The Firgrove-Grassways community is gentrifying after the Toronto Community Housing Corporation (TCHC) relocated more than 241 residents.
TCHC deemed the Firgrove-Grassways buildings unsafe for residents in 2016 and forced them to relocate.
The development of new higher priced units is being built on the site of the homes that were demolished by the Toronto Housing Corporation. They are home that are out of reach for the former residents of the area.
Serena Nolan, a 29-year-old mother who lives in the Firgrove Crescent area, says she is paying too much for a house that isn’t big enough for her needs.
“I thought moving here would be a great idea for my family, but the price is ridiculously high for a small space,” Nolan said.
“My kitchen and living room is one room combined. Me and my husband are always bumping into each other and there’s barely any place to put my kid’s toys,” she said.
The condos at 45 Firgrove Crescent were built shortly after the demolition at Firgrove Grassways. As part of TCHC’s revitalization plan, all 236 demolished units will be replaced with rent-geared-to-income units along with the refurbishment of 152 onsite units.
There are up to 600 planned affordable housing units — both rental and ownership — as part of the TCHC project and the construction process is expected to be completed by 2023.
Nolan’s husband Dellon, 30, says he had to pick up extra shifts at work since moving to the Jane and Finch area.
“I work at UPS and had to pick up some night shifts at work. There was no other option between paying rent and trying to afford things for my family,” Dellon said.
The poverty rate in the Jane and Finch area has risen by 3.8 per cent and is expected to rise even higher with the completion of the TCHC project.
“The prices are way too high. The government is more focused on profiting off of us instead of lending a helping hand,” Dellon said.
Other members of the Jane and Finch community expressed concerns about their living conditions.
Rodney Osei, a 19-year-old in the community, said he saw the chaos from relocating residents in 2016.
“I used to live over at 3 Marsh Grassway before my parents relocated us to 50 Firgrove Crescent two years later. It was a hard transition for my parents,” Osei said.
“They struggled much more to keep us close to Jane and Finch. We used to call this area home, but after seeing how hard my parents have it, it just feels different,” he said.
Gentrification mainly affects minority groups as nearly 20 per cent of families from low-income neighbourhoods suffer from high rent prices.
“The people who live in the neighbourhood suffer while the government spends money on other s**t,” Nolan said.
The neighbourhood’s cost of living and property values are expected to increase in conjunction with the development of the Finch LRT, according to a MetroLinx study. The study showed that generally, North American residential values along transit lines, called transit influenced appreciation, rose between eight and 10 per cent.
The construction for the Finch LRT began in 2019. There will approximately be 11 kilometres of light rail transit along Finch Avenue from the planned Finch West subway station at Keele Street to Humber College.
“Neglect like this is bad for people. Everything is escalating and living like this is not possible. Before the pressure and costs kill us, something has to change,” Dellon said.