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Housing Path - Attempt 1

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Denise Vacon

on 19 March 2014

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Transcript of Housing Path - Attempt 1

Digby and Area Affordable and Supportive Housing Group (DAASH)
Stakeholder Gathering: The Ideal
INFRASTRUCTURE
INFORMATION
COLLABORATION
RULES & REGULATIONS
INFRASTRUCTURE
Most people rarely consider how the availability of decent housing and the way it is designed and distributed can cause problems or make existing problems (jobs, health, education, poverty, mental health, racial conflict) worse.

- Popple 2011
I just got a full time job and was hoping to find a better place to live. There just aren't enough affordable housing units where I want to live. Getting into social housing would mean leaving my community. My kids would have to change schools and I wouldn't be close to my job or my extended family. It just doesn't work for us and we keep struggling between food and keeping warm.
I applied to build new affordable housing units, but I was told there would be a 5-10 year waiting list for funding. I'm ready to build now!
My home is getting too run down and now I don't even qualify for grants to fix it up. It's beyond repair. Now I am facing an emergency situation and I have no place to go.
17% of homes are in need of major repair.
46% are over 50 years old. (Digby Co.)
43% of renters are in core housing need.
88% of homes in Digby County are single detached houses

Housing Authority Waitlist:
68 Units as of July 2013
I just got out of detox and I have no place to live. I want to stay clean but I'm right back where I was before.
There are NO transitional houses or emergency shelters in Digby County.
We can't afford to heat this place. We're not able to do wood anymore and the cost of electricity is through the roof. We're cold!
On top of that, it's not wheelchair accessible and I don't have transportation.
22% of people in Digby County are Seniors
The road to safe, affordable and supportive housing for all residents of Digby County.
AFFORDABLE HOUSING SOCIETY
Having an organization that could oversee housing needs and address issues quickly and easily would help.
ACCESS TO FUNDING
Easy access to funding to help people repair existing units, upgrade heating sources and build new affordable housing units.
TAP INTO TRADES
Seek and organize community volunteers. Approach local trades people to work with housing society to address needs.
TRANSITIONAL HOUSING
Transitional units that can address a range of diverse transitional needs.
INFORMATION
The system is just too diffcult to navigate. You can't get a real person on the phone, you don't know who to trust, there's too much jargon, you basically need to be a lawyer to understand the tenancy act. There's just no central place to get accurate information or help with housing issues.
Problems are left for the tenant to sort out. If you complain you risk getting evicted - and then what? There's no neutral agency to set or enforce health and safety standards. The tenancy board tells you to call the building inspector, and the building inspector tells you to call the tenancy board... it's useless.
I feel ashamed calling for help or asking for a grant. I only get the old age pension and I can't afford the repairs and upgrades my insurance company wants. For the first time in 55 years, I have had to choose not to insure my home.
As a property owner you can only repair the same thing so many times. Tenants need access to supports and skills on maintaining a home, keeping it clean and respecting property. Some "slums" are inevitable. It's not necessarily the fault of the property owner.
SYSTEM NAVIGATION
Make the system easy to navigate for both tenants and property owners. A go to resource that is visible and knowledgable with accurate and up to date information on housing issues.
EDUCATION
An education campaign on issues of housing, rights and responsibilities, awareness and reducing stigma.
TENANCY BOARD
Advocate for an easier to navigate system. As it is, it's too complicated and difficult to navigate.
COLLABORATION
We lack services and supports in the community where people are. We have issues with availability and access.
For example:
There are gaps in community based supports to monitor or assist people with their medications.

Sometimes the only way to get help with mental health issues is when it becomes a criminal event.

There's nowhere for my elderly parents to go during the day while I work. It's not safe for them to stay home alone.
We need to work better together, especially in complex situations. Knowing who is doing what is a challenge. We work mostly in silos and need more case conferencing and relationship building.
There are no supportive housing options if you're struggling with addiction or mental health issues.

There's no one to follow-up or provide care and assistance.
FEDERAL HOUSING STRATEGY
HOUSING NAVIGATION
Follow a "SchoolsPlus" model for housing issues to address a range of complex situations and improve collaboration across sectors.
IMPROVE ACCESS TO SERVICES
Particularly access to mental health and addiction services in community settings.
Access to public transportation.
RULES AND REGULATIONS
There's mold growing everywhere! And now the kids all have asthma and we can't afford their meds. We've asked the property owner to fix it, but he says there's nothing he can do.

We can't afford to move again. We're stuck here in this house that keeps making us sick. My boss already told me I can't take anymore sick days.

The tenancy board isn't any help either, it takes too long and there are fees. Why was he allowed to rent this apartment out in the first place? Since moving in we've found out that several other tenants have complained about the same issue.
I can't maintain low-rental properties at market rent and it's impossible to get grants to fix things up.
There's very little economic incentive to build low income housing. I can't charge more.
Income assistance rates are too low for what it actually costs to have a basic standard of living.
INSPECTORS
Housing inspections for rental properties with minimum health and safety standards.
RENT CONTROLS
EASE OF USE
Make the system easier to use with "one stop shopping" for information on rules and regulations. Include an effective process for solving complaints.
WHAT CAN
YOU DO?

ADVOCATE FOR A FEDERAL HOUSING STRATEGY
Federal funding for housing is declining to ZERO $ by 2034.... NS currently receives 55 Million.
We need long term stable funding for affordable housing.
PARTNERSHIPS
Continue to work with DAASH to explore innovative housing options and solutions across Digby County.

(e.g. by appointing members to offically sit as representative on the committee)
COMMUNICATION
STANDARDS
Work with Housing Nova Scotia to
Establish minimum provincial standards for all rental housing stock
Expand the role and resources of those agencies enforcing the Residential Tenancies Act
1 in 4 people meet low income measure thresholds
1 in 5 are in core housing need - thats 1,585 households
Why it matters...
Increased tax base and tax revenue.
Nicer properties - community is more attractive.
Keeps people in Digby County.
Healthier Communities & Happier People.
A stable and secure housing market is essential to community and economic growth. Housing insecurity is costly.
A good home is critical for individuals and households to effectively participate in the social and economic lives of their community.
Core housing need impacts a large percentage of the overall population, including middle income earners.
By providing families with greater residential stability, affordable housing can reduce stress and related adverse health outcomes.
Stable, affordable housing decreases the burden on social systems (health, community services, police, justice).
Digby County
We need long term stable funding for affordable housing.
Recognize that this IS a serious issue for MANY Digby County residents -
(especially families, people working minimum wage, seniors, those with mental illness or addiction... almost 45% of renters & 20% of all households!)
Help us to communicate the gaps in the system... during advocacy days, lunch meetings, with MLA's, etc.

As per UNSM Resolution 6A on Affordable Housing, passed Nov 2013
The State of Homelessness in Canada, 2013
WHAT CAN YOU DO...
Full transcript