Politics A big Humber College sign looms behind houses in the Rexdale area. If you were a resident of the area, you might perceive this as impending doom -- but students say that is just how Rexdale is.

Published on November 30, 2016 | by Aastha Shetty     Photography by Shaee Martin


Toronto councilor: illegal student houses are disrupting the peace in Rexdale

Students are renting illegal rooming houses to compete with a lack of alternatives according to one Toronto city councilor.

Some residents of the Etobicoke area have serious concerns regarding the increase in illegal rooming houses and blame the growing population of students.

The city of Toronto defines a rooming house as a building that is occupied by more than three unrelated people, with shared kitchen and sanitary facilities. Rooming houses are required to have a license to be able to operate legally.

By large, students are great. It’s just a small group, I guess, but there are issues. I’ve had people call and tell me that they can’t sleep, that they’ve got young children and [they are] afraid to let them play outside,” Councilor Vincent Crisanti, who represents his area in Ward 1 (Etobicoke) said. “People say that allegedly, students are walking down the street, drinking beers and causing issues in the community.”

However, in an annual housing review by the city of Toronto, researchers found that the residents of Etobicoke “have expressed far less concern about illegal rooming houses.”

Regardless, Etobicoke resident Wanda Wloch said that rooming houses are a great problem in the area. She said she has seen students walking around drunk, and that they are notorious for disturbing the peace.

A student who requested to remain anonymous because he fears reprisals from the community doesn’t believe “the people disturbing the peace” are students.

I live in an illegal house, where am I supposed to go if they kick us out?” he said.

Other students took to a Facebook page called Spotted at Humber, and said that they would like to see rooming houses regulated in another way.

I really don’t see college students out late at night drunk, not unless they want to get mugged or stabbed,” Guelph-Humber student Taylor Clysdale wrote.

Humber student Taylor Renwick said that “having random police inspections for student housing sounds like [something from] 1984,” referring to the dystopian novel by George Orwell, that dabbles with the idea of the government scrutinizing human action as a “Big Brother.”

Renwick compared that to Crisanti’s suggestions for a new policy to “crack-down” on illegal rooming houses.

The councilor believed the college “has the land to make more residence space. If the college doesn’t take steps to acknowledge that they’re growing, then we need to do something about that.”

Crisanti said the solution is to do random checks on rooming houses in the Etobicoke area. He said that even though students may find it controversial, random police checks will ensure they have a safe environment to live in.

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is a student journalist and she would like to work for the big leagues one day. Sometimes she writes poems, experiments with graphic design or polishes her photography skills. Sometimes she says "f@$% it!!" and watches 12 hours of Dr. Phil reruns on YouTube.

3 Responses to Toronto councilor: illegal student houses are disrupting the peace in Rexdale

  1. Brittany says:

    The problem isn’t that there aren’t enough rooms in Residence, even if they build more Residence buildings a lot of us students simply can’t afford the cost of residence so we turn to student housing as a cheaper alternative. The students who look for a student houses aren’t aware of the illegal and legal rules and regulations of student housing either, i lived in what I believe to be an illegal house last year, it was terrible, this year I am in a much safer, legal house. There isn’t a way for us to know what kind of situation the house is in or what will come of it. As for the rowdiness of ‘all of us’, people are complaining about a small number of students who are loud on the streets- IT ISNT ALL OF US. It’s the same with the issue regarding ‘safety’, Rexdale is unsafe because of other crime NOT involving the students of Humber, we know how sketchy and dangerous it can be sometimes, again it’s not us creating the danger. It isn’t Humber’s responsibility to make sure the student houses are legal, it’s the landlords of the student houses. As well the students should be made more aware of what is legal and illegal regarding student houses so we know how and when we should report something.

    We want legal student houses just as much as everyone else, but blaiming the students is NOT going to solve anything.

  2. Taylor says:

    I’m a former graduate from Humber College North Campus, and this really surprises me. When my friends and I were looking for places to rent at the end of pur first year, a lot of landlords would not accept students, making it even more difficult to find somewhere to live. As a result we all ended up having to apply to live in residence again which is extremely expensive. I get that sometimes landlords don’t want students to ruin their homes, but most of them wouldn’t even bother to meet you to see if you woud be a suitable fit as a renter. I also know for a fact that these “rougher neighborhood” renters, the landlords may as well be called slumlords. A lot of the homes are not clean, well maintained and students are forced to deal with it because it’s theironly option. Maybe they should focus more on the actual cause behind this issue as opposed to making it the students faults.

    And to add to all of this, living in that neighborhood for 2 years, there is a lot of more terrible things happening than a few drunk students walking home safely or walking home from the bar. It wasn’t a surprise to hear that people got shot, stabbed, sexually assaulted and anything else you can think of in that area. And from what I heard about those situations it wasn’t students causing those issues. In my final year (earlier this year) I recall of hearing about 3-4 crimes within a 7 day span. Most of my friends would never walk anywhere alone after dark, because people were too afraid. And in the residential neighborhood across from the school someone had been shot in their own driveway with a shotgun over a drug deal. One of my friends who I worked with lived only a few houses down from this home (no students lived there), and somehow these students had to get through the rest of the school year in hopes that they were safe.

    With all due respect to the housing situation it could very well be an issue. However don’t put an entire blanket over Humber Students and how their an issue, when there are much bigger problems about the area.

  3. Bill says:

    I got out of Rexdale after living their for two years. One on residence, and one in one of these “illegal” houses, but farther from Humber than the places mentioned in the article (Martin Grove & John Garland area). I can say from experience that the small radius around Humber that is densely populated with students is where Rexdale feels at it’s safest.

    The families and parents of Rexdale cancomplain about “rowdy kids” all they want, but in reality if Rexdale is ever going to be a more attractive and safe place to be, it’s going to rely on the growth of the Humber North campus, which is the only thing that brings anyone to this distant north-west corner of Toronto.

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