A newcomer to Canada, Zakeria is a resident of the inner suburb of Rexdale, where he lives in an aging high-rise building with his family. After facing repeated vandalism and security issues, he’s calling for change in his area in the form of renewed resident participation. As Zakeria explains, for things to get better, we all need to start redefining the concept of community at its roots.
“There are two buildings here, and every building contains about 200 apartments, so these buildings should be considered a small town.” —Zakeria Saleh
When Zakeria Saleh came to Canada from Egypt three years ago with his wife and four children, he chose—like many other newcomers do—to live in one of the many high-rises scattered throughout Toronto’s inner suburbs. He anticipated facing challenges in his new home—like language barriers, cultural differences and finding employment—but what Zakeria didn’t expect was that he’d experience vandalism, broken-down elevators and security issues in his aging residence.
“Two things happened to me. One is that someone tried, frequently, to vandalize my car. The other thing is elevator issues. These two things can be considered issues of safety and security,” he explains. According to United Way Toronto’s new report, Vertical Poverty, Zakeria is not alone in his experiences.
Findings in the report show that in Rexdale 44% of high-rise tenants reported vandalism and graffiti as an issue, and more than half of all tenants reported frequent elevator problems. Zakeria thinks that unless real action is taken to permanently resolve these issues, tenants in his high-rise will continue to face difficulties.
View the full report: Poverty by Postal Code 2: Vertical Poverty