The long wait for an affordable place to live in Brantford is leaving some people feeling hopeless of ever finding a suitable home.
“I have received many calls from people wondering whether or not they should bother putting their name back on the list (for affordable housing),” said Coun. Jan Vanderstelt at this week’s city council meeting. “They call me back every year and ask the same question, ‘What’s the point?’”
Deb Schlichter, Brantford’s manager of housing programs, said that the number of people on the wait list has decreased from an all-time high in 2018 but single people who aren’t seniors can still wait for eight to 12 years for a one-bedroom unit. Others, including families and seniors, wait less time.
“For some people, it seems very hopeless because the prospect of getting a home is so delayed,” said Schlichter. “Where there is some hope is that we now have a few other options we can use to help people.”
A total of 1,422 households are currently on the wait list for geared-to-income affordable housing units in Brantford and Brant County. That’s down from more than 1,700 in 2018.
But Schlichter said the wait list may not be the best measure of demand for housing and may not include all the people looking for an affordable place to live.
“The wait times are very much a disincentive for people to even want to bother filling out an application,” she said. “The length of time waiting, to me, is a better measure than the actual number of people on the wait list because, ideally, it shouldn’t be a long wait period.”
Schlichter said the city is seeing little movement now in housing in general due to the pandemic and the Ontario government freezing rent at 2020 levels.
She said some relief will come from the Canada-Ontario Housing Benefit program, which will allow some people, including those at imminent risk of homelessness, to find affordable housing without being on the waitlist.
Responding to a question from Coun. Richard Carpenter, Schlichter said there is concern about tenants being evicted from their homes once the province reopens the economy and Tribunals Ontario is again operating up to speed.
“A lot of families we’re seeing are coming to us with urgent needs because they have 30 or 60 days to find housing,” she said.
At the same time, the city has a “bold goal” of creating 506 new municipally owned affordable housing units over a 10-year period, which started last year, said Marlene Miranda, Brantford’s general manager of community services and social development.
Miranda said that, if all developments move forward as planned, 179 units will be completed or underway by the end of the year.
Those projects include:
- 5 Marlene Avenue – 30 studio units of supportive housing, now fully occupied. Cost: $5.2 million.
- CASE Home – a tiny home four-plex pilot project underway at 18 Stirton Ave. Cost: $425,000.
- 177 Colborne St. West – 26 studio units currently under construction. Cost: $5.5 million.
- Trillium Way in Paris – a proposed project with 49 one- and two-bedroom units currently at the planning stage. Cost: $12.5 million.
- 346 Shellard Lane – a proposed project with 70 units currently at the planning stage. Part of the funding will come from the proposed sale of Arrowdale golf course land. Cost: $17.7 million.
Maryellen MacLellan, Brantford’s director of housing, said the proposed housing projects “will go a long way to housing the needy residents of Brantford and the County of Brant.”
Original Article: https://www.brantfordexpositor.ca/news/local-news/some-feel-hopeless-about-finding-affordable-housing