About 20 people are now homeless after a downtown Brockville, Ont., rooming house was condemned by the fire marshal.
Displaced residents are now working with local agencies to secure alternative housing in a city with low vacancy rates. It’s been three nights away from home for those who were living at the building.
“They’re upset, they’re angry, they’re hurt, they’re scared. Winter is coming,” said Shirley Cain, who’s been helping the unhoused population in downtown Brockville for over a year.
“They’re going to be cold. They’re going to be living on the street, and they sleep out here.”
Cain says that need increased late last week, after the fire marshal condemned a rooming house on King Street West.
“Nobody got notice of anything,” said Elnora Miller, a friend of a displaced resident.
“It just came Friday afternoon. I got a call saying that the building was being condemned. I was concerned of a senior resident in there with a cat.
“So now they’re all in motels.”
According to notices found on the building, the fire marshal closed the residence because of careless smoking around combustible materials and the illegal construction of added rooms. The owner of the building says she understands there were safety concerns but that things spiraled out of her control.
“The smoke alarm detector, they take it down without permission, without telling me they take out the battery,” said Tang Viengkhone, the owner of the building.
“They just keep repeating, going on, going on. I can’t … fix them. I can’t trust them anymore.”
Community and Social Services of Leeds and Grenville is working with over a dozen people to find alternative housing.
“In a couple of cases they had friends or family that they were able to draw upon to be able to go to their location for the weekend, either in the short term or the long term,” said Alison Tutak, the Director of Community and Social Services with Leeds and Grenville.
“And we had other individuals who didn’t have any option available to them, so in those cases we looked at the options for local hotels.”
Officials say finding affordable long-term solutions may take time. Meanwhile, the owner of the building says while she is working with the city to bring the building up to code, she is not planning to reopen to the displaced tenants.