Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The Fine Art of Communicating

Q: What's the difference between a landlord and a terrorist?
A: You can negotiate with a terrorist.

I really thought that having a non-communicative landlord was just an Ottawa Housing Problem. Having searched the web for a short time, I see it is not. Depending on the search words used, it is possible to get as many as 5,410,000 places to look. Seems like we have a lot of company!

At the end of last year I thought I could communicate with Ottawa Housing. They gave me every reason to believe I could. I even got an appointment with the CEO. And indeed, she and the head of this quadrant I live in, showed up and we talked. Quite civilly too! We talked about the mess this place had become, the addicts that terrorized the rest of us, the ways they terrorized us etc. A meeting was set up with them for the tenants at our building and our neighbouring building. I sincerely thought it would be to discuss the ways of dealing with the criminal element in our midst and the security measures that would work. Instead, they talked about bugs - not a problem in this building generally speaking. So I guess my first suggestion would be to pick a topic that is of interest to the tenants being addressed.

We did get to scratch the surface of the security problems. Housing made mention of cameras being installed in a few crucial spots to catch the bad guys in the act of destroying our building. Three weeks later, we still do not know anything more about cameras, if they will be in fact, put in or not. The other tenants, most with more experience with OHC than I have, are throwing their arms in the air and saying, "See! We told you nothing would be done!"

We do have cameras at the doors - different cameras designed for a different purpose. We can see who is at the door by turning on the TV to a station just for those cameras - closed circuit TV. For close to three months they were out of order. Some tenants, getting a tad annoyed that our calls to Maintenance were being ignored, went door to door to get signatures on a petition to get them fixed. In a very short time, they were fixed. Ah! The power of numbers!!

All is well in that area? Well, not entirely. Rumour has it - I did not hear this myself - that the Building Manager came over and took a strip - well tried to anyway - off the President of our Tenant Association about the petition. This is not quite what we have in mind when we talk about communicating.

When we complain about the destruction, theft and fear tactics we are told Housing is looking into it. When asked where things stand we are told "it is confidential". Sounds to most of us like a fancy way of saying, "Nothing". And so far most of us have been right. The same people are destroying things, stealing from us and OHC and generally putting fear into most everyone but especially the seniors. Little children are housed here now and we are still finding needles and drug paraphernalia lying around. Small wonder people here are fed up, have given up hope in the system and feel that the bad guys get all the protection while the good guys get none.

And that legal document we all had to sign when we moved in here - our lease - it is apparently not worth the paper it is written on. It certainly is not acted on in any visible way - barring the item about non payment - that one is always acted on.

Well our chat is over. Our meeting is over. And judging by the silence from Housing, so are any efforts to help us out. A letter with the plans to do this or that would sure make us feel better. Oh yeah! That's communications. Silly me! Thinking that Housing would communicate! Perhaps they are mad that the newspapers were contacted. To that I can only say, the track record of past issues brought to Housing pretty well says that for the media they will do something when for us they don't.

However, just in case anyone from Housing bothers to read this, here is an offer. You come up with a plan to rein in the bad guys - the active drug addicts. Write it in a letter and I will personally deliver one to each door in this building.

If you cannot give us some hope and some help, then............................

Shame on you Ottawa Housing Corporation!
Shame on you Ottawa! Shame on you, Ontario!

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