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)