By: Paula Brown and Raven Smith
Ward 7 candidates continue to debate the state of affordable housing in the Humber River Black Creek district.
“We need to build more affordable housing, there is no question about that,” said long time Coun. Anthony Perruzza.
Perruzza and other candidates continue to advocate for affordable housing while his council colleague Coun. Giorgio Mammoliti says he wants to tear down existing housing units. Premier Doug Ford introduced Bill 5 early this year, reducing council wards to 25. Perruzza and Mammoliti were both councillors for the previous York West Wards 7 and 8.
Improving social housing has been a large focus in the Humber River Black Creek riding, and an issue across the city.
“Access to affordable housing is a big need because as housing prices continue to escalate and as rents continue to be driven up, affordability and basic human needs like housing is becoming more out of reach for a great many people,” said Perruzza.
Residents of Firgrove Cres., a community in the Ward 7 area, know all too well what happens when housing is put on the back burner.
Firgrove residents were notified in December 2016 that their units would need to be renovated. Tenants were notified a year later that the building’s foundation and structure was far too damaged and could not be repaired. Residents were moved out in 2017 and relocated across the city, so the houses could be demolished.
Now in 2018, the demolition is at a standstill as Toronto Community Housing submits its application to the city. In the meantime, residents have been consulted about the revitalization project and the design concept of the new Firgrove Crescent once the application is approved.
“Many of those families were displaced and relocated to different parts of the City of Toronto,” said candidate Amanda Coombs. “This is something that many residents are living in fear of right now.”
Coun. Giorgio Mammoliti advertised in Sept. that he would be knocking down social housing in the area. Mammoliti is photographed in the ad holding a sledgehammer in front of a social housing unit with the words “Saving our community begins with knocking down social housing.”
Mammoliti’s campaign manager Gabriel Spoletini said that the advertisement was about Firgrove community, but the picture in the advertisement was of a different social housing complex.
How dare he [Mammoliti]?,” said Shabon Johnson a resident who lives in the Driftwood area. “So because I’m low income I don’t deserve to live here?”
“When you knock it down where am I going to go? How am I going to make a life for my kids? Look how much good comes out of here [the neighborhood] and you’re talking about knocking it down within six months of being elected.”
Perruzza when asked about Mammoliti’s approach said,
“I think what comes from the Mammoliti approach is disastrous for people in need of affordable housing. Just simply knocking down affordable housing and simply turning those lands over to private developers for high density development is not the answer.”
Spoletini has said that Mammoliti wants city legislation changed due to the crime that happens around the area.
“Right now, the crime that happens in this area, they’re all coming from the majority from the social housing,” said Spoletini.
“As a resident I love where I live. I love my community. There’s a lot of productive people in my community,” said Johnson.