Broken glass, broke and hungry



Ever scoured the streets of Hamilton for accommodation? What if you are on that bubble where affordable housing crosses over to slum living?

What is the price on natural light, cleanliness, schools and a bus stop close by since I work nights? Is the alleyway a wonderful maze for my children to play in or a potential gateway to an environment I don’t want them to know about? What if it is a gateway to the life I’m trying to escape?

Have you ever looked at a basement apartment for under $500 per month? Small windows, few windows, no windows, no straight walls, no doors and are curtains really considered an alternative to doors? Breeze block walls and concrete floors; crooked, cracked and cold floors.

Do you really require pays stubs, references from three professionals who have known me for five years and letters from my last two places of residence? Can I ask you for letters that the building is insulated, doesn’t have rats and that you will not be absent when I need some help? That the wiring is to code? That the mold was removed not painted over, though some landlords don’t even care to be ashamed of exposed mold. Where are their references? Letters from their last two tenants? Mind if I call them?

Basement bathrooms are a world upon their own. Basement bathrooms are built in damp dark corners close to sump pumps and floor drains. Basement bathrooms are fitted in after the 2 large bedrooms have been thrown up. And who defines large? Basement bathrooms; grime, filth, dirt, damp walls, waterlogged floors, drains that drain slower than the trickle of water coming out of the shower head. Is a plywood floor on blackened 2”x4”s leading to the bathroom a bad sign? Or is it a path leading to lifelong memories or lifelong nightmares? Will this make me stronger? Bathrooms in the basement have their own unique smell.

Is a puff of winged bugs coming out of the drain bad? What is the price difference between the flies, the cockroaches and centipedes? Which shall I pay more for? Which shall I pay less for? Is the absence of centipedes worth 6” less in height? Spiders don’t bother me; spiders are cost neutral.

Bed bugs are a problem that I am not responsible for, but ultimately I will have to pay for. I thought you said there were no bedbugs here?

Is this place worth $500? Why are they charging $1000? Is this place legal? Is this to code? I’m learning about codes, but that just makes me a troublemaker and somehow I never get a call back when I’ve raised the issues of codes; strange how that happens. Is it legal to live in a store? Is it legal to have a BBQ in the house? Can the heat and hydro be turned off on me even if I’ve paid my rent? Apparently so.

I see an apartment I lived in 5 years ago which has fallen on ‘ill repair’; how is it I now can’t afford it.

I see finished brick, hardwood floors and I want to cry when I realize it is out of my price range. I do cry knowing it will forever be outside my price range. I do cry knowing with each move I am falling behind and with each move someone is getting father ahead.

What would these landlords think if we wrote about them? Put their names in print for all to see? Titillation sells; we watch reality shows – what if we went into some of these apartments for fun? Wouldn’t that be entertaining; perhaps, but welcome to my life.

How can one person take advantage of another, guilt free? How do we let these apartments survive? How do we let these apartments prosper? Who has the upper hand and who pays in the end? I am trying to move on; I am trying to get stable, to get ahead. Fundamentally you wouldn’t think decent housing in Hamilton, in Ontario, would be an issue; but for some it is and for those it might just be easier on the street. It might be easier to give up. Decent living should be a basic human right, is that so hard?

So many of us, myself included take a roof over our head, even a house, for granted but there are many others who are fighting for that privilege.  And then there are others who have even less. Hamilton is a great place to live.  We have social services, social programs and people who care. But, Hamilton is changing . Hamilton is growing, booming, quite possible one could say we are prospering, or most are prospering, or some are prospering. Others, however, are being left behind. Affordable housing in Hamilton was so close, almost attainable and it now appears it has been snatched from the fingers of those on the edge.  The gap between those who have, and those who have not, is getting wider and while support systems are things to be proud of,the cycle of suppression needs to stop.



1) Why are you moving?

2) When are you hoping to occupy the space?

3) How many people will be living int he apartment? How many have jobs?

4) Will you have first and last month’s rent available upon move in?

5) Will you sign off and consent to a credit and background check?



1) What utilities to do I pay for? Who pays for the water heater?

2) Are you considering selling in the next year or so?

3) Are pets welcome?

4) Do you plan on doing any improvements to the space? If I want to do improvements, will I be reimbursed?

5) What furnishings are included?

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