It has been almost a year since Carol and I bought our first house in the inner-city neighbourhood of Caswell Hill. Now I almost hesitate to say we are in the “inner city.” We are probably one of the longer term residents on our side of the street. Our house was one of 6 that changed hands since last October. All but one of these houses was not occupied by the owners and now all of them are occupied by their owners.
One of my neighbours fled as soon as he could get a price for his house and they moved out shortly after we moved in. He told me the area wasn’t quiet enough for him. Initially I could see why. There was a lot of pedestrian traffic and a number of those pedestrians didn’t look like fine upright citizens. 15 minutes after I decided the last condition was to be removed from our offer I saw someone arrested by the phone booth outside a small grocery store about 100 ft from our house.
This summer I watched people file in and out of a two story drug house visible from my veranda. The house has no real yard to speak of. The upper suite was where the commercial activity occurred. All day long people walked to the rear of the house and ascended a poorly constructed wood covered external stairway. They would reappear a few minutes later. Most the dealer’s clients were on foot. Some were probably prostitutes based on how they were dressed.
I saw the police raid the house twice. A neighbourhood kid with his own sad past came over to chat while the dealer was being arrested. I commented on how long it took. My young friend began to explain to me that it can take a long time to get arrested. I told him that I wouldn’t know as I had never been arrested. He didn’t believe me. Apparently in his world everyone gets arrested eventually.
The drug house is now boarded up. It has been deemed unsafe for human occupation. This is the last of the drug houses that were in operation around my house not so long ago. The landlords have kicked out the tenants and sold the homes for a profit. There is a visible decrease in the amount of interesting looking people walking around.
This is all fine and good as far as property values and safety goes. I wonder where all the renters have moved to. As Caswell Hill appreciates in value most of the properties would need to be rented at $1200 a month to make the payments on a mortgage and pay the property taxes.