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Families, singles waiting longer for rent-geared-to-income housing, report reveals

Excluding special-priority applicants, those with no dependents waited 6.3 years. For those with dependents, the wait was 3.7 years, up from three years in 2015
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When it comes to getting a subsidized or rent-geared-to-income home, seniors aren’t waiting as long as those with children.

According to Simcoe County’s centralized waitlist, which reflects 2016 cases and trends over the past several years, seniors are waiting five years – a wait which fell from the 5.7 years in 2015.

However, waits for those who aren’t seniors – whether they have children or not – both increased.

Excluding special-priority applicants – that is those fleeing domestic abuse – those with no dependents waited 6.3 years. Their wait rose from 5.8 years in 2015. For those with dependents, the wait was a bit shorter, but it too rose slightly; in 2016, the wait was 3.7 years, up from three years in 2015.

In the past year, the county added 54 affordable seniors apartments in Barrie, doubling a seniors’ project on Brooks Street, and funded the creating of 25 more in Bradford at its affordable seniors project there.

Generally, the numbers waiting for social housing are down, because Simcoe County is no longer including those who are waiting for affordable housing with the Simcoe County Affordable Housing Corporation, which offers an array of public housing options throughout the region.

“The total number of applicants on the waitlist at the end of 2016 was 2,979, which is an overall decrease of 3.5 per cent from 3,087 households in 2015,” said Terry McErlean, Simcoe County’s public housing manager.

In Barrie, 2,050 households are waiting for rent-geared-to-income housing, which is up 4.8 per cent over 2015. Demand is rising even higher in Innisfil, where there’s been a 11.7 per cent increase in demand and Angus, where demand rose 8.1 per cent.

“In 2016, there were 1,484 new applications processed, an increase over the 1,335 applications processed in 2015,” McErlean said.

She noted that the county is aiming – and “working aggressively” – to add 2,685 affordable units over the next decade.

The county, for example, is redeveloping a site in Collingwood, a $39.6-million project which will boost the supply in the west end with 117 affordable units in addition to replacing the 30 rent-geared-to-income units with newer ones. The plan envisions two buildings, one for seniors and the other for families.

During the first three years of the county’s affordable housing initiative, approximately 420 affordable units have been built, the county reported, and more than 165 families have been able to maintain their affordable home with Ontario Renovates grants.

The county also assisted 90 families with rent supplements. Ontario’s Strong Communities Rent Supplement program helps bridge the financial gap between affordable and market rents.