings with the tiles broken. He also got to see the parking lots, the courtyard and the back garden. David also opened up one of the vacant but ready to rent units so he could see that these are really very nice units in a very nice setting. Some tenants do not seem to appreciate it, but very few apartment blocks, private or public, come with the potentially beautiful grounds and the absolutely gigantic balconies that this one has. It was pointed out to the Minister, that the lovely shape the green areas are in is due to a lot of hard work by a handful of tenants as well as the lawn care done by Housing.

Mr. Watson was asked to speak to the Minister of Social Services about the people who use the system to get a roof and food money and then turn their apartments into crack houses and brothels - in effect enabling the criminal elements to carry on their illegal and disruptive little businesses. He was also asked to look into some sort of screening to ensure that drug addicts, hookers and other criminal elements are not put under the same roof as retired people, disabled people, children etc. He was also told of the problems encountered here when previously hospitalized mental patients are turned loose to fend for themselves without any care for what happens when they stop taking the medications that enable them to fit in and no discernible way to prevent them from falling into that trap.

Before he left, Mr. Watson was given a CD of pictures of the holes and other damages before the Maintenance crews patched them up. It is not as good a message as having him live here for a month or two would be but it is always better when someone in his position actually sees the damage than when they just rely on verbal descriptions.

He did promise to look into making changes to the Act to address some of these concerns. He also had suggestions and phone numbers of people who can help in the interim (I shall have him send them by email). He also said that this is a time consuming endeavour so not to be expecting instant changes.

The time allotted to us to get the message across to him was short - half an hour. I think we did a pretty good job - time will tell. He has, I am told, done some pretty decent work in the other Ministries that he has been involved in and our hopes are high that he will do just as well for us in this one.

The one area where the tenants here shine is the yard work! Hats off to everyone who has taken part this summer. Above is a picture of yours truly, picking up litter. I am with my chief boss, Bambi and she is one slave driver, if ever there was one! Since we started this 'keep the outdoor areas tidy' campaign, lots of people have done things to help - some major efforts, some small. Even the small efforts are worthy of doing again - like those who make an effort to put their trash in a bin instead of on the ground and those who use the butt tins for their cigarette butts. We have tried to keep a butt tin at door one but some mental midget keeps removing it. We will keep trying. :o)

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Catch Up Time

There have been a lot of things going on and I have gotten behind with the blog. Gave myself 10 lashes with a wet spaghetti noodle. Worked too! I am back with a catch up blog!

Early in August, the Volunteer dragon slayers who signed up at the earlier, bigger evening meeting, got together a couple of times with with Housing and ACORN. The long story made very short is that the manner and direction of the next big meeting was laid out. The dragon Slayer threw a rare temper tantrum with people who get off focus and with members who bring children to meetings. The more tactful Shaun from Housing calmed the waters BUT retaining your focus is essential and children do not belong in war rooms (or in this case in these meetings.) It is unfair to them and it is unfair to those who seriously are trying to accomplish things.

My Rent! My Vote! Campaign

August 11th saw some of us from 2100 Russell Road picketing along with other ACORN members picketing for changes in the rules for Landlords. The picture at the top is of our very own Sheila and another ACORN member, Kat. Perhaps some of you saw others from 2100 in the CTV news that evening. It is perhaps good for those of us in Ottawa Housing units to know life could be a good deal worse - We could be living in some of the privately owned and run low cost housing which is really, really, really bad! In fact, I would urge those among us here who spend their days whining and complaining about Housing to Join ACORN and talk to some of the unfortunate folks who have found themselves living in some of the worst of these places. A little appreciation for what we have in our Government run places would probably be a good thing to have. Meeting some of the ACORN members who live in Transglobal units, for example, can't help but make you appreciate this place.

So - ACORN is working on a campaign to get these slum landlords to clean up their act and asking the powers that be in both levels of government to require licensing and standards and rules. The incentive we offer is our vote. Costs you nothing but a few minutes and a good reason. This is your good reason! Politicians who really want their seats should sit up and pay attention. There are a lot of poor people with votes. And those votes, if we use them and use them wisely, can be the difference between being put upon, put down, held down - what ever phrase applies to you - and being a winner with a decent home and with your self respect in tact.

I have preprinted postcards you can send to the Councilman, Mr. Hume in this regard, or, if I get enough of them, I will hand deliver them.

Do we really need to be calling the police on each other??

One would hope not but some people make NOT calling or not complaining to Housing, very difficult indeed!

One of the things in the lease you signed as a tenant was:
The Tenant agrees:
To respect the privacy, security and peace of other tenants and to ensure that all members of the household and any guests behave in the same way.

