Every Friday, my brother and I would join our father in their villa in Vico. He was sick and had little income, so our place in the family was low. I don’t care if our business seems nobler to you. There is no better system than another when it comes to having a roof over your head. I only highlighted it so that you know, although with a little yo-yo context, these weeks in HLM are among the most beautiful of my life.
Our small private courtyard opens onto a common lot adjacent to the river. My brother once pitched a tent there for outdoor adventures. Fortunately, the fence is long, so that we do not get wet with polluted water.
After our accommodation, the park was enclosed between four residential buildings. There I wrote my first novel – Complexity, Love, and Political Ambition, in the 13th century. The ten-page story was never published, but note that his only reader (my neighbor Maxime) found it “still good.”
What touches me most when I think of those years is that my friends were always with us. I might be ashamed to show them that our kingdom was built on poverty (especially since they came from wealthier families), but I don’t think I ever felt the slightest shame. It is true that they felt good there, and so;
Our comfortable home was not decorated, it was the world inside. Love is pregnant even in the walls.
Quite frankly, I knew we lived there because we would never want to live anywhere else, but we didn’t guess the weight of the precariousness. I felt like growing up in a tightly knit mini-village. A village whose resilience breaks my heart today.
How many parents, living in a row, how could they meet the needs of the little ones? How many separately seniors? Or of the people who deviated from the way, who could be one? We were driven out of the people gathered from the road, which could be the right one?
My HLM allowed me to meet early.
There were children who would play on the edge of the fence lest their father be a drinker or find some innocence in their daily life, which certainly was not full. Even when you are young, your face is tired. I quickly realized that not everyone starts from the same place in life. When death was carried in vain, we were at home among the sweet ones.
There was a consensus in our HLM.
Our elderly neighbor caught up with our insomnia. I sometimes babysat the son of a single mother who needed a break, on the other hand. Every summer, the community worker formed part of the local youth. Because of her, I learned how to make papier-mâché pinatas and make the crowd happy.
All that matters, no neighborhood matters. Probably. But I think of coherence differently, when it comes from injury to injury. We were all delusional. We knew we had a chance with each other.
I left a broken home 16 years ago when my father left this earth. I went back there for the first time, last summer… The place seemed to me damaged. Much more than I remember.
I do not know whether this is because the boy’s eyes hid the fall, or if it is because the place has really fallen, but one thing is certain: the love that I had injected into the walls is not enough to keep the days worthy.
Then this week in my papers I learned that: “More than 40% of the homes in the province’s 65,000 residents are rated D or E, indicating they need more work,” according to the Low Income Tenants Federation. Quebec housing and advisory council for residents of the municipal housing office of Montreal.
I also learned in this article from Isabella Ducas: “As more and more housing becomes uninhabitable in aging HLMs, government funds allocated to renovation continue to decline: it went from an annual average of 352 million between 2015 and 2019; to 281 million per year between 2019 and 2022 according to FLHLMQ.”
Without a direct connection between my memory and the recent state of HLM that saw me grow, I immediately felt the need to remember how important these environments are.
Of course, not only do they hide a life as sweet as mine. I know that poverty is a contributing factor to many inequalities, violence and excesses… But I also know that many HLM tenants would benefit from the resources offered by skilled community workers and from an industry that understands their reality a little better. continuing to divide it into pieces.
Beyond the right housing they provide, HLMs are places that can create networks to lean on when you feel like the world has let you down.