Imagine Not Having a Stable Home During COVID-19

National Housing Day 2020

NIAGARA REGION, November 17, 2020 – This year on National Housing Day, Niagara Regional Housing (NRH) wants the residents of Niagara to think about what it is like to be without a stable home during a pandemic. "Anxiety about the virus, the changes to our lifestyles and the isolation of lockdown have been difficult even if you have a comfortable home", commented Donna Woiceshyn, Chief Executive Officer of NRH, "Imagine what living through this pandemic is like for the 6,500 households on our waiting list who don't have stable housing".

Each year on November 22, National Housing Day commemorates the 1998 declaration by the Big City Mayor's Caucus that homelessness in Canada had reached crisis proportions. "The Big City Mayors declared a crisis before the economic downturn of 2008 and the situation has become progressively worse since that time. And now there is a pandemic" said Mayor Walter Sendzik, Board Chair of NRH, "6,500 households means that more than 12,000 men, women and children are living in substandard or unaffordable housing in Niagara – during a worldwide pandemic. Some have to choose between paying their rent and buying groceries. Others have been locked down in small apartments with large families – with no chance to social distance if someone is exposed to the virus. This is unacceptable".

Sendzik noted the progress that has been made in Niagara, citing the Housing and Homelessness Action Plan, which outlines the community ten year plan to end homelessness and the 734 units of affordable housing that has been developed with additional units underway. "But it's not enough. It doesn't even make a dent in our wait list", he said. Development takes time, so NRH is attempting to increase community housing stock through "Rent Supplement" agreements with private landlords. The Rent Supplement program provides rent subsidy directly to the landlord so is guaranteed rent. "Landlords who have available units should contact NRH", said Woiceshyn, "It could really make a difference".

"If something positive can come out of this pandemic, I hope it is increased recognition of the need for more affordable housing", said Sendzik, who is leading St. Catharines' "Compassionate City" initiative. "On National Housing Day, please remember those in our community who are waiting for a stable home".

Donna Woiceshyn
Chief Executive Officer, NRH
905-682-9201, ext. 3900

Mayor Walter Sendzik
Board Chair, NRH
905-688-5601, ext. 1542

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