Advocacy group forms from affordable housing meeting

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About 30 people were in attendance at a community forum on affordable housing hosted by Clearview Ministerial on Nov. 23, with the end goal of working with the municipality to create housing options for people living in the township.

Stayner Evangelical Missionary Church Pastor Rob Harwood, who chaired the meeting, said more rentals are a needed but also options for affordable home ownership.

“We understand that this is something that requires all levels of government to tackle and solve. There are no easy answers, and even beyond government involvement on certain issues there will need to be cooperation by a number of social agencies as well,” said Harwood. “Ideally I would like to see those who are having trouble finding places to live or having trouble maintaining their residences would be able to have the support that they need.”

He said it is undeniable that there is a need for action. The churches are on the front line of the housing crisis locally, receiving calls for assistance and operating the food banks that support people who are spending a disproportionate amount of their income on housing.

“We know that we have a problem,” said Harwood.

“I think there is a lot that can be done within Clearview Township that’s currently not being done and I’d love to see some of that happen.”

At the Nov. 27 meeting of Clearview council, staff reported no municipally owned properties met the criteria for a County of Simcoe affordable rental development.

Earlier this month, the County of Simcoe issued a Call for Proposals to municipalities interested in donating land, or land and buildings, and providing financial and other incentives to the Simcoe County Housing Corporation for the purpose of affordable rental, supportive, and mixed income housing developments.

The county is looking for two acre parcels in settlement areas that would have available water and sewer servicing in the next five years.

Staff was unable to identify vacant lands meeting the criteria.

“Township staff will continue to seek and review opportunities to facilitate affordable housing creation within the township,” reported Amy Cann, director of planning and building. During budget deliberations on Dec. 5, council is expected to discuss whether or not to make a $100,000 scheduled contribution to a senior’s affordable housing reserve that is currently sitting at $400,000.

Cann notes, “existing and future funds from this reserve will be available for expenditure through appropriate channels when the opportunity arises.”

As a result of the community forum, about 10 people have signed up to continue the work as some kind of affordable housing advocacy group. Clearview Ministerial has also invited people to attend the Dec. 13 council meeting to keep the issue in front of council when they are doing their strategic planning and making their official plan.

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