Sunday, October 13, 2013

My Old Apartment

My 'allergies' are clearing up nicely now, two years later.

My sister was shocked when I told her I paid $8,000 in rent last year.

That’s enough to buy a house, but of course people on the Ontario Disability Support Program can’t get a mortgage—maybe that’s a half-truth. I once went to the bank and they were prepared to give me a mortgage of $30,000. They wanted a down payment of $15,000. So they would have lent me $15,000, at about six percent as I recall.

You can’t buy a house for $30,000 unless it’s in Taliban country or at the extemities of the Earth.

There are no services in Taliban country or at the extremities of the Earth. No plumbing, no heat, no electricity, and of course your investment is uninsurable.

(Without insurance, you can’t get a mortgage. Catch-22, don’t you know.)

With a house, it’s not just the mortgage payment. There is heat, hydro, insurance, property taxes, and water, which includes a lot of hidden charges for ‘delivery’ and surcharges for past debt. Also, in this town at least, some of the price-jacking on the property taxes is stuck in the water bill.

City Council talks big about ‘diversification,’ mostly before election time but not much afterwards.

The Province of Ontario talks big about ‘poverty reduction’ before elections, but not much afterwards. It is a slogan, nothing more, and the bourgeoisie buys into it, but then they are all cynics and hypocrites and they all know it is bullshit.

I owned a house once. Before I bought it, I did a budget and came up with a figure of $675.00 a month average. My ODSP income was $930.00 a month at the time, and I knew it would be a tough go. I knew I’d be going to the food bank, and I knew I wouldn’t have a car, and I knew I’d be sponging smokes off anybody that had ‘em…but at least you are building equity in a piece of property, and my grandmother was kind enough to give me $1,500 for a down payment.

For a while there, it felt good to own a home, although my working class neighbours didn’t like it much. They had to get up and go to work in the morning, while I was ‘sponging off the system.’

One of the neighbours told me that once. He was self-employed, although he has since gotten hired to work for the city, at about $25.00 an hour for unskilled labour.

Who’s sponging now, (insert disparaging term of choice, but mine is very naughty.)

(It rhymes with fuzzy sock licker, sort of.)

In summer, it might be less, in winter, it would be more. That included a mortgage payment of $292.00 per month on $50,000 amortized over 25 years.

Now, buying a trailer is different. The lot fees run anywhere from $350.00 a month up to over four hundred, possibly higher depending on where you live. This includes the lease and water, as well as the property taxes. 
If nothing else, you get a place to live out of it.

You can get a trailer for as little as $6-12,000, and I have looked at trailers in the $27,000 range. I’ve seen them as high as $72,000. The six thousand dollar one was a wreck. It had been gutted inside. As soon as I bought it, it would have been condemned.

There would still be heat, hydro, and obviously home insurance is a must if you have a mortgage—that only makes sense.

My home insurance went from $220.00 a year when I moved in, (in 1999) up to about $465.00 four years later. One month (February) in winter I had a $270.00 gas bill. For two months in the summer, there was no gas bill. Then I could at least eat.

Trailers are nowhere as well insulated as the typical home as the walls are only two inches thick.

Even so, they are smaller and the heating would be less, on average. The hydro might be less, but typically I run one or two lights, a computer, and air conditioning in summer. I’m fairly frugal in that regard, and I do have some respect for this planet, and never run Christmas lights, and all that sort of thing.

When I owned that home, my property taxes went from about $1,400 a year to over $1,800.00 a year within four years. I once used eleven dollars worth of water in a six-month billing period but the bill was more like two hundred due to all the ‘hidden’ charges.

Poverty is endemic to our system. It’s built in. My sister was shocked at that tax rate incidentally, as she only pays about $1,200 a year for a small bungalow similar to the one I had, but my name is Mudd in this town. 

You can attempt to appeal to the property tax assessment people, which is a provincial agency, even though property taxes are a municipal affair.

(Good luck on that, by the way.)

Municipal taxes have provincial sanction ever since the province downloaded certain costs of social programs onto the municipality.

Bureaucratic harassment of the disabled is also endemic here in Ontario, which is in Canada, one of the greatest countries in the world by all accounts.

I had no problem renting my present pad.

My credit checked out, and in fact my credit rating is surprisingly high for a guy on ODSP. That’s because I am a responsible adult and I pay my bills first and eat later.

In some sense, ODSP subsidizes landlords. They know it is a secure and steady income (disability is for life) even though the bank sees it as high risk.

(I don’t know if anyone has ever escaped the ODSP, but as an officer and a gentleman, my duty is to escape.)

(Or at least give ‘em hell whenever I can.)

You can’t really get a mortgage on a trailer.

That’s because it’s movable and the bank figures you’ll stop paying and drag the thing off somewhere else, an expensive process involving permits and fees and of course the cost of the contractor. It’s helpful if you have someplace to go.

I once signed up for geared to income housing. I’m not stupid, and I thought it was the right thing to do, according to all conventional wisdom. And almost two years went by. We took all the ‘facts’ into account.

When we knew my old man was going into the old age home and his house was to be sold, I called the Sarnia-Lambton Housing Authority.

I had been told the waiting period was about two years for a single person. My number was supposed to come up in ‘May or June’ according to them, right?

We kept my old man in his own home as long as we possibly could, and it was reaching a crisis point. We did the best we could for him. He went into the old age home in February 2011.

So I called up, as my old man’s house sale was closing July 15—I lived there in the basement while looking after him—and they told me something special.

They said they wouldn’t have anything until September or October.

I had no choice but to rent an apartment, right? Geared to income housing is pegged at one-third of income. 

Now I pay, according to my calculations, more like sixty percent of my income—rich people are smarter than that, as I’m sure most will agree.

Imagine my disgust when I had moved into my apartment, and paid over $1,500 up front to move in. 

Imagine my disgust when there was a noise problem from the landlord’s kid, living below me rent-free while he saved up to go to university. I was paying all the costs of the house I was in, with some left over, probably a couple of grand a year, for clear ‘profit.’

I paid first and last, and of course the landlord wanted thirty days notice of leaving, oh, yeah, and one week later, the Housing people were calling my alternate number, i.e. my mom’s place, and they said they had a placement for me.

One week later, ladies and gentlemen. That’s why I call them bad things.

I sent the Housing Authority a letter stating that if they ever tried to contact me or my family again, I would call the police and charge them with criminal harassment.

Don’t you ever talk to me about a ‘sense of entitlement.’

All human beings are entitled to food, shelter and clothing. That’s the position of the United Nations and I won’t contradict them because they are big, important people who wear suits and ties and make the papers every stinking day.

Some would argue that everything we do in life involves some moral choice. I would retort that back on the government, this city, the bourgeoisie and anyone else who will listen.

If you don’t like that, you can pull a black hood over your face, and come around here and kill me.

You see how it is, don’t you?

I know who you are.

It is never a mistake to stand up for the disabled, the mentally ill, the working poor, and plenty of other unfortunate people in this town, your town, any town you care to name.

I live in Ontario. Someday I will tell you about how the pigs got me out of that house. Perhaps someone else will tell the story, but I doubt if they have the fuckin’ balls.

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