Disturbing statistics are emerging from Parry Sound in advance of National Housing DayNovember 22, a day in which the community recognizes the need for safe, affordable place to call home.
A news release from the District of Parry Sound Social Services Administration Board (DSSAB) Chair Rick Zanussi says the organization successfully served almost 500 households to prevent homelessness, however, over 405 households are waiting for social housing.
Other housing challenges are characterized by:
- Up to 16 years on the waitlist for a single individual to obtain social housing (rent-geared-to-income) unit in the Town of Parry Sound and up to seven years on the east side of the District for families.
- A 1 per cent vacancy rate among the private rental market leading to high rental costs compared to average income, and
- A necessity, among renters to accept sub-par units due to the limited housing stock.
- 17 per cent of the district homelessness involved children
- 47 per cent of homeless struggle with addictions
- 56 per cent have mental health challenges
The District homelessness enumeration painted a striking picture of the homelessness issues faced in the District of Parry Sound.
"The homelessness enumeration found 203 people who were experiencing, or at risk of homelessness over one week," says the release. "The homelessness enumeration provided a clear picture of homelessness in the district with a high proportion of youth and indigenous homelessness."
“With the shelter systems across the north at capacity most nights, a long term strategy is needed in the District of Parry Sound.” remarked Joe Bradbury CAO.
"Research shows us that hidden homelessness is prevalent within the District of Parry Sound and Northern Ontario," says Zanussi . "Hidden homelessness significantly under reports the severity of homeless in Northern Ontario versus Southern Ontario, where it is very visible. Many homeless couch surf with family and friends or camp in the bush until the bitter winter hits. With limited emergency shelter options and a shortage of new rental housing, marginalized individuals are often forced to leave the district when facing homelessness challenges."
On November 20 and 22 the Housing needs in District of Parry Sound will be addressed by local community service partners speaking about the services they offer.
"If you know someone who is at risk of homelessness, please reach out to the Parry Sound District Social Services Board or your local shelter. In Canada 3.3 million people cannot access affordable housing and an estimated 235,000 people experience homelessness each year," adds Zanussi.
The Parry Sound DSSAB on November 20 in Parry Sound and November 22 in South River is inviting the public to a National Housing day event.