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LETTER: Social housing safety concerns create 'toxic environment'

'We want our right to a peaceful environment upheld,' says reader
2022-05-17 typing pexels-donatello-trisolino-1375261
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GuelphToday received the following letter to the editor from Michelle Fitt who says she no longer feels safe in her own home. To submit a letter to the editor, please click here. The letter was also sent to Guelph's mayor and MPP.

I currently live in social housing on Waterloo Ave. in Guelph and have been here for five years.

In the past six weeks our community has had two police raids that included the Guelph Police Tactical Unit and one homicide. The police raids have included the use of fire alarms being set off and allowed to ring for 45 minutes or more at 3 a.m. Apartment doors have been broken down with battering rams by the tactical squad, followed by armed police. Smoke bombs have been deployed by police in the hallways as a tactical measure.

The evening of the homicide was horrific: the light outside my apartment was red from all the emergency vehicles; neighbours were shocked and upset. The bloody scene was taped off and left for days as police collected evidence.

Our community of elderly women, physically and/or mentally challenged adults and other vulnerable people has been traumatized. Not one social service agency attended to the immediate needs of our community members. Victim Services were not deployed and there were no candle light vigils.

On Friday, Sept. 22, housing officials and two police officers attended a meeting with tenants to discuss these events and the safety of the residents. Several residents were not able to attend because of the trauma they experienced; they no longer feel safe in their home. Indeed, housing employees have had minimal presence on the property due to safety concerns.

Residents requested an increased presence of security guards, better lighting, better fencing around the property, security cameras, and an open invitation to all those in attendance to come and live here for two months.

The only concrete step that was promised is a survey.

With all due respect, we do not want a survey.

We want our right to a peaceful environment upheld. We want an expedited system of evicting people involved in criminal activity. We want people who live here to be good neighbours. You cannot drop people who have complex mental health needs into a community without supporting these individuals.

The current system has produced this toxic environment. Perhaps engaging with the residents and committing to improving these conditions would be a good first step.

Michelle Fitt, Guelph