'We are at a crisis point': Peterborough faces critical shortage of low-income, affordable housing

WATCH: The City of Peterborough calls it a crisis: the critical shortage of low income, affordable housing.

The City of Peterborough says it’s facing a critical shortage of low-income, affordable housing.

“We are at a crisis point,” said Rebecca Morgan Quin, the city’s manager of housing. “We have not enough housing for the folks who need it the most.”

That includes those displaced following the closure of the Warming Room homeless shelter in July. Many turned to tenting on municipal and county parks, forming a so-called “tent city” at Victoria Park across from City Hall.

Tent City residents in Peterborough worried about eviction

“You want a place to live — and not a bad place to live — you’re going to have to split it three or four ways, because it will bring down the cost,” said Dwyane Duguay, one of about 40 people tenting at Victoria Park.

“But there are not a lot of people who want to do that.”

Rents in Peterborough average from $525 for a one bedroom in a house to $1,100 for a one-bedroom apartment. The city admits it has its work cut out to address its housing issues.

“We have staff who are working on this, trying to locate, trying to make relationships with landlords to try to increase the possibility of moving some of these folks into housing,” said Quin.

Dan Hennessy, who was the executive director of former Carol’s Place drop-in centre for the homeless (which closed in mid-December), says the city needs to change its approach to housing.

“Social services need to get serious about affordable housing,” he said. “Like not 80 per cent of market rent but they need to get rent-geared-to-income housing.”

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Morgan Quin admits there’s not enough rental construction to meet the demands of future growth in the city. She agrees the city needs to get creative to find solutions.

“We need to find if there are chosen families, chosen households that people may be willing to look at sharing space,” she said. “And how can we facilitate that, how can we support that.”

The current vacancy rate in the city is currently about 1 per cent, the lowest in the province, the city says.

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