Thunder Bay

Sioux Lookout's housing crisis has mayor looking for solutions

The mayor of Sioux Lookout says his community needs help with a social housing crisis.
Sioux Lookout Mayor Doug Lawrance says his community is in a critical state when it comes to social housing. (Doug Lawrance)

The mayor of Sioux Lookout says his community needs help with a social housing crisis.

Doug Lawrance told CBC News that the community's housing situation is over-stretched — from the emergency shelter, to long-term care.

Other housing solutions simply don't exist, he noted.

"None of the prescriptive solutions that are out there now, whether it be supported housing, transitional housing, managed alcohol programs, are available in the the community," Lawrance said.

"The social housing — there's a complete gap in our system, between emergency shelter and independent rent-geared-to-income living. As for long-term care we're grossly under-bedded."

The community only has 20 long-term care beds he said, which is too few for the number of people the community serves.

Seeking solutions

Lawrance said he recently wrote to the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing to ask for help, adding that he was motivated to write the letter after the chief of a northern community asked for his help to find housing for two of its members living in Sioux Lookout.

Lawrance said none of the agencies he contacted had capacity.

"There were just no solutions."

He said he'd like to see the province, the federal government, First Nations and the municipality band together to find a solution.

The delivery of social housing needs to be centralized, Lawarance added.

"It's spread out among the feds, the province, the municipalities, the district services boards, some Aboriginal funded agencies, and there's no central point to go to to establish the database, establish the needs, establish the priorities."

As more people move from surrounding communities to the regional hub, the need for housing is growing, he noted.