Affordable housing co-op in Chatham has changed lives forever

Minister of Families, Children and Social Development Karina Gould visits Clairvue Housing Cooperation in Chatham. (Photo by Paul Pedro)

As if the federal Minister of Families, Children and Social Development needed any more convincing to build more affordable housing, she heard plenty of stories about how Clairvue Housing Cooperation in Chatham has changed the lives of many living at the complex during a tour on Wednesday.

Karina Gould also heard that Clairvue would be a good model for affordable housing and said she would take the stories back to Ottawa and share them with Parliament.

Rachel White has a growing family and moved to Clairvue in October after spending $1,300 a month on rent.

She said Clairvue is welcoming and safe and doesn’t deserve the stereotypes that come with living in affordable housing.

“We had been waiting on the waitlist for Clairvue a little over a year before we got in and since then it has been so much better financially, mentally. It’s a really nice community,” said White.

Single mother Ange Fry has been at Clairvue for 12 years and said the co-op helped keep her family together when it was facing a crisis and struggling badly.

“I had six of us in this home and it was tough but I never felt so much more support than I did that time and it kept my family united,” Fry said.

Single mother Heidi Bajcar has two daughters and said there’s a sense of community at Clairvue because the neighbours know each other and look out for each other.

Gould said it’s challenging to get developers and municipalities to build more affordable housing but added there are programs such as an accelerator fund for municipalities, the Co-op Investment Fund and the Rapid Housing Initiative for developers to entice them to build more units.

“It’s getting people to build these kinds of affordable units, but it’s also working with municipalities to end those backlogs and to remove some of that red tape,” said Gould.

The Government of Canada is currently rolling out its National Housing Strategy, an ambitious 10-year, $72 billion plan that it says will create 160,000 new housing units and lift 530,000 families out of housing need, as well as repair and renew more than 300,000 housing units.

Gould also visited Windsor earlier in the day to highlight investments in affordable housing contained in this year’s federal budget.