Sunday, October 17, 2010

Displaced, In Debt & Begging For Help

Toronto Star Article, "Hundreds of Wellesley St. fire victims still yearning to go home," Saturday, October 16 and “Fire victims search for their dignity," Sunday, October 17, 2010

The cute yet predictable movie, Leap Year, posed the question--what would you grab if the fire alarm sounded? What would be that one item with sentimental and not monetary value? For me, a very sentimental person, the question is not easy, but I decided on my external hard drive (holds all my photos) and a family history photo album handwritten by my grandmother.

This question is valid and really makes you reflect on what is important.  However, for those 600 tenants still displaced by the Wellesley fire, this question doesn't answer any of their problems.  Problems like, what will I wear to school? What will I write on when I am there? What will I cook my food in and what food will I even cook?

The six-alarm fire at 200 Wellesley on Sept. 24th left roughly 1200, low-income residents displaced--many with nowhere to go.  This building is just 400 meters from both my apartment and my job at Shoppers Drug Mart. 

The article mentions that, "tenants will receive a one-time clothing allowance late next week--$150 for those in bachelor and one-bedroom apartments," but is this really enough?  A thrifty shopper can certainly get a nice bag of goods for that price, but imagine if you had no clothes to start with?  How many days can $150 of clothes get you through, especially if you have to go to a job or to school?

As a public relations student I have learned the necessity of planning for events and campaigns, but even more so, planning for the "what ifs."  The city of Toronto or Toronto Community Housing should have planned ahead, pulled the "Building Fire" binder off the shelf and implemented a plan to mobilize support organizations, house displaced tenants, call on private sector sponsors and first and foremost, communicate with residents continuously.

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