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Open air gathering focuses on challenges to find affordable housing

By Olivia Timm
An event to discuss challenges finding affordable housing in Prince Edward County was called a good start to call attention to the community’s need.

County residents gathered in Benson Park late last week for over an hour, hosted by the Prince Edward Learning Centre (PELC). Several of its staff members joined community members in a socially-distanced circle, sharing fears, lived experience and concerns around the housing crisis in the community.

Nick Monroe, a 25-year-old Picton resident, said it’s extremely difficult to find affordable housing options for him and his family.

He said between balancing bills, keeping food on the table and finding a long-term career, it’s a vicious cycle.

“I never thought as a kid growing up in the County that it would come to this,” he said. “It’s a fight and a half. I feel like I’m dying trying to live, really is what it is, and it’s not something I should have to do. It’s not something that I think any of us should have to do. We are a small community and we should be able to work together to figure out something housing-wise.”

Monroe and around 20 others listened and shared their experiences with local housing.

Kate MacNaughton listens to PELC Lead Instructor Bethany MacInnes explain her experience with housing.

Around the circle was Kate MacNaughton, Prince Edward County councillor, who agreed that something needs to change.

“This is not a crisis anymore. This is a full-on breakdown,” she said. “Until housing becomes recognized by all levels of government as an important right, and something that needs to be protected above any other consideration related to our built-up areas in particular, then we are not going to be able to deal with it properly and we are going to continue to have instability.”

Linda Middleton, a County real estate agent, said she recently had to tell a young family for the twelfth time that they lost in the bidding process of a new home.

“It breaks my heart,” she said tearfully.

For Bethany MacInnes, PELC Lead Instructor, it was a matter of being fortunate. She said her family was able to afford a second home that provides her a place to live, but that is not the case for others in the community.

Christine Kidd, a local resident, said after spending most of her adult life in the County, she moved to Belleville due to the lack of affordable housing.

“Because I had to move out of the County for a year, l was taken off the housing list that l was on for eight years. I am 48-years-old on ODSP due to medical problems. l can’t find my own home that I can afford. My credit is good and my references are good. I am at a loss and it’s not very good mentally,” she shared.

Kathy Kennedy, PELC Executive Director, was pleased with the turnout at the event and noted hearing from local residents about their lived experiences paves the way for more work to be done.

“We were thrilled to have so many people come out and hear about how housing is affecting them in their personal life; how hard it is to find housing – if they’ve had to move from the County, if they are living with friends or family right now; if their children can’t stay here – all really difficult stories. We want to follow up and learn more and make sure that people understand what’s going on. It’s a start, so we’re hoping that if more people want to share what is happening with them in terms of accessing housing, they can contact us at PELC.”

Kennedy said the centre plans to host further housing discussions in the future.

Options are on the table as Prince Edward County council has directed municipal staff to explore options to help right a dire affordable and attainable housing situation that they fear will lead to a community of “have and have-nots”.

Affordable housing planning tool options to be studied

 

Filed Under: Local News

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  1. Paul Cole says:

    Housing is one of the most pressing matters this County has seen in many many years. Council should be taking every opportunity to find and hear possible solutions. Hold your councillor to a higher standard and things might get done.

  2. Dennis Fox says:

    I think public meetings like this can be beneficial – I have suggested to council on a number of occasions to host informal “Round Table Discussions” with the community to find out what the people are thinking. So far nothing to report on that front!

    Valuable input can come in many forms and in many places – let’s be honest the Council Chamber does not have the best record as a place where good decisions have been made. So kudos to Councillor Kate and the PELC for giving it a try!

    The issue of “Affordable Housing” is not one to be solved at the local level – our community does not have the money to fund such ventures. Now is a good time for Council to start leaning on our Provincial and Federal reps. to come up with the kind of money that the housing problem here requires – otherwise we are spinning our wheels.

  3. Emily says:

    There is no expectation for Councilors to attend a park to hear a predetermined message. Got something to say bring it to Council like we all have to do.

  4. Paul Cole says:

    One 1 Uno Elected official in attendance? was any one from the Affordable Housing Corporation in attendance ? Thank you Kate MacNaughton for understanding the importance of the housing situation in The County and listening. Unbelievable that no other councilors were in attendance or the mayor, what are their excuses for not being there guess I’ll email them all and ask…

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