featured Poverty

“You just don’t do this to people.” Good and bad news for Spryfield public housing tenants

KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) – There is both bad news and good news for residents of the Spryfield Greystone Drive area. The residents are tenants of the Metropolitan Regional Housing Authority (MRHA).

The MRHA, one of five Housing Authorities in Nova Scotia, is part of Housing Nova Scotia,  a provincial government corporation, with the Minister of Community Services in charge.

Let’s talk about the bad news first.

Mice are back in force in the three units that attracted quite a bit of press coverage after the Nova Scotia Advocate first reported on the huge rodent infestation.

The MRHA started repairs to the three units in April, but these have not yet been completed.

And at a meeting with tenants in early April MRHA committed to a preventative assessment of all 250 Greystone units within two months, but tenants have not seen much evidence of it.

Meanwhile it is becoming apparent that rodents are not an isolated problem in the community.

Jodi Brown, one of the affected tenants, has been doing a lot of door knocking and talking to neighbours lately, and she believes the rodent problem is touching most MRHA tenants in the neighborhood.

IMG_8758
Tenants and ACORN activists after their meeting with MRHA in early April. Jodi Brown is on the far right.

“I met this lady, I was in her house, she has four kids and a clean home, very clean and tidy, but she has rats,” says Brown. “And she has bedbugs. They sprayed her house. It didn’t help, because there are holes in the walls between the units.”

Other tenants have birds nesting in their attic, Brown says.

“What about a program that has a contractor go out and inspect all the vents, and put screens in,” Brown wonders.

“This is simple, this is about basic human rights,” says Brown. “You just don’t do this to people, it’s that plain and simple.”

The assessment is happening, MRHA and Community Services spokesperson Heather Fairbairn says in an email, and it is targeted for completion by June 30th.

While the assessment is underway, our pest control contractor is working to address issues of immediate concern and work orders have also been issued to address weaknesses in the building envelopes in all Greystone units, such as gaps around doors, crawl space and attic vents where infiltration can occur.”

In addition, we are working to install community disposal bins to address issues with waste attracting unwanted pests,” writes Fairbairn.

After years of neglect Brown is sceptical.

“They are supposed to do a lot of things, but nothing is getting done,” says Brown. “They don’t have the manpower to carry out the work, and they’re not organized to get anything done.”

“After all the publicity they said my house would be fixed right away. Well, they started, but it is still not completed, and we’re almost into June now.”

There is no cloud so dark or it has a silver lining. Some good things are happening in the Greystone neighborhood.

This is to a large extent because the press coverage energized a community that recognized that things will only get better when it takes charge.

Plans to create a laundromat, and a community store are in the works. A space has been offered up, says Brown.

There is also talk about offering recreation programs for teenagers and younger kids, provide homework support and tutoring, and energizing the local food bank, which has been struggling by some accounts.

A Tenants’ Board is in place, registered at Joint Stocks, to guide the new initiatives along.

“There are five of us on the Board, and we have the support of community policing and the MRHA, and we have volunteers waiting in the wing,” says Brown.

Brown expects that the Board will also become a way to keep the pressure on MRHA to meet its commitments to make the Greystone public housing healthy and livable rather than rodent-plagued and in constant need of repairs.

That will remain an uphill battle, Brown fears.

“The very simple math is that 30 staff to maintain 4,500 units (in all of HRM) is not enough,” Brown says.

 

See also: Metro Housing Authority to tenants: ” we will try to do better.”

Mice everywhere. Spryfield public housing tenants fight government inaction

5 Comments

  1. My daughter and grandchildren are one of the tenants living with rats.. She has now had to throw out we living room furniture because the rats made a nest in it.. Her and her children are always sick, all on inhalers now.. And no not just 1 rats she is now at a total of 4-5 rats caught and more in her crawl space, where the rats think it’s a great place to take up residence because it’s nice and damp as her dryer vent is being exhausted in the crawl space of her home instead of outside.
    I am a resident manager of 12 buildings in spryfield and work very closely with a pest control company and they have supplied me with bait traps for my daughters home (outside) because the pest control company that housing is using didn’t supply them like they should have.. I know the ins and outs of the tenancy act and I’m about done dealing with the crappy land lording that Halifax Housing is doing..
    Time to get your act together guys!!!
    Just because it’s low income housing doesn’t mean your tenants have to live in trashy units.. I almost think these poor people would have better living standards living in cardboard boxes and that saddens me to say!!!

    Reply
  2. my floor by my back door has a hole and a hole in my wall do to rats not mice and all housing did was fill it in with foam every night I here the rats trying to come through,but instead of fixing the holes they use foam….. housing is very lazy my dog killed two rats in less then a week

    Reply
  3. I am absolutely saddened and apalled by the article I have just read. The state of these (units) sound for lack of better words “disgusting”. Rats who have found refuge in the homes of people are causing many potentially harmful things. I know many of the tenants who call greystone home, have small children and pets, all of who are in danger of becoming not only BITTEN, but contracting many of the illnesses and disease these rodents carry. The government (MRHA) need to make this a top priority to find a solution for these families immediately. The 5 procrastinating fools that sit on the board need to get their s&%$ together, or resign their positions to allow new members to get their job done. It saddens me to say that I hope all of those families who are directly affected by this have had their tetnis shots. I also believe that any property ie. Clothes, furniture that have been damaged should be replaced by a full reimbursement from the (MRHA). Shame this is happening to so many families. Shame on the government.

    Angry and blown away.

    Candice perry

    Reply
  4. I have moved to Greystone 1 year ago on this may 28th and when before I moved in I had asked and really stressed the fact that I must know if the unit had ever had bedbugs before and the property manager told me my unit had never had bedbugs before. So I signed the lease. The first night I was moved in there was bedbugs ! I then got blamed; told that I obviously had them and brought them from my last apt. I then offered a phone number for my last Apts building manager if they wish to call them to find out that there were no bedbugs in the previous building I lived. Then they said what moving company did you use? Well you must have caught them from the moving truck. Excuses excuse. To follow I had approx 10-12 sprays from orkin before the problem was finally gone. That took months ! I had a 3 year old and i was pregnant when I moved in. Now my son is 4 and my baby ,9 months old. I’ve had mice aswell and yes they foamed places, did very messy job even gotten foam in places it wasn’t supposed to be such as things that belong to me and my children. I also have an infestation of hornets in my back yard near the door area I have been waiting a while now to see pest control come deal with that – my son often cannot play outside or we have to come inside because of the amount of hornets swarming outside. Last summer I requested one of my railings be replaced as it is very lose and missing some of it, it’s a hazard when you have small children… it’s almost summer again and I have yet to have the railing replaced …i continue to ask and be told someone will come replace it but it doesn’t ever happen. I could sit here and list alot more problems I’ve had , such as the mice who were nesting inside the underneath of my stove…my stove has been replaced. Took a while for that to happen. There’s many more things I could say here … it always seems whatever problems I have , I must repeatedly ask over and over and over again and most times you get lied to and no one ever comes to fix anything.

    Reply

Post Comment