Protection for Domestic Abuse Survivors Housing

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We need protection for domestic abuse survivors who can have their entire lives fall apart even after surviving a traumatic situation, and need your help to protect their housing and mine.

Somewhere safe to live is a basic fundamental need, that must be protected by law and domestic abuse survivors need that additional protection to ensure that we can rebuild our lives, and provide safety and security for our children.

On Monday, May 28th, 2018, the Landlord and Tenant Board will decide whether to evict my children and I from our home, rather than transfer me as I have requested. 

On May 27th, 2017, I experienced a very shocking and violent assault in my home, while my children witnessed. I was beaten and choked to the point where I nearly lost my life. I was eventually able to take my 3 daughters and flee for our lives. We left our home barefoot and with inappropriate house clothes on our backs. It was a traumatic and deeply painful situation to even discuss.

From the hospital, I ended up at Sandgate Shelter sharing a small room with my 3 children, yet we were safe. It was difficult for my children to live in the shelter, and my family and supporters surrounded us with love and care, so that we could return to our home and try to move on from the attack. However, we continue to be re-traumatized because we are living in the house where it all happened, and because of racism, prejudice and racial intolerance our housing community has continued adding their attacks during this vulnerable time that should have been a time of healing. There have been continuing circumstances including the mental and emotional abuse and harassment from groups of neighbours and their children, starting with my next door neighbour that listened outside my door as I was brutally attacked, watched as I fled from my house with my children, and never called the police, or offered a jacket, a shoe or a word of support.

It was baffling to me that my subsidized housing complex became a place of continuous attacks on me and my children, until I realized that when people are being racist, our black pain, hurt, and the suffering of our black children is not real to them, and so they can be indifferent to your pain and even harsh and cruel, causing more upset and difficulty to the circumstances of your life.   I have lived here since September 2016 and had no problems with anyone in my community, and yet since I was the victim of an attack, my housing neighbours and even the Property Manager in my housing office has been supporting each other and collaborating in these attacks, using systemic tools including the By Law office of Georgina, the York Region Courts, and Police, in their Racist attacks.

My neighbours are calling the authorities on me with no real basis. Racism. For example, since I was attacked in May 2017, I had been receiving support from the Children's Aid Society, and had a wonderful worker who met with my children and I regularly, to share resources and support. During this time, The Society had received a ‘call of concern’ from one of my neighbours, before my worker came for her next visit. A few supportive neighbours had let me know about the call, and that it was loudly discussed with racial comments and laughed about amongst the other neighbours. I was shocked, and felt that I should speak to the neighbours about it, but refrained until I had the official word from CAS. When my CAS worker came, she stated that the call was so ridiculous that she would not even ask me anything about it. Soon after their attempt at sabotage, my CAS worker and I decided that we no longer need to meet as I have natural supports in place, and she has no concerns about us. I chose not to confront my neighbours as our children were friends, played together in my backyard and the playground, and I did not want to make my children more uncomfortable in this neighbourhood.

That same neighbour and her friends in our community have criticized my children for their racial differences and told their children not to play or befriend my children. Racism. They even went so far as to accuse my girls of spreading lice to their children when it is a well-known fact, and according to Dr. Dale Clayton, renowned parasitologist and inventor of the revolutionary AirAllé Head Lice Treatment device... “African American hair is shaped differently than Caucasian, Hispanic, or Asian hair, and lice have a hard time getting their grasping hooks around the shaft” (Fresh Heads Lice Treatment Centre) and my children have not ever had this affliction. I know that it is a common problem but blaming my children because they are black is ridiculous and was very hurtful to them.

