According to several residents of City-owned Kingston Frontenac Housing Corporation’s (KFHC) Rideaucrest Towers, on Saturday, Jul. 31, 2021, a hot water tank blew in a seventh-floor apartment, causing extensive damage and potential health risks on that floor and the floor below, and causing a sixth-floor ceiling to fall in. As of Wednesday, Aug. 4, 2021 at noon, no repairs have been completed by KFHC, the tenants said.
According to a resident of the sixth floor, “This person’s water tank blew on the seventh floor, the top floor, and covered three-quarters of the floor in the hallway. From her place, it went through ceilings on the sixth floor. So, the person whose roof fell on the sixth floor called it into the emergency on-call. She was right away told that it’s a $200 charge if it goes through to the person on call [and it is deemed a non-emergency]. I called it in because it was right outside my door in the hallway. I was told the same. So I told them fine, it’s not affecting my apartment. I’m not reporting it because I’m not getting charged.”
This, according to the resident, is proof that “KFHC don’t care about us at all. So, you are up in the air then on whether this counts as an emergency or not, but if your roof is coming in that is an emergency, but they don’t tell you what is an emergency or what isn’t an emergency. So you’re kind of hanging there, afraid of a $200 charge.”
This is especially concerning because the building is for seniors and people with disabilities, he/she explained, noting that “They might not have the money to afford the charge, so that keeps them from calling.”
In fact, KFHC “manages 957 rent-geared-to income housing consisting of 560 family household units and 387 adult units… [and] 76 senior affordable units and 48 adult affordable and market units,” according to the organization’s website, which states that “The City of Kingston is the sole shareholder of KFHC.”
Another resident corroborated the incident and both told Kingstonist that “people are afraid to speak up” about issues for “fear of being evicted.”
Further, both say that no preventative maintenance is done at their residence. “They penny-pinch and just replace things once they break, like this water tank, it should have been repaired or replaced before this happened. I just want people to know where their tax money is going and how it is being used,” one resident shared.
As of Monday, Aug 2, the only people to have tried to clean up the mess were residents who happened to own a shop vacuum, according to the tenants.
“That was the only thing that they did, even the maintenance did not come in, still today [Monday]. There is only a floor fan that’s on a pedestal sitting at the end of the hall [on the seventh floor] because it’s the whole hallway. Blowing air, right across the hall, it doesn’t even touch down to the carpet, the carpet is soaked. It’s not even attached to the floor. No dehumidifiers, no heater fan, no nothing. And every time a wheelchair goes over it the water moves along the floor,” said the resident, who does use a wheelchair.
Another resident who uses a wheelchair showed this reporter the dirty tracks into her apartment on the seventh floor, caused by driving her chair over the wet carpet and into her doorway. The pedestal fan was indeed the only thing tackling the humidity in the hallway.
“Yeah, now that’s gonna sit there until Tuesday and the floor’s soaking wet. There’s gonna be mould and stuff, we’ve got tons of people on oxygen, even the person whose hot water tank blew uses oxygen.”
Except that isn’t the case. As of Wednesday morning, no maintenance has been done, according to residents.
The situation is precarious, according to multiple residents of KFHC. “Nobody wants to speak up,” says one, “we are all afraid of being evicted. If you don’t mind your p’s and q’s, [KFHC] make your life very difficult.”
This was also the case when speaking with residents about the rent money that was removed a week early last month in an apparent “banking error.” Multiple KFHC residents have told Kingstonist they would like to remain anonymous for fear of repercussions.
“Like, for example, lots of seniors and disabled people will now have to get paperwork from their bank to show them at the office [of KFHC] to prove the money was taken and they were charged [NSF]. How is that fair? People who have mobility issues and breathing issues shouldn’t have to traipse all over because of [KFHC’s] mistake,” said a resident of Rideau Crest Tower, “They treat us like apartments, we aren’t people to them.”
Also, several residents have said notice of the banking mistake has not yet been given by KFHC, despite claims otherwise by KFHC.
Kingstonist has reached out to the Kingston Frontenac Housing Corporation for comment, but has not received response at time of publication. Kingstonist also reached out to the City of Kingston, who redirected inquiries back to KFHC. This article will be updated if/when more information becomes available.