I just got word that the City of Toronto is proposing to sell several Toronto Community Housing buildings, all the ones in my neighbourhood in fact, as a short-term money-raising scheme.
I just sent a letter to the CEO and another committe member, and this is what it says...in case anyone else wants to send a letter too, opposing the idea:
Dear Sir and Madam:
I am a long-time resident of Henry Street. I moved onto the street as a tenant in 1983 and .. I have been a home-owner on Henry Street since 1984. I raised my children on the street, sent them to the local pubic school and to University Settlement House for after-school programs (and now they are at the University of Toronto), and I am a customer at many of the businesses on Baldwin Street.
All of this is to say that I am anchored in this community and I know my neighbours and my neighbourhood.
The proposal that Hydro Block and the houses on Beverley-Dundas currently operated by Toronto Community Housing be sold is expensive and short-sighted. All studies confirm my experience here, which is that mixed neighbourhoods, made up of people of many backgrounds and from many layers of the socio-economic spectrum, are healthier and cost less in all kinds of ways, than separate homogeneous enclaves of the wealthier and the less well-off.
My children went to school with kids from Hydro Block and the Beverley community, and that was good for all parties. There's a social cohesiveness to an integrated neighbourhood that produces peaceful community, reduces violence, and makes schools productive and again lower-cost.
The proposal that a one-time sale, and hence a one-time cash-in, of these properties is good for the city is, frankly, ridiculous. It will raise social tensions, as people lose their housing, and it will create ghettos where we now have integrated communities.
We know from some of the ghetto-like enclaves in the suburbs that such social isolation leads to violent crime, high drop-out rates in the schools, and much higher costs in terms of policing and other security issues. But the highest cost of all is the human cost.
People of all walks of life should continue to be entitled to live downtown, with easy access to all that is there. The handicapped
people who live on the top floor of the Hydro Block are especially in need of housing that is easily accessible to shopping and transit, but so are the families that now thrive in the Beverley-Dundas houses.
The Hydro Block, and the Beverley-Dundas houses are a model of how the city should be handling low income housing. And the neighbourhood is a model of lively safe streets, productive schools, and flourishing community.
Please vote against any proposal that includes the sale of Toronto Community Housing. It's an expensive and short-sighted measure. It may be designed to raise revenue, but it will in fact do the reverse, for it will have a huge price tag: both money costs (to be born by taxpayers) and human costs (to be born by those least able to defend themselves).
Thank-you for taking the long view, rather than grabbing at short-term band-aids.
I'll let you know how it goes.