featured Poverty

Letter: There is a housing crisis in the city and it is getting worse

In partnership with Welcome Housing, the Public Good Society of Dartmouth opened the doors to the Dartmouth Housing Helps (DHH) Office on Wyse Road five years ago in response to what we saw – a growing number of individuals and families struggling to find and keep an affordable place to live.

Since then, the office has helped hundreds of people in need. It is something we are immensely proud of, due in no small part to the compassionate and tireless work of our Housing Support Worker Darcy Gillis.

The office has also given us a front-row seat to the affordable housing situation over the past few years. Despite determined efforts from people like Darcy and others, the overall picture has gone from bad to worse. Supply has shrunk while demand has increased. Prices are growing much faster than incomes. Every month, more and more people in our community are unable to find a safe, affordable place to live.

Make no mistake, this is a crisis – an emergency situation where a failure to respond will result in devastating consequences for a growing number of people and the wider community. All three levels of government are responding – each working on promising strategies that will help in the longer-term – but those solutions aren’t moving as fast as the crisis is growing. With this in mind, the Public Good Society once again asked ourselves, what can we do?

Last winter a couple of us participated in a Social Innovation Lab on Affordable Housing in Dartmouth North, hosted by Between the Bridges. It brought a wide-variety of residents, non-profits, and government agencies working together for five days to dig into the topic and look for some local solutions to prototype.

For example we saw a need in Dartmouth North for emergency stabilizing housing. We even considered the purchase of a six to eight unit building where we could temporarily place place people and families who have not yet found somewhere to live. However, we found the complex web of legal, regulatory, and financial systems involved was overwhelming.

And the Public Good Society is not alone – we are one of many groups serving the community that see the crisis first-hand and want to contribute to a solution. So we recognized another need – to support other non-profit organizations that are willing to enter the affordable housing market.

That is why we applied to the provincial government for funding to embed a Housing Development Officer in the community who can provide hands-on support and navigation services for organizations who want to develop more affordable housing.

It feels to us like the severity of the crisis in housing is bigger than many realize, and it is growing. While all three levels of government are moving in the right direction, we urge them to do more, and faster. Community organizations also need support for short-term options and tools to help cope with the current challenges while we wait for longer-term solutions to take hold.

Doug Livingstone, Monique Mullins-Roberts, Robert Chisholm, Ralph MacKenzie, Grace Szucs, Matt Spurway,  Gavin McCombie, Victoria Murray, Bernie Swan, and Mario Rolle, board members of the Public Good Society of Dartmouth

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2 Comments

  1. I am a single mother who works full time. Beyond an affordability crisis in HRM there is another crisis in regards to rental properties, absolutely nothing is in place to protect a renter. I recently started renting an apartment with my daughter at the beginning of the year. Since we moved in it has been nothing but a hassle, windows leaking, ceilings cracking open with dirty water running into the bedrooms, mold, mildew, the walls are becoming so soft from all of the rain that the window casings are dropping in the walls. I have spent months trying to reach out to my landlords or my leasing company to no avail. I received no response, no one checked in not even a phone call. So I took my only other option and phoned the City. The city sent over an inspector, well apparently the contract that you sign when moving into an apartment building is there to hold you liable to pay your rent but does nothing to hold the landlord liable in making repairs or providing a habitable home. After the landlords found out that I called the City, they issued me a notice stating that in 2 months when my year lease requires renewing they will not renew it.. why? Because they refused to make any fixes refused to call me back so when the city forced them into the repairs they decided not to house me anymore.. do I not deserve a habitable home considering I have never defaulted on my lease? I have held up my end of the contract since day one. Well that’s all fine and dandy, need to find somewhere else to move, but guess what? Average costs of living have sky rocketed from a reasonable 800$ a month for a 2 bedroom to upwards of 1500$ a month for a 2 bedroom, now I work a very nice full time job but what with the cost of living and taxes that is over half of my monthly income. So on top of there being no affordable housing to turn to, I decided to turn to my insurance company since I pay for rental insurance surely they can help even if it is just putting my daughter and myself up someplace until the repairs and damages have been fixed in my unit.. not.. I was informed that unless my landlord makes a claim there is nothing I can do? Even though I myself pay for insurance? The Degenerate landlords running my building would never inform me as to whether they are making a claim as they are doing everything in their power to remove me FOR NO JUST CAUSE… let me put it out there that my daughter and I are quiet tenants, I have never missed a rent payment nor have I ever been served any kind of notice saying I am not abiding by apartment rules, I am being evicted for wanting to live in a habitable home and absolutely no one, not the city, my landlords, my insurance company are willing to help. My daughter and I have been living in a damp, wet, mold infested apartment for over 2 months now, when is enough enough. Its not okay for me to with-hold my rent, but its okay for the landlord to with hold repairs? its okay for a landlord to evict a tenant because they want a habitable home which is what I signed up for.

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  2. my rent has been raised to a ridiculous amount of money that any rich person(not me) can afford. thing is as the rents get higher the place gets slummier. nobody does crap all to help situation!

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