This is a part of a legal agreement that you signed. Strictly speaking, you can be evicted legally for breaking it and many private landlords do just that. Ottawa Housing is way more lenient with most occurrences. Some tenants here break this agreement daily!

One day last week the police were called. For the better part of an hour one tenant yelled at the top of her lungs, using every dirty word she could find (mostly the F word) and issuing threats to one or more other tenants in the courtyard. I did not see it myself but I most certainly did hear it as did anyone living in a unit that faces the courtyard who was home at the time. I have been told that she was heard on the other side of the building at the door 2 entrance as well. Another tenant (unfortunately one with a short fuse herself) tried to shut the instigator up. Not a good plan! Now the second person has lowered themselves to the same low level of the first and is just as guilty of breaking their lease as the first. Better to call security or the police. Because threats were made, the police are the best choice. Besides, if security knows threats of bodily harm have been issued, they will tell you to call the police.

The roof over your head depends on you and your behaviour. Ottawa Housing is not your Mother and 2100 Russell is not a hospital! You are adults! You are expected to keep a handle on your temper and a rein on your tongue. If you drink and cannot control yourself when you do, then perhaps it is time to see the folks at AA - before you find yourself out on the street. If you cannot control your temper, then it is time to get help and help is available. Your social worker or your GP should be able to put you in touch with someone who will help you with anger management.

This is not about me and how offended I am. It is about you and protecting the roof over your head. And if you eventually do get booted out on the street, it is not about me and the other tenants you failed to respect. It is really about the lack of respect you have for yourself. Only you can fix that!

In the meantime, expect to have other tenants call the security and/or police when you do not respect your fellow tenants by keeping the noise down, your vocabulary tidier and your level of respect a good deal higher. If any tenant wants a list of the police call numbers, they are yours to take from the bulletin board (when our resident thief does not rip them off for something to do - now he is one sad dude! And he, too, is looking to get a one way pass to a home under a bridge.)

I am so late with this blog, I am going to sentence myself to 10 more lashes with that wet noodle and do more updating with the next blog, coming soon!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Housing Consult - July 27, 2009 and Misc. Notes

Monday evening, two of us from 2100 Russell Road, myself and Sheila, attended the Housing Consult with the Minister of Housing, The Honourable Jim Watson. We were there with other members of ACORN. More people showed up than the Minister anticipated I think - they ended up putting a tent up in the parking lot to accommodate the overflow. We each sat at a different table of 8 people - this gave us an opportunity to meet other people and hear their thoughts and discuss those thoughts more thoroughly. It also exposed us to other Housing types and problems - a bit of a surprise though it shouldn't be, but we do tend to get involved with our own problems and forget that there are others with their own problems.

Ottawa Housing's Jo-Anne Poirier introduced the Minister after which she and her right hand gal, Laurene Wagner, moved around the room meeting the participants and getting a feel for the various concerns.

There were 5 questions and each table was given a question to discuss. After the discussion, a person we chose as spokesperson, passed our concerns on to the Minister and the rest of the room. Not surprisingly, our concerns here at 2100 came up to one degree or another at each table. So The Minister knows. Now let's see what he will do.

'Screening' was pretty well shot down as being too much of a hot political potato - well that's my take on it anyway. The good news is that there were suggestions made that were a tad different but would have the same outcome - less problems, more security.

Active drug addicts, vandalism, people with mental problems but no in-house supervision or support were among the problems that were discussed. A better way of addressing those problems along with some suggestions as well as more or better security were high on the list of things put to the Minister to do something about. Also discussed were ways for people to move up and out and into a more personal type of housing situation whenever it was possible and appropriate for them.

An item that came up that I know will be of interest to some tenants here is habit of government agencies of giving with one hand and taking away with the other. It was pointed out to the Minister that it is counter productive and discourages people who really want to move upwards. We do sincerely hope he noted that and will do something constructive about it.

Jenn from Ottawa Child/Youth Housing Advocacy Initiative (OCHAI) was at my table. She is putting together a summary and will send it to me. I will pass the high points along to you.

I have invited the Minister here for tea and a tour. When I wrote the Federal Minister a while back, it took him a year to respond. I guess I should be grateful that he answered at all. However this is a different level of government and a different person so, while I would not advise you to hold your breath, I would not, at this point in time, say he will ignore us either. Stay tuned.

Miscellaneous Notes

1. Last night I noticed that the Door #4 parking lot was well lit up. I'm not sure if they just changed the light bulbs or if they redirected the lights or what. But it should discourage some of those little vandals that have been tormenting us here. Thanks OHC for doing that!

