Homeless coalition meeting makes affordable housing an election issue

Council candidates in Windsor-Essex were invited to a homeless coalition meeting about the need for affordable housing in the area Thursday night.

'It's very clear that housing is lacking,' says community developer

Several council candidates from Windsor-Essex turned out to discuss and get information on homelessness in the area. (Dale Molnar CBC News)

The Homeless Coalition of Windsor and Essex County held an information session Thursday night to inform people of the status of homelessness in the area. They also invited council candidates from the city and county to come and ask questions.

"On any given week we are actively turning away one to five single women from shelter and one to four families with minor children," said Lady Laforet, executive director of the Welcome Centre Shelter for Women and Families.

Laforet was one of five panellists who repeated the message that Windsor doesn't need more shelters, it needs more affordable housing.

"It's very clear that housing is lacking and it's one of the main issues we believe is why we see the number of people experiencing homelessness in our community right now," said Susie Redekop, the community developer for the homeless coalition.

Lady Laforet says Windsor needs more affordable housing, rather than more shelters. (Dale Molnar/CBC)

An election issue

She said they invited the candidates to the meeting so voters can know their stand on the issue, for example, whether they would advocate for the 10-year housing homelessness plan in the region.

"We hope that you vote for someone who will invest in homeless prevention and long-term housing solutions."

Ward 3 Councillor Rino Bortolin said there needs to be bylaws that guarantee a percentage of new housing will be affordable.

"If there's 300 units going up, whatever it is five per cent, eight per cent, eight per cent of those units would be geared-to-income long term," said Bortolin.

The Homeless Coalition of Windsor and Essex County estimates 197 people experience homelessness on any given night in Windsor-Essex. (Dale Molnar CBC News)

Bortolin and Coun. Irek Kusmiercyk were the only two current members of Windsor city council who joined the 20 or so candidates at the meeting from around Windsor-Essex. Neither Mayor Drew Dilkens nor his challenger Matt Marchand were there.

Kusmiercyk pointed to the 150 new units the city is planning to build, but he said upper levels of government need to get involved.

"It's a shared responsibility. We heard today there are over 4,000 people on the waiting list for affordable housing. So this is a big issue," said Kusmiercyk.

About the Author

Dale Molnar

Video Journalist

Dale Molnar is an award-winning video journalist at CBC Windsor. He is a graduate of the University of Windsor and has worked in television, radio and print.