City staff may take over af­ford­able hous­ing wait­ing list

The Peterborough Examiner - - LOCAL - JOELLE KO­VACH EX­AM­INER STAFF WRITER joelle.ko­[email protected]­ter­bor­ough­daily.com

Home­less peo­ple have “al­most non-ex­is­tent” ac­cess to rent­geared-to-in­come apart­ments in Peter­bor­ough be­cause they aren’t at the top of the wait­ing list for so­cial hous­ing, a con­sul­tant says — but that could be about to change.

On Mon­day, city coun­cil will re­view a staff rec­om­men­da­tion to take over ad­min­is­tra­tion of the wait­ing list from the city’s provider of so­cial hous­ing, Peter­bor­ough Hous­ing Cor­po­ra­tion.

If coun­cil de­cides to fol­low that rec­om­men­da­tion, the next step will be to have staff re­view how that list func­tions.

Un­der the cur­rent sys­tem, peo­ple are of­fered so­cial hous­ing on a first-come-first-served ba­sis, Ot­tawa-based con­sul­tant Tracy Fla­herty-Will­mott said at re­cent com­mit­tee meet­ing at city hall.

If coun­cil has “the po­lit­i­cal will” to put home­less peo­ple to the top of the pri­or­ity list, she said, it could go a long way to­ward the city’s goal of erad­i­cat­ing home­less­ness in Peter­bor­ough by 2025.

Coun­cil­lors will hear a pre­sen­ta­tion from Fla­herty-Will­mott’s firm, OrgCode Con­sult­ing Inc., on Mon­day night at a gen­eral com­mit­tee meet­ing.

OrgCode was hired a year ago by the city to ex­am­ine lo­cal home­less­ness and rec­om­mend so­lu­tions.

Coun­cil­lors will also re­view a sep­a­rate staff rec­om­men­da­tion on Mon­day to take over the so­cial hous­ing wait­ing list from PHC by June 30.

The idea is to give the city “di­rect con­trol” over the wait-list for more than 1,500 units of rent-geared-to-in­come hous­ing that the city funds and op­er­ates, states the new city staff re­port.

The OrgCode re­port was com­pleted in spring, be­fore the home­less en­camp­ments in Vic­to­ria Park and at St. John’s Angli­can Church came to be set up.

The en­camp­ments were set up af­ter the July 1 clo­sure of the Warm­ing Room home­less shel­ter, which had been housed nearby in the base­ment of Mur­ray Street Bap­tist Church.

The church base­ment needed ex­ten­sive ren­o­va­tions, so the shel­ter closed. Now city coun­cil has ap­proved a plan to ren­o­vate the din­ing hall of the church to make it safe for use as a dor­mi­tory this win­ter.

Al­though it’s un­clear when the din­ing hall might be ready for night­time oc­cu­pancy, the city cur­rently has emer­gency cots in the lower-level au­di­to­rium of the Peter­bor­ough Public Li­brary.

The largest en­camp­ment this sum­mer was at Vic­to­ria Park, which is owned by Peter­bor­ough County.

Nei­ther the city nor the county had by­laws at the time to ex­plic­itly ban overnight camp­ing in parks. In Au­gust, both city and county coun­cils adopted no-camp­ing by­laws.

Faced with evic­tion on Aug. 27, half the campers at Vic­to­ria Park left, say­ing they would couch-surf with friends.

The rest went up the street and pitched tents at Em­manuel United Church, where they camped with clergy per­mis­sion un­til it got cold at the end of Septem­ber.

As that camp was dis­man­tled, many campers said they would also couch-surf.

The en­camp­ment at St. John’s Angli­can Church has dwin­dled from 18 in sum­mer to about two now; church of­fi­cials have been help­ing peo­ple find shel­ter.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.