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Habitations Plamondon
Seniors coming to terms with relocation
Article mis en ligne le jeudi 4 octobre 2012

Photo: Gerri Barrer

From left, Inna Tsyrkina, Elena Barkun, Habitations Plamondon tenants

Fears become reality for 76 senior citizens living at Habitations Plamondon

They knew as early as last April that there was a good chance they’d have to move when a serious mould infestation, affecting air quality and possibly causing respiratory problems, was discovered in their apartment building at 6550 Victoria Ave.

The Public Health Department identified 9 households where the residents’ health had been impacted. Five of them chose to move earlier this year.

The Office municipal d’habitation de Montréal (OMHM), which manages the city’s social housing projects, met with residents to tell them the contamination was deeply entrenched in the building’s exterior walls and inner gypsum. “We cannot sleep since the last meeting,” says 75-year-old Inna Tsyrkina. “It’s stressful for us. You understand what it is to move all our things?”

The OMHM initially tried to resolve the problem by redoing the roof and the ventilation system and cleaning the ducts. But the problem persisted.

“Once we found the mould in the exterior walls, we planned the reconstruction work,” says Serge Villandre, director of the southwest sector of the OMHM. It was decided to completely replace the masonry, the insulation and modernize the electromechanical systems.

Construction work will take 18 months to complete and involve noise, vibrations and dust. Removing the insulation will render the building uninhabitable, and all the residents must be moved to alternate social housing units.

Helena Barkan, 75, wants to stay in the Côte-des-Neiges area. “Our hospitals and family doctors and shops and everything are here,” she says. “At my age I should change everything? I’ve been living here 15 years.”

“It’s easier to go to the cemetery than to move,” quipped her husband.

The OMHM says it will do its best to accommodate the residents’ needs and desires in the relocation process and pay for moving expenses.

OMHM team members have already met individually with 50 of the 60 households at Habitations Plamondon. Many are accepting the fact that they have no choice but to move, and have asked for boxes to start packing.

Right now there are 40 social housing apartments available in Côte-des-Neiges, NDG and Ahuntsic.

As construction starts in the summer of 2013, the plan is to have everybody relocated by this winter. There is a priority list - first, those whose health is compromised; second, those 80 years old and over; third, those with the most seniority as tenants.

Habitations Plamondon should be ready again for residents by the fall of 2014. But Serge Villandre says that the seniors will not face a forced relocation again. “It’s not a must for them to come back if they prefer their new households. But they have the right to come back,” he says.

[ Gerri Barrer ]

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