PEI

State of P.E.I.'s housing and homelessness issues outlined in 2 new reports

Two new reports released Wednesday by the P.E.I. Department of Social Development and Housing show that the province has years of work ahead as it tackles housing affordability and homelessness.

Reports show some progress made, but province has years of work ahead

This 28-unit apartment building on Fitzroy Street in Charlottetown will be completed by fall. It was developed by the Canadian Mental Health Association of P.E.I., with $2 million in provincial funding and $7.9 million from the federal rapid housing initiative (Brian Higgins/CBC)

Two new reports released Wednesday by the P.E.I. Department of Social Development and Housing show the province has years of work ahead as it tackles homelessness.

A community needs assessment on emergency shelters and a needs analysis of housing supports in Prince County outline what progress has been made, and where gaps in service are still leaving people on the streets.

"There have been huge changes to the housing industry and landscape in the last two years and even the last six months," Minister of Social Development and Housing Matthew MacKay said in a news release Thursday.

"Government has made record investments over the last two years to support Islanders needing access to emergency, supportive and transitional shelter. Through current and upcoming programs and services, we will continue to provide support to people that need it most."

'Through current and upcoming programs and services, we will continue to provide support to people that need it most,' Matthew MacKay, P.E.I.'s minister of social development and housing, said in a news release Thursday. (Legislative Assembly of P.E.I.)

Gains reported

Signs of progress listed in the reports included the Canadian Mental Health Association of P.E.I. developing a 28-unit, four-storey apartment complex on Fitzroy Street in Charlottetown, with the help of $2 million in provincial funding and $7.9 million from the federal rapid housing initiative. It is under construction and expected to open this fall.

Also mentioned was LifeHouse in Summerside, a now-opened emergency shelter for women and children in Prince County.

The province also reports more housing in O'Leary, Alberton, Tignish, Rustico, Montague and Souris.

As well, the province points out that in January, 4,000 Island households received an increase in social assistance payments.

'People are forced to live in tents now and that's going to get worse and worse over time,' said Connor Kelly, tenant network co-ordinator with the P.E.I. Fight for Affordable Housing and the Cooper Institute. (Shane Hennessey/CBC)

More rent subsidies were also reported, with the province noting that the $40-million Canada Housing Benefit will provide 2,200 low-income Islanders with help to cover rent. 

About 1,200 people are receiving mobile rent vouchers at the moment.

'People are forced to live in tents'

However, an affordable housing advocate in Charlottetown who reviewed the reports thought they missed the mark.

"People are forced to live in tents now and that's going to get worse and worse over time," said Connor Kelly, tenant network co-ordinator for the P.E.I. Fight for Affordable Housing and the Cooper Institute.

He said many Islanders are feeling pressure from rising house prices and rental costs, and throwing more money at the problem won't reverse that.

"It's just little Band-Aids that don't really stop the core issues," said Kelly. 

Housing activist Connor Kelly said many are feeling pressure from rising house prices and rental costs on P.E.I., and throwing more money at the problem might not be the right answer. (Brian Higgins/CBC)

"Rent is just going to keep going up the more housing is treated like a commodity …. It's more public housing or government regulation to cool the market that will bring rents back down or make people able to keep affording their homes."

The reports say 17 different agencies are involved in delivering housing solutions on P.E.I., and efforts are underway to streamline communications and record-keeping.

It says a men's shelter in Prince County still needs to be  built, and a Housing Needs Assessment must be carried out in Kings County.

With files from Brian Higgins

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?

now