We spoke with the guy behind the Parkdale gentrifier crowdfunder, who is very serious
Todd Ferguson started a tongue-in-cheek campaign to support his fellow elites from the "lawless savages" in Parkdale.
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A feature Toronto Life article about the “nightmare reno” of a Parkdale “crackhouse” has inspired a big backlash on social media. Critics say the first-person story of a family buying a three-storey corner lot is clueless, out-of-touch and classist. Parts of the article refer to “anti-capitalist graffiti” left in the home, and the challenge of evicting tenants.
Metro reached out to Catherine Jheon, the writer of the article.
In an email, she wrote:
"My article was meant to be about a renovation and our fairly dramatic mistakes along the way. I have listened to the feedback. I understand why the story and my insensitive descriptions triggered anger around real issues of affordable housing, homelessness and more. I'm going to take some time to reflect on everything that has happened."
The article also spurred local man Todd Ferguson to start a tongue-in-cheek GoFundMe campaign to support Parkdale’s “brave gentrifier family” to help them through their real estate turmoil. Metro had an interesting conversation with Ferguson and his outrage.
Metro: What was your initial reaction to the Toronto Life article?
Ferguson: My first reaction was shock and outrage! That these people would have to go to that much trouble to build up their real estate portfolio in Toronto.
And you don’t think that’s fair.
Certainly not. Imagine having to get rid of some of your real estate portfolio to buy a seven-figure mansion in Parkdale. That is something that should be within the reach of all Torontonians.
Clearly it’s not. Why did you want to create this GoFundMe campaign?
Sir, I am but a humble member of the Toronto elite -- the better class of this fine city. And I felt compelled to support this young struggling family in their efforts to establish a pioneering civilizing front in the wilds of Parkdale. I don’t know if you’re aware of this, sir, but even as we speak there are lawless savages in Parkdale refusing to pay rent to a corporate landlord.
Lawless savages. I don’t know how else to describe someone who refuses to obey the law (and) pay rent merely because nothing in the apartment functions properly and is infested with rodents.
Don’t they have a right to a roof over their head too?
I’m sure you’ll agree with me that society has no obligation to pay for people’s living. I mean, it’s a shame we got rid of poor houses several years ago, because then they’d have a place to go. But I’d encourage these people to take the example of the Humphreys-Jheon family and pull themselves up by the bootstraps, possibly with the help of a wealthy uncle that’s willing to loan them a six-figure amount.
So your solution is that the squatters who formerly resided in this Parkdale house should find a wealthy uncle, too.
They could do that, or perhaps they could save money for a place to call their own if they stopped spending on avocado toast.
So then the squatters are in that position because of bad life choices?
I’m absolutely saying that it’s because of bad life choices. They can’t point their fingers to society and blame society for their ills.
So far you’ve raised more than $1,800 on the GoFundMe campaign.
Oh, that’s good news. My butler hasn’t updated me on this.
There is a little bit to go. Unfortunately, if we don’t reach the $730,000 goal I will be contributing the proceeds in four equal portions to Toronto agencies that apparently advocate for the rights of tenants in housing matters. It’s a way to placate the riff-raff, if you will.
How will you be proving that you’ll be donating the proceeds?
Well sir, I’d like to point out that I’m a man of my word -- anyone at the country club will be able to tell you that. Second of all, I plan to close this campaign down after a few weeks, and then I’ll have my chauffeur drive me to either the Humphreys-Jheon residence, or to the four agencies, where I’ll be personally delivering the cheque.
What would you want to pass on to the Humphreys-Jheon family?
I would want the Humphreys-Jheon family to know that the Toronto elite stands with them in their attempt to establish a pioneering wedge in the lawless wasteland that is Parkdale.
You can boost the crowdfunding campaign here.
If the crowdfunder to support the Humphreys-Jheon family doesn’t reach its $730,000 goal, the money will be distributed evenly between Parkdale Community Legal Services, The Advocacy Centre for Tenants Ontario, The Federation of Metro Tenants' Associations, and ACORN Canada, says creator Todd Ferguson.
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