Downtown Concerned Citizens Organization

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In the past six months, a mom of two young children living near the Dovercourt modular housing project says she’s noticed new faces begging on Dundas St. West.

Diane says they’re very “aggressive” and largish men who’ve been spotted coming in and out of the 44-unit Dovercourt modular housing project.

Diane is not her real name. She asked for it to be changed because of the “cancel culture” that now exists in the city.

She says there’s a large man who panhandles outside the nearby Dollarama on Dundas St. W and yells vulgarities and waves his cane in peoples’ faces if they don’t give him money.

One of her neighbours, she says, found a woman passed out highly intoxicated in her yard in the middle of the day; another neighbour found a woman in her backyard trying to store her stuff behind a shed.

  1. This site at 150 Harrison St., near Dovercourt Rd. and Dundas St. W., is one of two locations approved by the city for construction of a $20.9 modular housing plan.

    LEVY: COVID pressures prompt city to accelerate $20.9M modular housing plan

  2. Toronto modular housing project at 150 Harrison St.

    LEVY: Modular homes thrust on unsuspecting communities

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“Everything in the neighbourhood has escalated 10 times since the modular housing came in,” she said.

“I don’t even feel safe walking through parks,” Diane added, referring to the encampments in Trinity Bellwoods and Dufferin Grove parks, which she used to visit with her young children.

But the worst is recently finding out that the project’s very first tenant is a 54-year-old repeat sex offender who just got out of jail last summer after being charged in 2016 for allegedly prowling and peering into the homes of six women near McCaul and Dundas Sts. He’d had similar charges in 2010 related to incidents at University of Toronto residences.

She says the moms had specifically asked Councillor Ana Bailao and housing secretariat executive director Abi Bond to put “low-risk” tenants in there.

This is why more than 200 East York residents packed an early May virtual community engagement session about a 64-unit modular housing project planned for their neighbourhood. Their safety fears were dismissed.

Bond and others refused to say who’d be placed there and said there would be no background checks done on the tenants because they’ll be renters (even though their rent is highly subsidized at 70% of their Ontario Works or Ontario Disability Support Program payments).

She said there’d be two “well-trained and experienced staff” on at all time but not actual security.

They also vociferously denied that crime has increased in the Dovercourt and Macey Ave. neighbourhoods since the first two projects opened this spring.

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Bond and others have repeatedly told residents how offensive it is to “stigmatize the homeless.”

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The more I hear from concerned residents, the more it seems like the the city is simply moving tenants from jail, encampments and shelters — and all their mental and addictions with them — without the proper supports.

Another mom calls the level of “manipulation” from city officials “reprehensible” and the lack of honesty “astounding” — as the communities become increasingly unsafe for women.

“How can we trust who they are putting in there if they’re choosing repeat offenders?” asks Diane.

Bailao referred to the Dovercourt Community Liaison committee (which deals with safety), saying the “first priority is always to have a safe neighbourhood where all residents can live in comfort and feel fully a part of the community.”

City spokesman Ellen Leesti also said community safety is a “priority” and that “considerable due diligence” is done to match tenants with the project to “create a healthy and inclusive community” in the neighbourhood.

She repeated the now tiresome mantra that these residents “have the same rights as any other renter in the city.”

She wouldn’t comment on the resident who is a repeat sex offender and the manager from COTA Health (one of the building’s operators) did not respond to a request for comment.

She did say they are aware of “serious issues” including break-ins in the area of Dundas and Dovercourt — although 14 Division of Toronto Police Services has indicated no “increase in police activity” since the project’s opening in February.

“The issues raised by the community are certainly concerning,” she said. “But (they) also highlight the intense need for supportive housing projects like the one in this neighbourhood.”

slevy@postmedia.com

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