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“Creating a strong sense of place and home in Parkdale”
Today’s Parkdale is one of sharp contrasts. While more and more middle-class families and individuals move into the neighbourhood, there continues to be a large number of adults living below the poverty line, often in substandard rooming houses and boarding homes. Securing permanent, affordable and decent housing continues to be a major challenge for many PARC members and low-income people across the City of Toronto.
In response to this very real affordable housing crisis, PARC created and now operates 57 units of affordable and supportive housing right here in Parkdale – 10 units on the 3rd floor of the PARC building (1499 Queen Street), 29 units next door at Edmond Place (194 Dowling Street), and 18 units on Beaty Ave – just around the corner from PARC.
To apply for supportive housing in the City of Toronto, please fill out the Access Point Referral Form. Under “Mental Health Supportive Housing Program“, select “Apply to this program” and then click “Continue to the next step” to complete the form.
Since 2000, PARC has provided 10 units of supportive housing on the third floor of 1499 Queen Street West for twelve of our members. Because housing is so much more than just a roof overhead, PARC has one full-time community mental health worker dedicated to supporting and working with these tenants on their personal health and recovery plans. This means working with tenants on issues of physical and mental health, reducing harm around substance use and helping them to navigate systemic barriers of stigma and discrimination.
Recovery is of course a relative term. In many ways it’s the small things that matter and make all the difference when it comes to creating a sense of place and home for the tenants at PARC.
In another time, Edmond Place was the site of a run-down rooming house until a fire left it abandoned and boarded up for nearly a decade.
Then in 2008, PARC set out to transform the derelict building into a renewed heritage property by securing a 50-year lease from the City of Toronto and taking on a $6.5 million mortgage. The rebuild was designed by Hilditch Architects (design impacting society) and home furnishings were built collaboratively by PARC members and local social design group, Public Displays of Affection.
In partnership with Habitat Services and in connection with the City’s Affordable Housing Program, Edmond Place opened its doors to tenants and the neighbourhood in January 2011.
Today, Edmond Place is about people, community and a better place to live. Located at 194 Dowling Street – EP – as it is affectionately known, offers 29 units of supportive and affordable housing for people with lived experience of mental health and substance use issues.
Tenants live independently in self-contained apartments and share a common dining room and lounge. During the days and early evenings a housing support worker is on staff to support tenants with daily living matters, meals service and help them manage personal, health and social issues as they come up. EP’s staff also identify as having some form of lived experience of mental health/addiction, making EP uniquely a peerbased supportive housing initiative.
Edmond Place was named after Edmond Yu, a gentle man who lived in the building before its transformation. Today’s Edmond Place is the kind of place he could have called home.
In 2018 PARC took over management of two properties on Beaty Ave. There are 18 units in the buildings. PARC is just up the street, so tenants have easy access to meals, financial management support, an employment program, and many social recreations programs such as Movie Night, Hockey, Women’s Support Group and a camping trip.
Residents are supported by a community mental health worker. The worker assists folks to settle in, define goals, and helps them realize their dreams. Tenants can receive referrals to community services such as physical and mental health supports, lawyers, and affordable shopping, many of which are available in Parkdale. The worker assists in a crisis, and helps folks design and pursue recovery goals around mental health. A harm reduction perspective informs our approach to substance use.
Home for Good is an initiative by the City of Toronto to help people who have experienced chronic homelessness to achieve stable tenancies. Program participants are eligible for a rent supplement – up $800 per person. The program will run through 2020 and may well continue beyond that.
A housing support worker meets people and finds them housing that matches their needs and interests. Once housed, tenants receive support to develop sustainable strategies to maintain their tenancies. The worker helps the tenants to use life skills to stay housed. Financial, cooking, cleaning plans are developed. Tenants are informed of landlord/tenant rights and responsibilities and are supported to live in accordance to them.
Tenants direct their plans for the future and are helped to achieve their goals. They are supported to develop a holistic plan that looks at many aspects of life – health, family, social life, employment and education, hobbies, relationships are addressed.
PARC has a rooming house tenant organizer and outreach worker - Teresa (APortillo@parc.on.ca). Teresa works in partnership with Parkdale Community Legal Services to ensure tenants in rooming houses are informed of their legal rights. She helps tenants build community connections between themselves and other community resources that support tenants to stay in their units.
Teresa stresses the importance of talking to legal representation when dealing with landlords that own rooming houses. She also facilitates community forums that deal with real estate de-regulation. These forums build solutions to the ongoing gentrification of Parkdale.