The SCOOP // February / March 2019

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Creating Community Solutions to Provide a Home for All Katherine Burrows

H

ousing is a key measure of community success. Affordable housing may take many forms, but helping tenants achieve successful long-term housing depends on removing two key barriers. “Our focus is on removing not only barriers to affordability, but also barriers to healthy tenancy,” explains Annette Keogh, Manager of Prince Edward-Lennox & Addington Social Services (PELASS). As discussed in the December/January issue of The SCOOP, many people who are homeless or precariously housed are challenged by abuse/conflict with a family member, mental health issues, addiction/substance abuse, chronic/ acute illness, physical disability, and/or police interaction/incarceration. It is important to look at the whole person and not just their financial circumstances. Maintaining independence and basic dignity are key factors in successfully battling life’s challenges. When a person or family can access the support they need in all areas of their life, they are more likely to achieve success as a long-term tenant. Obviously, providing access to necessary

River Ski at Sundown pick pick of the poles brisk batting of the wind crisp crunch underfoot blazing sun ricocheting off a window off the snow still diamond flecked ballast of the chocolate bars

Ballast of the Chocolate Bars It may be just a trifle. Pardon me while I stifle a laugh, and I muffle my feet as they shuffle. On my skis a kerfuffle from more than just one truffle.

Bring on Spring Enough of your boxing sparring ways, bluster and fluster and chilling days. Your snow and sleet are remiss you know. Just look at the calendar: there’s no mistletoe! Step aside, move on back, go get lost, Frosty Jack. Look ahead. Aren’t you aware? It’s Sweetling Spring. She’s in the air. See again the river flow. On her banks the cattails show by waters blue where the fish they grow. —Barbara Roch

supports is not as simple or easy as it sounds. There can be many complicating factors, not the least of which is the need for a safe, affordable place to call home while the person/family gets the help they need in other areas of their life. It may lead service providers to question which comes first, the chicken or the egg. But keep in mind that to hatch a successful chick, you need both the egg (that the chick comes from) and the chicken (to incubate the egg). Service providers must work to help people find both housing and life supports at the same time. As each person has a unique situation and needs, it seems at times like a quest for some elusive magical formula that continues to remain just out of reach. The patience, persistence and determination of people searching for stable, affordable housing, and those service providers who work daily to help them is not to be underestimated. For people to achieve healthy, long-term tenancy, such housing units must be constructed and located to facilitate both financial and life success. Keogh notes energy efficient units that keep monthly bills down are great, but another significant consideration is the availability, proximity, and access to essential services, such as grocery stores, schools, and medical care. She gives the example that putting affordable housing units in Centreville (near our Township Office), without also adding essential services, could be very isolating and prevent any tenant without a vehicle from accessing necessary services. It follows then that affordable housing needs to be strategically located and intentionally added to community planning, especially in communities without public transportation. All three levels of government have begun to tackle this challenge. The federal government has built a National Housing Strategy and implemented a National Housing Co-Investment Fund. The goal of this fund is that “By working with our partners at all levels, more middle-class Canadians — and those working hard to join it — will find safe, accessible, affordable homes, in vibrant and inclusive communities where families thrive, children learn and grow, and their parents have the stability and opportunities they need to succeed,” according to The Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Families, Children, and Social Development and Minister Responsible for Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation. Mike Bossio, local MP for Hastings – Lennox and Addington adds, “You can’t grow a community if you don’t have houses for people to move into.” Bossio recently hosted workshops to encourage more affordable housing development in our riding. He notes, “This new era for housing in Canada must include rural communities like ours, and we are actively seeking partners to create more affordable housing in our community.”

Using provincial funding allocated to the counties, PELASS currently has 120 units (up from 29 units in 2000) with rent geared to income (RGI). The tenant pays 30% of their income toward rent and the County subsidizes the remaining amount. Keogh admits, “we need more units.” She shared that her agency also provides $100 per month to people on the waiting list for the RGI units. Keogh says a lot of time has been spent to entice developers to the area. PELASS also provides a support program for landlords renting to vulnerable people and a tenant support program to ensure safety and communication for both parties. The PELASS Community Homelessness Prevention Fund can be allocated to pay for hydro arrears, or first and last months’ rent, to prevent tenants who currently have a home from becoming homeless. There has also been funding provided to the Warming Centre, notes Keogh, “as we try to help as many homeless people as possible.” Many people in Stone Mills struggle with questions about what they can do to help. The highly publicized, ongoing struggle of one Napanee man to provide affordable housing via the use of trailers on his Loyalist Township property has yielded discouraging results to those who want to make a difference and improve our community. While by-laws vary among the municipalities, I have focused on Stone Mills by-laws, because The SCOOP is based here. For information pertaining specifically to the by-laws in Stone Mills, I contacted Roger Hogan, Deputy Clerk, Township of Stone Mills to find out what private individuals or families can do if they would like to offer housing on their Stone Mills property to someone who is currently homeless or precariously housed. In answering my questions about options for Stone Mills property owners, Hogan noted, “Although a complete second dwelling is not permitted on the same lot, most zones permit the use of a second dwelling unit.” A housing unit could be added to a new or existing barn, garage, basement, or attic in most cases. He further explains, “the planning act was amended to ensure that adding an additional suite to an existing dwelling was possible in all municipalities.” Think in-law suite. Hogan is not aware

of any funding available to assist with any of these endeavours at this time. Trailers may be stored only and not lived in. However, in the document “Township of Stone Mills Zoning By-Law No. 2014-744”, on pages 42 and 43, the document states that both a Mobile Home (“Means any dwelling that is designed to be made mobile, and constructed or manufactured to provide a permanent residence for one or more persons but does not include a travel trailer, motorized home, a tent trailer or trailer otherwise defined.”) and a Mobile Home Park (“Means land which has been provided and designed for the location thereon of two (2) or more mobile homes.”) are permitted in Zones RMH. According to the document “Township of Stone Mills Zoning By-Law – Schedule 1”, there is no zone within the entire township that bears the designation RMH. Hogan clarified, “Township would not pre-zone any lands to provide for this use nor would we develop any zone for this particular use. Instead, should someone want to develop lands for this purpose then such a proposal would require a zoning amendment and it would be considered on the merits of that proposal. Land use planning by its very nature is restrictive and we have to be cognizant at all times of the impacts of planning on affected properties. Housing is indeed a problem and I think most municipalities are attempting to get a handle on it. The Council for Stone Mills has had several discussions on the matter.” With the knowledge that Stone Mills Council and residents are already exploring viable options, may we collaborate toward realizing a future that includes providing safe, affordable, accessible housing in a welcoming community to improve quality of life for all Stone Mills Township residents.

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613-379-2526 February / March 2019 • The SCOOP

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