LETTER:Council implored to take action on housing crisis

Dear Council Members,

I hope this letter will help highlight the urgency of the local housing crisis. We need to take actions to address the distinct attainable/affordable housing-related issues here in Prince Edward County. Housing affordability is even more essential as we return from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Making sure that all residents have adequate housing requires bold actions and leadership by this Municipal Council. Our community desperately needs attainable housing. We also fall short on dealing with affordable solutions for our low income population bordering on the precipice of homelessness.

Why do private citizens and businesses have to take up the mantle of providing funding to many of the organizations seeking to end homelessness and create affordable housing like Kate’s Rest Foundation?

Basic affordable housing refers to housing that costs less than 30 per cent of a household’s income before tax. If a household earns $60,000 a year before tax, that household should spend less than $18,000 a year (or $1,500 a month) on total housing costs for the housing to be considered attainable. That is the equivalent of a $350,000 home with a 10 per cent down payment. The median household income in Prince Edward County is only $67,000.

Why is our Council focusing on approving projects with entry to ownership starting at just under $1 million?

As almost every local businessman can attest, getting any skilled labour to reside or work here in PEC is next to impossible due to the high cost and low availability of accommodations. Housing starts are down 50 per cent this year in Prince Edward County. New home construction projects were a major source of employment for our residents pre-COVID, and they need to return ASAP. It has reached a point of critical mass where local residents have had to move to Belleville to find suitable housing.

The council has spent years dealing in session discussing STA’s (Short Term Accommodations) , their investors and tourism but not a moment on the everyday person living here in The County. STA’s & tourism are wonderful sources of revenue but are seasonal and not beneficial to the everyday local County resident. We require increased levels of investment to develop attainable housing for low to median income households.

This Municipality should consider taking immediate steps including the development of affordable housing through incentives, waiving of development fees and fast-tracking of development approvals.  Housing is not a privilege; having a home is a basic human right to which all people are entitled. Every day, we see the impacts of the inaction on attainable housing in our community.

It doesn’t need to be this way, and it shouldn’t be this way. While it has taken far too long to act, we can still make a difference and put ourselves on a course to address our local housing crisis.

Sincerely

Philip Adie

Prince Edward County