2. For those of you who put your names down as volunteers, there will be another get together with Housing on August 6, 2009 at 9:00 a.m. Try to keep in mind that these meetings are intended to solve communal problems, not individual ones. Let's keep it a discussion and not a monologue. Also, it is very difficult to both hear and think if there are little children running around. Please find someone to look after the little ones and leave them at home. Meetings with Housing are not an appropriate place to drag little children.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Moving Right Along!

Well, it has been a busy couple of weeks.

July 16, 2009 Meeting

ACORN, Ottawa Housing and a large number (for us) of tenants showed up. Both 2100 and 2080 were represented. ACORN sent Jessica and Matt, two very active ACORN members and Sue from Ledbury came. Ottawa Housing was represented by the C.E.O., Jo-Anne Poirier, Director of South District, David Loveridge and Marion Dunning, Building Manager.

The Opening was not planned - it started off with Sirens, thanks to our resident Dunce - the dude who thinks that pulling the fire alarm is fun. If he had any thought that pulling the alarm was going to end our meeting, he was sadly mistaken. I am sure he did not intend to help any of us but the alarm going off at 4:00 p.m. on the nose, actually did help us. Jo-Anne, David and Marion saw and heard first hand what we have been experiencing for months. Fooled him though. They were not to be here until 4:15 p.m. so they just got the tail end of it.

Initially the plan was to take Jo-Anne, David and Marion on a little tour of the first floor. Show them the poorly lit parking lot at door 4 and the car that was vandalized there. Bring them in past the huge hole still in the wall between the doors, along the filthy carpets marked up by dirty footprints, stains put there by people dropping drinks, people letting their dogs pee and indeed, people peeing on the carpets themselves. We would have pointed out the holes put there by the Hole Puncher Dunce and the holes put there by people with carts who do not care if they run into the walls or not. We'd have brought them past the mail room with it's deliberately broken mail boxes and the vandalized coke machine. They would have seen first hand what a handful of non-screened tenants and their visitors have done to this once lovely building. But that never happened, thanks to the fire alarm.

My plan to chair the meeting was vetoed by ACORN. Their meetings are usually informal but members are respectful of each other so it works. Appears respect stayed away from our meeting though. The plan for Sue to tell us about how Ledbury was changed from the hell hole it was to the very pleasant project it is today was loudly put down by a handful of nay-sayers. A couple or three of them took over the meeting and filled it with their own personal problems. A sort of fillibuster, if you will. In spite of them, a few others did manage to get themselves heard.
If you were one of that few, you were heard!

It ended very uncivilly with a few using the F word as often as they could - not exactly a sign of high intelligence. And yelling. Again, not too swift! Those that did that did not garner any respect, just disgust. Unfortunately, the ones who are reading this blog probably do not need to be told this, but you get more flies with honey than with vinegar. I know the yellers and cursers did manage to convince a few people that some people living here probably do belong on the street and living under a bridge so that little demonstration was counter productive, wasn't it?

ACORN have been very successful with their Work Order campaigns. They tried to get that off the ground here too. Only a handful of people filled them in however. A shame really! That was a way for you to be heard but most passed that opportunity up. And with the W.O. you could have put your personal gripes about Maintenance etc. W.O.s that were filled out were passed along to Housing.

For anyone who wanted to listen but who couldn't hear, Jo-Anne did say, if you have a problem with security and/or Maintenance, call them. They do not know what the problems are if you do not tell them in the first place. If you have to call them several times, call them several times. Their voice mail works all night.

For those few who think that Housing should run around behind you cleaning up after you, here's a news flash from me to you. They are your Landlord, not your Mother and if you are old enough to sign a lease, then you are old enough to behave like adults. Adults clean up after themselves.

Oh yeah! Let me be the first to tell you that we have a genius in the building. Sometime after Thursday afternoon this genius stole all our ashtrays and broke the seat of our swing in the garden.

Oops! I am wrong. A genius is supposed to have an IQ that is higher than the total of fingers and toes on his body. If I read this IQ chart correctly, he is really just a slug.

I'll be back with the second meeting notes, so stay tuned :o)

Monday, June 15, 2009

Yard Work

As you can see, a fair number of people have worked on the various green plots around 2100. And there were people who worked on it that I never got on film. So heads up those of you who didn't or couldn't help. Try to keep it clean. Most of the workers are either seniors or disabled in some way or other or are not even tenants, but friends of tenants. If you clean your car out - there is a garbage drop near each door so walk it over there and do not dump it on the ground. If you smoke, there are ash cans to put your butts in. And if you are one of those who litter just 'to show us", well you have shown us that you are ignorant and lazy and probably mentally challenged - smart people don't do that! Now surely you can show us something a tad more positive about yourself.

