With 5,400 people waitlisted in Windsor-Essex, advocates hope social housing a priority in budget
2,000 new units needed, say Windsor Essex Community Housing Corporation
As a resident of community housing in Leamington, Yvonne Craig says despite her deteriorating apartment, there's no way she can afford to move out.
Craig lives in an apartment offered by the Windsor Essex Community Housing Corporation (WECHC). She gets by on a gig economy job delivering food and the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP).
"I've had conversations with the administration and they just literally throw their hands up in the air," she said. "It's a perpetual log jam."
But Craig is one of the lucky ones who actually has an apartment. The community housing corporation would like to see 2,000 more units built over the next few years, to house the 5,400 people currently on a waiting list for affordable housing.
The CEO of WECHC Jim Steele says there is a special need for supportive housing, housing for people with mental and physical challenges.
"This is something that we sort of had to get connected during the pandemic, but I think it's really important that now we lay the groundwork to make that more permanent," Steele said.
The president of the Windsor and District Labour Council Brian Hogan says the housing issue is just a subset of an income gap exacerbated by the COVID pandemic.
"The Ford government can't run away from these issues. They're here, the gap is growing. There's been lots of people [who] made lots of money during this COVID and there's lots of people who are at the bottom who are going further to the bottom. And we can't let that happen," he said.
In addition to improvements in social housing, the labour community would also like to see improvements in long-term care, education and a hike in minimum wage
Health care workers want to see a return to the four dollar-an-hour pandemic pay, and better staffing levels in labs that are being stressed and were already short staffed before the pandemic.
"COVID has laid bare the problems we've already had and now it's just exasperated it," said Hogan.
"I just figure that we're going to have an existential crisis in social services because people are financially hard hit," said Craig.
The full budget details will be released Wednesday afternoon.