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BEHIND THE SCENES: Carden tenants face homelessness

GuelphToday reporter Taylor Pace takes us behind the scenes

With their impending eviction date looming and nowhere else to turn, a sense of abandonment has settled among several tenants residing at 90 Carden St.

The upheaval began when the 90 Carden building, which includes the Stationview Apartments, was sold to a new owner in late June for a staggering sum exceeding $8 million. Eviction notices and buyout offers were dispatched to tenants, leading to the departure of most, while those who remain must vacate by the end of September.

Lettie Jones, a resident of a second-floor apartment for the past seven years alongside her husband Wayne Matthews and their children, Cyrus and Isis, expresses a sense of desperation: "I’m not sure what to do. Nobody listens, nobody wants to help. Nobody even acknowledges we’re existing in that building." She underscores that their presence there stems from financial constraints rather than choice and has been marred by hardship.

Upon learning about the building's sale, Jones contacted their case worker to inquire about their status on the centralized housing waitlist. After seven years on the list, they were informed of at least another three-year wait. Yet, with less than two months left before their eviction, their options are grim due to financial limitations associated with ODSP (Ontario Disability Support Program).

Jones reveals that affordable housing in the area is scarce, noting that the Stationview Apartments offer some of the lowest rents ranging from $560 to $1,050. Mark Poste, director of housing for the County of Wellington, acknowledges the challenges: "Trying to find similar rents in the community is not easily attainable."

The building, which comprises 50 units, presently houses approximately 23 residents. However, the situation is far from simple, as occupants face an uncertain future and limited alternatives.

The plight of the Jones family is mirrored in that of other tenants. Beverly St. Laurent, a 60-year-old resident on the first floor, reflects on the difficulties of finding affordable housing on ODSP and the inability to accept eviction payouts. She has been advised to consider moving into a retirement home temporarily, an option she finds disheartening considering her age and the prospect of further displacement.

While the new owner is facing a challenging situation in dealing with the building's condition and its history of illicit activities, tenants like Lettie Jones and Beverly St. Laurent emphasize that there is a fundamental need to ensure that vulnerable individuals are not forgotten amid these circumstances.

Mark Poste and his team are actively working to accommodate the affected individuals on various waitlists and support services, but they acknowledge the complexities and capacity limitations of the system.

As the clock ticks towards their eviction, the tenants of 90 Carden St. are left grappling with uncertainty and the pressing need for solutions. Their stories highlight the broader challenges facing those caught in the crosshairs of housing instability and financial constraints.

Video Summary:

The recent sale of a building at 90 Carden St. in Guelph has triggered eviction notices for its residents, sparking concerns about their housing options. The previous owner, who held the property for 15 years, decided to sell due to disinterest in property ownership. However, the building is in poor condition, plagued by bugs and extensive damage, prompting a new buyer, a numbered corporation, to purchase it for $8 million in June. Given the need for substantial renovations, all residents must vacate, raising questions about the lack of viable alternatives and the need for more support from housing and outreach services.

While the decision to renovate the building is understood, the challenge lies in the limited choices available for the displaced residents. Outreach and housing services have been working to develop a plan, but with over 50 low-income tenants, each with complex needs, finding suitable housing is proving difficult. The waitlist for affordable housing is extensive, and some residents have been on it for up to seven years, facing another three-year wait. With the average price of a one-bedroom unit in Guelph exceeding $2000, the affordability gap is insurmountable for many, particularly those on ODSP (Ontario Disability Support Program).

The plight of these residents showcases the broader issue of housing affordability and the difficulties faced by low-income individuals in securing adequate housing. The lack of suitable options, coupled with financial constraints and the impact on their ODSP payments, further exacerbates the challenges they are confronting.