Lo­cal hous­ing short­age ‘se­vere’

1,508 peo­ple on lo­cal wait­ing list for so­cial hous­ing face waits up to 11 years

The Peterborough Examiner - - Front Page - JOELLE KOVACH Examiner Staff Writer

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.

CLIF­FORD SKARSTEDT EXAMINER

Toronto MP Adam Vaughan and Peter­bor­ough-Kawartha MP Maryam Mon­sef dur­ing the Peter­bor­ough-Kawartha Hous­ing Sum­mit on Thurs­day.

CLIF­FORD SKARSTEDT EXAMINER

Dorothy Tay­lor of Curve Lake First Na­tion does an open­ing prayer at the Hous­ing Sum­mit Thurs­day.

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