Housing will never be affordable until it is addressed through a multi-layered strategy. There is no silver bullet. The increasing downloading of responsibilities on municipalities means we need to be engaged on the full spectrum to tackle affordable housing.
There are almost 1500 people on the waiting list to access social or public housing in Guelph alone. Challenges such as below 1% vacancy rate stagnates competition and makes fewer affordable rental options available. Furthermore, private rentals that used to provide affordable options for the short term are slowly being sold to private developers and have become unreliable long term solutions.
Although the responsibility of non-market housing is the responsibility of all three levels of government and the County of Wellington, we need to begin to look to alternative sources or opportunities to provide options and competition on the market.
Identifying those who are most vulnerable, in a position where they are about to lose housing, and collaborate with community stakeholders to enter rent supplement agreements as a temporary measure.
Looking to other municipalities, consider helping current homeowners to add affordable in-law suites to their homes through Ontario Renovates to create below market rentals.
Investigate policy changes to allow homeowners to invest in tiny homes on their property or to be able to rent land to those who need a place to park their tiny home.
Explore public-private partnerships with the not for profit sector, such as Habit for Humanity, co-op housing, and Options For Homes, to build high quality below market value housing where cost to rent is equal to purchasing a home or offer rent geared to income.
Access to Healthcare:
Develop a Mental Health strategy with community stakeholders, emergency services, and the hospital to determine where services can be improved and what is the most effective role the municipality can play in providing access to those services. Review what resources are available and what is lacking to provide care needed to the community.
Continue the overdose prevention site at the Community Health Centre. Take direction from the CHC in regards to whether a permanent overdose site is necessary. Support the CHC to best practices regarding harm reduction. Determine further opportunities within the Mental Health Strategy to continue to improve the presence of the four pillars drug strategy within the community.
To make meaningful impact on those living below the poverty line takes the courage to address what basic needs are not being met. Poverty should not strip folks of their right to dignity or choice. It begins with embracing the idea that all of us belong to this community. Recognizing that access to housing, healthy food, social services, healthcare, or mental health and addiction treatment are all critical resources that are basic human rights.
To alleviate poverty we must ensure folks have access to the services they need most and are not displaced or removed from them. To avoid gentrification of areas that provide these services and to continue to be cognizant of barriers that keep folks from accessing what they need most. When building a city we are proud, we have to build for everyone.
Jobs for the Future:
Ensuring a resilient, robust, and prosperous Guelph begins with attracting a job economy that does not rely on part-time, contract, or precarious work. Bringing business, government, and education together to continue to develop skills for a new economy that prizes clean technology, advanced manufacturing, and agricultural initiatives.
Generating solutions within the community, fostering collaboration, and bringing in businesses that are conscientious of their carbon footprint will bring long term benefit to both people and the local economy. Continuing to partner with leaders such as the Chamber of Commerce, Innovation Guelph, and the University of Guelph to identify start-ups and grow Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs) to strengthen our economic presence and attract international junctures and partnerships.
Continuing to identify where Guelph can be a leader on both national and international pilot projects to champion its legacy as a leader in being an environmentally focused and prosperous municipality.