MP Adam Vaughan, parliamentary secretary for the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development, housing and urban affairs, discusses the National Housing Strategy at IRIS House in Windsor, December 1, 2017. Photo by Mark Brown, Blackburn News.

National Strategy To Enhance Local Housing

The federal government is rolling out a long-term plan to improve housing in Windsor-Essex and beyond.

Adam Vaughan, Liberal MP from Spadina-York and parliamentary secretary for the minister of Families, Children and Social Development, Housing and Urban Affairs, presented the key points of the National Housing Strategy to a group of local housing representatives Friday at IRIS House in Windsor. IRIS provides support and housing for those suffering from mental illness and concurrent physical disabilities.

Roughly, 1.7-million Canadians have some degree of housing need. This ten-year, $40-billion plan is designed to reduce chronic homelessness and improve the general quality of the housing stock, not just in cities like Windsor, but nationwide.

Among the groups being helped by the strategy are domestic violence survivors and those having difficulty shedding the homeless label. Thom Rolfe, executive director of Windsor’s Hiatus House, says the strategy is wonderful news for organizations like his, because they are often forced to say no to people who need their help.

“Since January, we’ve had to turn away 118 women and 105 children,” says Rolfe. “That’s the hardest thing for staff to do because we know that they’re in need. They’ve taken the risk to call, and they’re reaching out for help and we can’t provide it.”

With the need to help Indigenous people rising across the county, the housing strategy is also concentrating efforts to help them find better housing. Vaughan says he understands that the need is becoming clearer in Windsor-Essex.

“I know that the numbers in this community are rising,” says Vaughan. “When you take a look at homeless populations you often see a massive over-representation of Indigenous people. A large part of this is the legacy of the residential school system.”

Rolfe says Hiatus House is aware of the housing issues facing Indigenous people.

“We know that that’s a need and we work closely with our aboriginal partners in an effort to meet that need, but it’s a question of resources,” says Rolfe.

The federal government has a website with complete information on the housing strategy and its goals.