The management of a Toronto apartment building that was ravaged by fire last summer says it will stop paying hotel bills for its displaced tenants at the end of this month.
In a letter posted to Twitter on Wednesday evening, the management of 650 Parliament St. said it will continue to provide assistance “to those who locate comparable accommodations, but we cannot continue the cost of providing hotel accommodation after Nov. 30, 2018.”
Building resident Mark Slapinski, who is now staying at a Holiday Inn with about 100 other tenants, said the announcement caught him and many others off guard.
“I’m still in shock right now. I couldn’t believe it when I saw it,” said Slapinski, a social media student at Seneca College, who created and runs the Facebook page Displaced Residents of 650 Parliament and a Twitter account with the same name.
Slapinski, who lived in the building for eight years, said he’s not sure where he’ll go next, but he plans to meet with other tenants, a law firm and activist groups such as ACORN to stage a protest and figure out his options.
Mayor John Tory said Thursday morning that he had tried to call the owners of the Parliament St. building to urge them to house everyone left homeless by the fire.
“These residents are homeless through no fault of their own,” Tory said. “I’m not blaming the landlord for the fact there was a fire but … they have insurance to cover it and they are the landlord.
“In the absence of people being able to provide these people their apartments, I would expect that they will do everything they can — which I think they largely have been doing in recent months — to make sure these people are being looked after,” he said, adding, “I’ll be pursuing this over the course of the day.”
Tory said he understands the number of residents who have been unable to find alternative housing is “relatively small,” and their landlord-funded apartments should continue to be provided until they can move back into their own units or find other housing.
Immediately following the fire, about 200 tenants with no other place to go were housed in the nearby Regent Park Community Centre. Eventually, they were forced to leave as the city decided to reopen the centre to recreational programming following outcry from the community and the fatal shooting of Mackai Jackson, a 15-year-old boy who frequented the centre.
Since then, many tenants have taken up residence with friends and family, but some have had to seek other accommodations, such as hotels and other apartments paid for by management.
Now that hotels are no longer being paid for, Slapinski said many are in a similar situation to him.
“I’m just trying to figure out what to do next,” he said.
Jack Hauen is a breaking news reporter, working out of the Star’s radio room in Toronto. Follow him on Twitter: @jackhauenWith files from David Rider