Balmoral hotel resident declaration against Sequel 138 condos
We live in the Balmoral Hotel. It is the biggest residential hotel in the Downtown Eastside. More than 170 people live in the 8 story building with a painfully slow elevator. There are 24 rooms and two bathrooms on each floor. There are only showers on the 3rd floor, the 6th floor and the 8th floor.
The rents range from $450 to $600 a month for singles. Most of us get only $375 a month for rent and to pay the rest of our rents we cut into our tiny support cheques, which we’re supposed to use to buy food and clothing and soap and everything.
The rooms in the Balmoral are falling apart. Mold is rampant. Some rooms are missing windows that haven’t been fixed in months. Many doors are missing locks. Many of us are being poisoned: there’s more mold than air in some rooms. The mold comes from the walls and the ceilings and it blows in from across the street at the stinking Pantages demolition site.
But as bad as the Balmoral is, it’s better than being homeless. If we lose our rooms here because of rent increases or if our landlord starts renting to a a higher class of people we will have no where else to go. If we had somewhere else to go, we’d be there already!
Plus, our home here is part of an important community of people. This area must be protected for low-income people!
Condos here on the 100-block will throw a monkey wrench into the survival systems we have here: Free food, clothing rooms, might all vanish. There used to be a restaurant on Abbott Street in the ’80s, you could get bacon and eggs and toast for 75cents. The price never changed there for 20 years, since the 60s. And it stayed 75cents for breakfast until it closed down.
Just two years ago a pint of beer was $2 at the Pacific Bar. Now it’s $4.50 at the same place, now called the London Pub. If you look through the window of the Brixton Cafe there beside the London and you can see that eggs benedict cost $12! No one in this community can afford that.
When Balmoral residents go into the mall at Woodward’s right away they think we are going to steal stuff. They look us up and down and judge us like we’re going to rip them off. Most of us don’t go down to the Woodward’s area because we don’t feel safe there. We feel safer on the 100-block.
We want the 100-block to stay a home for low-income people. And we want better homes. We don’t want to feel social pressure to look like supermodels every time we step out the door and look at a condo project and a mall of fancy boutiques.
Haven’t we made the homeless suffer enough? It’s time to do the right thing, not bring Woodward’s type shoppers to Carnegie.
We know that we have to fight against development because it’s capitalism and bureaucracy that’s running this town, and they are trying to kill us all. If all the neighbours in Shaughnessy said NO to a condo project what do you think city hall would do? But we know poor people always have to suffer.
We need welfare rate social housing here in our neighbourhood because we want to stay in our home but we need healthier housing.
We say: No condos on the 100-block. We need welfare-rate apartments for current residents of the hotels and we need them now!