Skip to main content

Laszlo Sarkozi lives in a two-bedroom apartment with three siblings and his parents.Kevin Van Paassen/The Globe and Mail

This story is part of Crossings, a series chronicling the global refugee and migrant experience. Follow the series and add your thoughts on Facebook and Twitter with the hashtag #GlobeCrossings.

Name: Laszlo Sarkozi

Age: 16

Home country: Hungary

Upon arriving as asylum seekers, Laszlo and his family initially took up shelter at the Roycroft Motel, a drab place on noisy Kingston Road. But after several months of sharing a cramped room with his parents and two younger brothers, it was time to move on.

This story is part of Crossings, a series chronicling the global refugee and migrant experience. Follow the series and add your thoughts on Facebook and Twitter with the hashtag #GlobeCrossings

The Sarkozis, who were denied refugee status but were granted the right to stay on humanitarian and compassionate grounds, have called three places home in the five years they have been in Toronto, all of them in the eastern part of the city known as Scarborough. Laszlo, now 16, describes each:

The first apartment, it had bedbugs – the entire building. And just the general area was not very child-friendly. I remember walking to school once and there were drops of blood on the sidewalk, like someone had been stabbed. The police were called a couple of times for a few people who were always hanging out right beside the building. There was always a lot of screaming.

The second place [near Eglinton Avenue and Kingston Road] was much better. It was a townhouse. But the owners did not like us at all. We asked them to change the lock. They didn't change the lock. We actually were living under the same lock as the previous people and they could have easily come in and opened the door any time. We asked them to fix the windows because they were not keeping cold air out properly. They didn't. And when we asked them how much hydro would be, they said the bill should be $100, $150 every two months. No matter how much we conserved, it ended up being $1,000 or $1,500.

Our place now is a two-bedroom apartment. It's farther from my school, though – the trip takes about 45 minutes. My two younger brothers and I share a room, and in the other room is my two parents and my little sister, who was born in Canada. It's not as bad as our first apartment, in terms of the neighbourhood. But I think it's too small. And there's actually been a shooting here. Bullets were fired and the police came out. Our building was surrounded by yellow tape. This is not the best neighbourhood either, but that kind of stuff doesn't happen here that often.

As told to Wency Leung.