Katarokwi Union of Tenants (KUT) Statement on Kingston Frontenac Housing Corporation (KFHC)
October 6, 2021
The continuous failure of Kingston Frontenac Housing Corporation (KFHC) to respond to tenant concerns has prompted the Katarokwi Union of Tenants (KUT) to call for the resignation of the current CEO of KFHC, Mary Lynn Cousins Brame, and for the City of Kingston to implement major structural changes to KFHC governance and management.
In the last several months, we have witnessed and heard about numerous tenant concerns with their units, and a lack of response and compassion from KFHC management. These problems, which have been documented in the media, include bedbug and cockroach infestations, safety concerns due to lack of outdoor lighting, broken mailboxes, mould, cracked and crumbling ceilings, backed up drains, flooding, cracked and lifting floor and bathroom tiles, broken baseboards, broken window screens, rust, blood stains in hallways, exploding hot water tanks, and early withdrawal of rent money.
One of the major concerns we have heard from tenants is that KFHC staff do not respond to maintenance requests, even after several (in some cases more than 20) complaints are filed through the proper channels. The KFHC Chair noted that a Tenant Advisory Council exists, but has been unable to meet due to COVID restrictions. However, tenants say they have not been notified that such a council exists. CEO Cousins Brame has claimed that the organization deals with the “bricks and mortar” issues, but lacks funding to adequately respond to maintenance issues. The media reports demonstrate a series of misdirections and avoidances from KFHC that result in a continued neglect of tenant safety and security.
In addition to these concerns, KFHC took rent out of tenants’ bank accounts a week before it was due in late July. The Kingstonist rightly pointed out that CEO Cousins Brame initially said this was a bank error, but the KFHC Chair said it was an internal Financial Team error, leaving tenants wondering what actually happened.
Tenants are dealing with a large, publicly-funded housing corporation that is forcing them to live in unsafe, unhealthy conditions and subjecting them to unnecessary and unjust financial burdens that are completely avoidable.
KFHC needs to change. We know that KFHC management has neglected tenants’ concerns for several years. The City hired a consulting firm in 2009 to investigate KFHC operations, resulting in a report that noted the organization had “limited representation of tenants on the Board or committees,” management was not present enough at building sites, and services had been reduced. The report recommended that KFHC “create meaningful opportunities for greater tenant engagement and decision-making.” This was 12 years ago, and we continue to see KFHC management neglect tenant concerns, and a total lack of democratic, responsive organization.
For these reasons, in response to the neglect, mismanagement, and general lack of compassion from the KFHC toward tenants, the Katarokwi Union of Tenants (KUT) immediately calls for the following changes:
1) CEO Cousins Brame's immediate resignation.
2) Dismissal of the current Board of Directors of KFHC.
3) Establishment of a democratic ownership and management structure for KFHC with direct decision-making power for tenants.
4) Restoration of municipally-owned and operated maintenance and repair, as well as a pest-control unit capable of addressing the existing issues.
5) Immediate boost in the funding for the KFHC that will address all immediate maintenance and security requests of tenants.
6) Inspection of all buildings and upgrades to bring all units up to code.
7) Construction of enough socially-owned and rent-geared-to-income units to accommodate all currently unhoused individuals and those on the City's Social Housing Registry.