Residents of a downtown Guelph building are expressing concern over safety in their building.

Alicia Lee lives at the subsidized apartment building on Woolwich Street.

She says the stairwells are trashed and that she often finds people sleeping there.

“We need to do something about this and I don't care if it's housing, I don't care if we live downtown, there's no excuse for this stuff going on at all,” Lee says.

Photos she took appear to show garbage, personal belongings and drug paraphernalia littering a graffiti-covered stairwell.

“We certainly acknowledge the problem and the concern it presents to our tenants,” explains Art Kollee, president of the board of directors for Matrix Non-Profit Housing, which owns the building.

“It’s very aggravating because we’ve taken lots of steps to try to minimize the occurrence but we will keep working away to eliminate or minimize such activities,” he says.

There are locks, keypads and fobs to get into the building, but people still manage to get inside..

Kollee says that people will follow behind residents to get inside the building before migrating to the stairwell, which are fairly secluded.

He says that the board is working on putting a gateway in place to limit access to the stairwell and that he hopes to have video surveillance soon, but that these things come at a cost.

“The cleanup, when events occur such as graffiti and removal of drug paraphernalia, that has to come out of our operating budget, and permanent solutions such as a gate that will limit access into the stairwells, that has to come out of our capital reserves,” he says.

The County of Wellington provides funding for social housing providers like Matrix to provide rental subsidies to their tenants.

They are concerned about the situation and say they are ready to help.

“It has been unauthorized people that have been entering the building, so really looking at what can be done around security to prevent that from happening,” says Ryan Pettipiere, director of housing for Wellington County.

The stairwell had been cleared had been cleared by Thursday afternoon, but Lee says she wouldn’t be surprised if it was being inhabited again by later that evening.

With reporting from Marta Czurylowicz