- by Anne Finlay-Stewart, Editor

James and Hazel are looking for a home. It's as simple as that.

The father and daughter were sub-letting a room from someone who ended up being incarcerated during the pandemic. The landlord took back the apartment, and the two have been living in a 10 x 12 motel room which James says will not be available to them after Monday, May 9 at 11 a.m.

In April they were approved by Grey County Housing, and they have a townhouse lined up for August 1 in Meaford. In the meantime, James says he would buy a tent and sleep in a field if it were just him, but Hazel is only 15-months old.

This is not a failure on anyone's part. “Do not think for one second that I don't appreciate the help that the YMCA Housing has provided - they have been very amazing,” said James.

James was offered a one bedroom apartment in Chesley for $1300 a month, which was not a bad place, but he doesn't drive, and the apartment had no stove. James' income is $1060 a month, and Hazel is certainly pulling her weight with the $675 Canada Child Tax Benefit – still, $1300 would be a very tight squeeze.

We understand the risk of making Hazel and James into poster people for homelessness. Every. Single. Person is different. They are not cases – they are people who make choices, and sometimes those choices are limited by circumstances they don't control.

We can only provide you with James' side of this story because of necessary privacy policies of local agencies, and we are well aware that there may be facts we don't know or understand.

There are hundreds on the waiting list for appropriate housing in our region, and the need is growing by the month.

Imagine a game of musical chairs, where there was already one fewer chair than players, then three more joined the game, one chair broke and one player decided to sit on the floor. And the music never really stops.

From 2019 to 2020, the nights of shelter provided through Y Housing went from 214 to over 500 per month. These are nights – not individuals.

In the past two months together over 2500 nights of shelter were provided - exceeding the whole year of 2019. Demand for food security programs has also risen dramatically as increasing rent takes a larger and larger share of household income. The statistics are clear.

Homelessness is complex. But it is not unsolvable. It will take hard work and the political will of all of us.

We elect municipal representatives who set local policies, and who also represent us at County council and committees. We elect MPPs who set provincial policy and MPs who set federal policy. And all levels of government contribute when there are bills to be paid.

From the ballot box, to the board room table, to the agency office, to the landlord and the tenant, there are voices to be heard and decisions to be made to ensure safe, attainable housing is available.

In the meantime, in our own local game of musical chairs, Hazel needs a seat.



CopyRight ©2015, ©2016, ©2017 of Hub Content
is held by content creators