Editorial: Housing crisis

Over in the painfully obvious department on the previous page, a City of Powell River councillor has revealed a startling revelation about our housing crisis.

According to Maggie Hathaway, who chairs the city's ad-hoc housing committee, it is finally time for the city to step up and take action about the housing situation.

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Really? Do you think?

It is no secret Powell River is quickly entering into a crisis situation in regard to affordable housing, or even housing in general. Estimated by city staff to be less than one per cent, rental vacancies in town are pretty much non-existent and at prices that are higher than the cost of a mortgage in a lot of cases.

A local homeowner who was recently renting her house said she received more than 30 applications in the first hour after the rental was put into our classified ad section. Most of the applicants, she said, were low income and in desperate situations. She said she felt horrible about turning so many needy people away.

Up to this point, the city has relied on non-profit societies to access funding and pitch development projects for affordable housing. Private developers also apply for housing projects, some nearly affordable and most definitely not.

According to city officials, their role is to push through development whenever possible and create an environment where non-profit organizations and developers can build new housing without a lot of push back.

So where are these housing units? Why are we hearing about people every day who cannot find or afford a place to live?

It is encouraging that council is finally taking action to begin solving the housing crisis itself. However, being told the city is ready to take a more active role in providing affordable housing now, after the crisis is nearly in full swing, is an insult to everyone who has been searching for a place to live while council has dragged its feet, waiting for the non-profits to take care of it.

The city's social development consultant Christien Kaaij has already told council to hire a social planner as soon as possible and begin the hard work.

Hopefully, some of the short-term ideas Hathaway and other councillors come up with will be implemented soon. After all, cold weather is coming and those unable to find rentals could be left on the streets.

Jason Schreurs, publisher/editor

Copyright © 2017 Powell River Peak

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