Discrimination and Stigma: Barriers to Housing
Many of our storytellers have experienced barriers living and working in their home countries, in places they lived during their migration journey and in Toronto. Basic necessities like housing and safety have not always been afforded to them due to political marginalization, racism, xenophobia, and housing discrimination. John Yohan reflects on how some people in his native Saudi Arabia were robbed of the right to housing. Wolde Yohannis’ story of fleeing political instability, from Ethiopia to Rome, then to Montreal and, eventually, to Toronto demonstrates the multiple barriers faced by migrants. Both Wolde and Harriet Sheppard remark on the common experience of adjusting to high-rise living in Toronto, the importance of access to affordable housing, and how neighborhood change could threaten it.
Whether it was the house that we were living in, the landlord may kick us out and just put in another person who has a higher income. There were no fair rights. There was no equality at all.
— John Yohan (on immigrants in Saudi Arabia)
I came into Toronto Community Housing. And I had no idea as to what the stigma was… In a way, I’m glad that I didn’t know that, because it would have prohibited me from actually being able to see the goodness in Toronto.
— Harriet Sheppard
A lot of immigrants that come in, we’re not accustomed to live in an apartment. This is a real big thing for us..A lot of us live in houses, right? Not necessarily that you had two or three people in the house. You could have ten people in the house, but it was never the thing. When everything is flat you tend to be able to walk and have that conversation.
— Harriet Sheppard
It’s a very immigrant friendly area. A great place to make home. It looks like the new train is coming, which is good. But, at the same time, there’s a price to pay for it. Not only the construction, but the rent. The rent is going to go up for sure.
— Wolde Yohannis