My children are being harassed at school and in the neighbourhood where they play. Racism. My beautiful daughters are being made to feel shameful and they no longer want to go to school. I can see this is causing increased social isolation, and anxiety. My direct neighbour seems to have a personal vendetta against me, since his weed smoking buddy (my ex) was arrested and is prohibited from coming to the area. He has told his eight year old son to tell my ten year old daughter that he doesn’t like us, he wants us to move and he’s going to get us kicked out.  The younger of his two daughters, has made it a routine to share gossip and lies to the adults and children in the neighbourhood, such as stating that I am Black trash; I am having sex with half the neighbourhood; and bragging that they report me everyday and are going to get me evicted. The child said that they installed a camera because they ‘know’ I hit their car, which is also absolutely not true. The parents have made racist comments when my children and I are exiting our vehicle and entering our home, such as, “it’s getting dark out here”. Interesting that my Property Manager was receiving these false complaints from them and chose to give me a parking spot right beside them. I had requested a spot closer to my house, because previously she placed me at the furthest end of the complex, right in front of the woman who made the ridiculous report to Children’s Aid.

The harassment continues… The York Region housing office has sanctioned their parking monitors to place Georgina parking tickets on the vehicles that my family supporters have driven to my house in order to provide support and care to myself and my children, despite having an understanding of the trauma that we have suffered and the directly related, need for support. My family, could not understand why they were receiving tickets when they had parked in the visitors parking and there was no sign posted of who to contact regarding parking. I was experiencing much distress and it took me awhile to remember that I could contact my tenant services co-ordinator. She provided registration information and even when my family would call and register their vehicles, they continued to receive tickets. In the next call to the co-ordinator, she was pleasant, but apologized that she could not help, and I would have to contact the Property Manager. At first, she was cold and indifferent to the traumatic experience we had just suffered, stating that they have an eight day parking rule that could not be changed under any circumstances. I felt myself breaking inside… She wanted my children and I to be alone in the house that we had just been tortured in? What if He came back? Who would protect us? How could the Police get from Sutton to Keswick in time to help us? Should we live in the shelter indefinitely? She finally agreed to allow them to park, and even though we had a verbal agreement, and later a written letter dated July 14, 2017, she enlisted her parking monitor in continuously ticketing their cars, causing us to have that additional stress and court dates for parking infractions. Furthermore, she enlisted the Town of Georgina bylaws office to tow my sister’s vehicle 2 days before Christmas. My sister had just helped me pick up my children’s gifts from the Victim Services program and they were packed in her car when they towed it. The tow manager from Kings Towing advised us that the bylaws office had told him to charge us extra money when they contacted him, however, he felt bad and only charged us $200. When we returned for the next parking infraction court date, the prosecutor already knew that they had towed us, as they seemed to be proud of the distress they were causing us. Christmas was already an extremely difficult time for us, and when I returned to my home after visiting my family’s home in Markham, somehow there was no heat and my 3 children and I spent the night in the freezing cold with 2 space heaters that a Housing York worker brought with a promise of a technician coming at 9am. On Day 2 the Emergency Contact Centre confirmed that my Property Manager, is aware of the situation and finally on Day 4 the technician came with a new motor and said that he just heard about my dire situation, today. So did she forward the information?

My sister had been reaching out to the various agencies and companies related to my care and support, my bills, my children and my housing.  My property manager refused to return her calls about my housing and the parking issues, and only requested signed consent from me via email on January 12, 2018.  I was physically assaulted almost a year ago. To this date, no phone call.

My neighbours who didn’t call the police as I was being abused, have continued their racist attacks by contacting the police to make noise complaints, and I later learned that they were calling our property manager, to make complaints about my family and I. As I had not received a phone call, letter or email from anyone at Housing York Inc. regarding these noise concerns, I was shocked to receive an eviction notice for listening to loud music. However, it stated that I had 7 days to correct my behavior and that the notice would become null and void. I ceased listening to music, and spent more time away from my home in order to comply. Therefore, in my mind, the first eviction notice became null and void.

