Local housing shortage ‘severe’
1,508 people on local waiting list for social housing face waits up to 11 years
There are now 1,508 people are on a waiting list for social housing in Peterborough, said an analyst at City Hall — and at the current rate, the wait is nine to 11 years long.
Sandy Woodhouse, a policy analyst for the housing division at City Hall, said the need for housing in Peterborough city and county is “severe.”
Woodhouse was speaking at a summit on housing and homelessness organized by Status of Women Minister and Peterborough-Kawartha MP Maryam Monsef at The Mount Community Centre on Thursday.
There were about 65 people in a packed room to hear more about how Peterborough is facing a one per cent apartment vacancy rate — and what can be done about it.
There were people there from agencies such as the United Way, YES Shelter, Brock Mission and One Roof Community Centre.
There were also developers, builders and elected officials there (Coun. Diane Therrien, Coun. Keith Riel and Peterborough County Warden Joe Taylor, for instance).
Woodhouse mentioned that the city has a 10-year
plan to decrease homelessness between 2014 and 2024.
City workers will soon review how effective the plan has been in its first five years, she said.
A staff report is due in June 2019 — halfway through the 10year period — to update city council and citizens on progress.
One of the toughest challenges facing Peterborough is low income, Woodhouse said: the average income here is 22 per cent lower than the Ontario average, and 17 per cent lower than the Canadian average.
Meanwhile the cost of an average house in Peterborough has increased by $100,000 over the last four years, she said, making home-ownership unaffordable for some.
Another speaker was SpadinaFort York MP Adam Vaughan, the parliamentary secretary to the Families, Children and Social Development (Housing and Urban Affairs) Minister Jean-Yves Duclos.
Vaughan said that when roughly 2,000 in Peterborough need housing, that’s 2,000 people held back from contributing to the community to their full potential.
“That’s a huge challenge for a small to mid-sized community,” he said.
Monsef asked Vaughan how the city might approach the challenge, given that there’s a lack of available land for home building.
Vaughan said that one approach taken in downtown Toronto was to map all the publicly owned land, including streets, schools, parking lots, roads and alleyways.
Then consider whether public property — closed schools, for example — can be retrofitted for housing.
“If schools are emptying out, the reality is you can repopulate them,” Vaughan said. “There are ways of bringing different partners to the table.”
Monsef pointed out that The Mount — a former convent that has been converted, in part, into apartments — is an example of innovative thinking that brings about new housing.
She said she thinks that kind of innovation can repeat itself in Peterborough.
“I look forward to us being an example of further success stories,” Monsef said.
Toronto MP Adam Vaughan and Peterborough-Kawartha MP Maryam Monsef during the Peterborough-Kawartha Housing Summit on Thursday.
Dorothy Taylor of Curve Lake First Nation does an opening prayer at the Housing Summit Thursday.