Metro Housing Halifax Ignores Roaches, Bedbugs

4 09 2014

Metro Housing tenants tired of cockroaches and bedbugs

by ROBERT DEVET

Dartmouth tenants, tired of cockroaches and bedbugs, rally at Community Services minister Joanne Bernard's constituency office in Dartmouth. Photo Robert Devet
Dartmouth tenants, tired of cockroaches and bedbugs, rally at Community Services minister Joanne Bernard’s constituency office in Dartmouth. Photo Robert Devet
A petition signed by most tenants calls for an immediate and fundamental solution to a problem that has festered for years. Photo Robert Devet
A petition signed by most tenants calls for an immediate and fundamental solution to a problem that has festered for years. Photo Robert Devet

“We are the tenants of 101 Nova Court and we are very tired and fed up with the living conditions in here. There are bed bugs and roaches in here. They’re in the hallways and most of the apartments.”

“It’s not fair that we have to live under these circumstances. It takes a lot of energy to try our best to keep our houses clean and having to live like this creates many health concerns (stress, anxiety, panic attacks, and a lot of emotional stress).”

“There are children and infants that shouldn’t have to live like this. There are parents that cry because their children deserve better living conditions.”

 

K’JIPUKTUK (HALIFAX) – Those are quotes from a petition signed by most of the tenants of a Dartmouth building managed by the Metropolitan Regional Housing Authority.

Metro Housing is part of the Department of Community Services and provides affordable rental housing to seniors and families with low or fixed incomes.

The tenants of 101 Nova Court want Metro Housing to get serious about the bug infestations that are making their lives so miserable.

42 out of the 60 tenants signed the petition.

How bad the situation really is was made clear in a report by CTV that aired last week. The two-minute segment focused on a cockroach infestation so awful that it chased tenants out of their apartments.

The video starts with a warning that some of the images “are quite unpleasant to see.”

On Tuesday, September 2nd, tenants and members of ACORN Nova Scotia gathered outside Joanne Bernard’s constituency office on Wyse Road in Dartmouth. Frustrated and feeling ignored by Metro Housing, they are looking for somebody who will listen.

Bernard is the Minister of Community Services, and she is also the MLA for the tenants of Nova Court.

“I’d like them to come in and spray and clean everything, not just when somebody complains,” Deryl MacDonald, single parent and a tenant of 101 Nova Court tells reporters at the rally. “You spray one room and the bugs are just going to back up and move to another room. There are holes and crevices in the walls.”

ACORN Nova Scotia, the local chapter of a national anti-poverty organization, supports the tenants in their efforts.

“Some of the people of Nova Court came to the regular meetings we have here, and they told us how they are tired of cockroaches and of being ignored,” explains ACORN spokesperson Jonethan Brigley. “So we said we’d help them getting their message across.”

“All the credit goes to the tenants who organized the petition. We’re here today just to help these guys push this forward and get it noted that bedbugs and roaches are not ok and need attention,” Brigley says.

“Metro Housing is always saying that they’re going to do something about it, but if we followed their advise we’d be waiting for many years,” he says.

When it came time to arrange a meeting with Bernard, the delegation of tenants found the doors of Bernard’s constituency office locked.

Bernard is not apologetic. “If a consituency assistant doesn’t feel safe she has that prerogative,” she tells the Halifax Media Co-op.

“Most constituency offices in urban areas have a security system, everybody is buzzed in after a visual contact. We installed it three months ago at the suggestion of the Speaker’s Office. We’ve had altercations and we’ve had to call police,” Bernard adds.

But she is more than willing to meet with any resident of her district, she says.

Bernard says that since she became a MLA in the last election, her office only received one bug-related complaint from 101 Nova Court. That issue was resolved.

The petition signed by 80 percent of the tenants may not have been on her radar, but Metro Housing certainly knew about it.

“Tenants submitted the petition and met with Metro Housing on August 19th. What came out of that is that they were going to fumigate the common areas and clean out the garbage chutes,” Shay Enxuga of ACORN Nova Scotia tells the Halifax Media Co-op.

“But tenants in the building feel that is simply not enough,” Enxuga adds. “That’s what we are trying to bring to Bernard’s attention.”

“What I do not think is fair is Bernard saying that she doesn’t know about the issue. She is the Minister responsible for Metro Housing and this issue has been going on for years,” Enxuga says.

ACORN Nova Scotia will meet each Tuesday in September at the Dartmouth North Community Centre, 105 Highfield Park Drive between 6 PM and 8 PM. The September 23rd meeting will focus on establishing a Dartmouth North chapter of ACORN Nova Scotia.

See also:

Lively community meeting tackles landlord licensing and rent control

Landlords from hell and rodents for roommates

Follow Robert Devet on Twitter @DevetRobert

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