While dealing with the court issues regarding the physical assault, I experienced, my neighbours continuous assaults on my children and myself, and the court issues created by the parking, the truth is that it hurt emotionally. The more I heard from my neighbours about the collaborations of specific neighbours with my housing officers against me, when I heard from the Town of Georgina bylaws office staff about the collaborations with York Region housing staff against me and my supporters, when we heard from the towing company about the collaborations with the Town of Georgina bylaws office, and further when we heard about the collaborations from court staff, and the demonstrated pride in these attacks… it HURT.

I completed my application for a Special Priority Housing transfer while I was in the Shelter, last year June 16, 2017, meeting with the Transitional Housing Support Worker to fully explain and document the gruesome details of the events leading up to and including the day of the terrible attack. Her comments were insensitive, she did not send my application in for a whole month and I recently found out that she had documented it incorrectly. My completed application was sent in to the York Region Access housing department. My family were not able to join me the day I met with Special Priority Housing Specialist at the office in Newmarket. During the meeting, she debated with me about specifics in my application and asked me questions, such as, “Oh so he choked you?” For someone identified as the Special Priority Housing Specialist, she was insensitive and callous. How could she talk to me as if I hadn’t just experienced it? I was visibly uncomfortable, rocking and fidgeting, and in my fragile state, asking for permission to leave. No, we had to discuss options, but then she spoke very dismally about the prospects of my housing anywhere else in York Region. I felt very vulnerable, depressed and hopeless, and had a complete breakdown in my car. Honestly, I did not know if I was going to make it home as I was crying so much that I could not even see. I could not communicate with her afterwards for follow up and lost my Special Priority status. My supports have had to make several phone calls, visits to Newmarket, and advocate for my Special Priority status to be reinstated as the policies do not reflect or accommodate the lived experience of an abuse survivor. Now that I have the status eligibility, the new barrier that my Property Manager is using to refuse my transfer, is that I am not in ‘good standing’ as I am being evicted. My housing tribunal is on May 28, 2018.

My children have been suffering since this all happened and I listen to music, so that they do not hear me crying and upset, but it is not loud enough to disturb their sleep. I have tried to protect them in whichever ways I can. Yet I am demonized when I listen to music, which is a wellness tool for me and is actually not at an excessive level.

It is true that during the multiple systemic attacks and particularly after the new year, we grieved our losses, celebrated children’s birthdays, and family day weekend and played music on occasion, however, my neighbours and your recent eviction notice state that music is being played in the day, and now this is not allowed either? It is very suspicious that I have not received a phone call, nor has my supporter, who is on file to discuss any housing or life related concerns. So no phone calls of concern or warning regarding music or noise and yet I receive an eviction notice filled with the lies of my lying neighbours, without anyone at Housing York trying to alert, mediate, or even hear my thoughts and experiences. While my neighbours were making false reports to Housing York, the Georgina Bylaws office and the Police, my youngest daughter who is only 4 years old, became very ill and in March 2018, I learned that she has kidney disease. Her nephrologist is in Markham, and her care is through Markham Stouffville Hospital. I have requested my special priority transfer even more urgently, as it would help my family’s immediate needs to be met, by leaving this racially intolerant community. The property manager only wants to evict.

It is unconscionable that government employees who are paid to support the most vulnerable people in society are partaking in this type of racist behaviour. Homelessness, oppression, trauma and early morbidity rates are directly linked. How can it be that our government is trying to combat homelessness by funding programs like Flexible Supports, Housing First, and the Housing 2 Health programs; and that I, a single mother, who survived domestic abuse can be targeted for eviction by government workers?   It is shameful that in our weakest moments, they chose to use their systemic tools in a collaborated racist attack and cost us money, emotional and physical harm; but all I need is a safe place for my daughters and I to live. We no longer feel safe in the Town of Georgina, where we are constantly in fear of the next attack, and request that someone help us to relocate closer to our family and medical care in Markham.

With the most sincere thanks,

Single Mother of 3, Domestic Abuse Survivor

 (In person show of support and petition signing on Wednesday, May 23, 2018 at York Region Housing Access Centre at 17310 Yonge St at Millard Ave W. from 11am onwards)