The demand for subsidized housing in Sudbury is high — and those in need can wait anywhere from 18 months to two years for a place to live.

The manager of housing services in Sudbury, Denis Desmeules, said there are 4,400 units subsidized by various programs and another 400 run under contract from the federal government.

These are rent-geared-to-income units and sit at the low end of market rent.

Desmeules said a person’s eligibility for these units depends on how much they spend on current housing.

Anyone paying more than a third of their income is considered at risk.

“The wait list is based on date of application,” he said. “So if you're eligible, once you meet the eligibility criteria, if you're in need, you'd be offered housing in accordance with the date you applied.”

Desmeules said battered women may be moved up the list and given priority, according to provincial law.

First come, first served

The Canadian Mental Health Association also helps with extra money.     

Spokesperson Marion Quigley said the agency recently had three rent supplements to give out — for which 15 people lined up in advance.

“They were waiting because it was a first come, first served basis,” she said. “Those are sad situations in our community.”

There is also a First Nations housing authority that oversees about 95 units in Sudbury. Up to 50 families at a time are on the waiting list for these accommodations.

Annie Boucher

Annie Boucher, a doctoral student at Laurentian who is recording the life stories of 10 homeless women, visited the apartment of one woman who is waiting for subsidized housing in the city. Boucher said the woman's living conditions are substandard. (Kate Rutherford/CBC)

Annie Boucher, a doctoral student at Laurentian who is recording the life stories of 10 homeless women, visited the apartment of one woman who is waiting for subsidized housing in the city.

As the woman waits, she continues to live with substandard conditions, like mildew and bed bugs.

“The ceiling loooks like it's going to cave in,” she said. “It's been wet. There's been water come through from the apartment up above.”