Those of you thinking, "Karen screwed up putting a bunny in the list - I didn't screw up! This little fellow was very busy trying to eat the wild clover to get it out of our way and he is a quiet, very well behaved visitor who comes often to 2100 to add a little class to the place. :o)

One way or another, we are beginning to acquire some tools and there are a couple of little sheds where we can keep them locked up. Of late, it appears that there are a few personality issues getting in the way. Come on Folks! There is enough work to go around and the courtyard, garden and rest spots at the doors belong to everyone who lives here. There is no room for personality and/or control squabbling. Still those sheds have locks and who will hold the keys appears to have become a problem. Can we not agree to share the tools when they are needed? How about one set of keys stays with the President of the Tenants Association and another set with someone else and can we not agree to handle these tools with respect and to return them to the shed they belong in.

And it seems logical that gardening tools belong near the garden; the others at the courtyard. This will make it possible for someone needing something to know where to find it instead of having to run between sheds looking. The hoses for both the Courtyard and the door #3 garden should stay where they are. There is another hose that I got from the freecycle folks and it can be the one to be moved when one is needed at doors 1 and 4 or as an extra in the other two spots. I also think we can get a little cupboard or set of shelves from freecycle to keep the smaller items in. The logical place would be where the one was when Marcel was here - by the table at door 3.

This used to be a very nice building. We unfortunately have experienced some very evil type tenants. BUT, if we work as a team, we can make it a nice place again. To do that, all the personal needs for attention and control and bullying others in order to get those things has to cease. I am sure you have all heard that when everyone is a Chief, there are no Indians and it is the Indians who get things done. So let's all try to be a team of Indians and not a bunch of warring Chiefs.

To every person who helped with the clean up and to those who continue to keep it cleaned up, Hats off to you all.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Door 3

Since the last post, Housing has come over and cleaned up the heap of asphalt. Thanks OHC.

The Courtyard

Five seconds ago Madelaine came and got bags for some of the tenants who are cleaning up. The leaves in the court yard near the lounge will be history before you get his blog. Thanks guys! And thanks to Madelaine - At her own expense she planted some flowers near the little church in the court yard. Now if we can get the squirrels to leave them alone..............

The Parking lot near Door 2

Thanks to Pat and Frank, the front is clean. They might be seniors and they might not be in the best of health but they are good tenants who do their share to keep our home as tidy they can. Not a mean feat when one considers the wind in the area and the few badly behaved tenants who think the rest of the tenants are their own personal maid service and throw their garbage on the ground - even when they are standing right beside a garbage can.

Pat and Frank - you guys are real gems!

Housing - you really do need to put 'house broken' on your list of criteria for getting an apartment here.

Speaking of broken

The doors to this building are all in various stages of broken. Unless someone wants to go back to when this building was erected to get their pound of flesh from the original builders, trying to get a pound of flesh from tenants who find themselves on the wrong side of a stuck door is pretty low. It is not Housing's fault and it is not all the tenant's fault. The building is sinking and it does not take a rocket scientist, or in this case, an engineer, to know that sinking puts mechanical fixtures out of order. And it has done this to our four doors. Sometimes they stick and won't open. I could be wrong but I don't think so but the sinking is also the reason for the cracks that are constantly happening on that side of the complex. Me thinks you need an engineer to find a way to stop it or slow it down if, in fact, that is even possible or economic.

Right now there is a rumour going around that one of the seniors here has been fined for shaking the door when it would not open. I sure hope it is just a rumour. Particularly since we are getting very little justice with our tenant complaints. Well maybe we are and maybe we are not but since Housing people like to hide behind the word "Confidential" we don't really know. You folks at Housing really need to learn the difference between 'confidential' and 'secret' and secrecy is never good outside of war zones and wartime espionage. If someone has been caught for trashing our building, we have a right to know and arrest is a public thing - nothing confidential about it. If they have not been arrested, then we do not have justice. In which case, how about an update. Either way, since the complaint about the trashing is ours and maybe yours, we really need to know that something is being done.

If the above about the senior and the door is rumour, then something needs to be done to put it to sleep. There is already way too much hate and distrust without rumours creating more. If it is not a rumour then I think we should know why this particular incident has gotten action but our complaints, some which go back four and five years, have apparently been ignored. Tenants are not cars on an assembly line. They are people with feelings. If your luck takes a nose dive, they could be you. Not all of us are here because it was planned this way.

And it is easy to update us. Just respond on this blog and I will see that it is posted on the board and in the lounge.