Illegal group home fire raising questions about housing
The provincial government is being pressed to act after Monday's fatal fire at an illegal group home in London.
Questions continue to mount about the Oxford Street East building after terrible living conditions and fire code violations were discovered.
The structure was home to 30 people with addiction issues, mental illnesses and developmental disabilities and on Friday, they were allowed back in to claim what belongings they could.
Lance Gilbert walks through the small basement apartment he shared with two other people and the dirty kitchen used to prepare meals.
He says "Half the time it's not enough food' so he will "go out and buy my own food from the grocery store," even though he's already paid for it as part of his rent.
Gilbert paid $850 a month to live in a building with broken doors, smashed lights and padlocks on bedroom doors.
He admits he thought bug infestations were normal, "My whole life I've never seen cockroaches...I thought it was a London problem, bugs in the city more."
The fire on Monday left one resident dead and another was treated for smoke inhalation.
As residents packed up, a new wing at Parkwood Hospital for the treatment of mental health conditions was being unveiled.
St. Joseph's Health Care CEO Gillian Kernaghan says "There is much more to do as our community witnessed this week. We need to go beyond 'Let's talk,' to 'Let's take action,' particularly in supportive and affordable housing."
London-Fanshawe NDP MPP Teresa Armstrong supports a call for a coroner's inquest into the death, and says she will press the province for better housing support.
"There is a lot of work in the community that we need to do. We need to make sure we have supports for people with mental health issues and access to safe housing."
While residents say they appreciate all they help they have received from agencies in the city, many say they still don't know where they will live long term.