The number of people on a waiting list to access affordable housing in New Brunswick continues to grow, and outreach workers says the province’s plan to build more units is falling short.
“It’s not meeting the needs. It is not even helping,” said Trevor Goodwin, senior director of outreach with YMCA Reconnect.
Jean Bertin, a spokesperson for the department of social development, said that the federal and provincial housing strategy is supposed to build more than 150 units in New Brunswick over the next two years.
The plan will also ensure that 1,200 new units will be constructed over the next 10 years.
“The new federal/provincial housing strategy will lead to the construction of more than 150 units in New Brunswick over the next two years,” accordin to an email from Bertin, “and 1,200 new units in the province over the next 10 years”
But Goodwin says that’s not enough.
“It is not even a drop in the ocean compared to the need,” said Goodwin, adding that there are more than 150 people on a waiting list for subsidized housing in Moncton alone.
According to the Department of Social Development, as of Nov. 1 there are 5,281 people on the waiting list for affordable housing in New Brunswick — 863 more than the department was reporting at end of March, 2019.
Not everyone on the waiting list is homeless, Bertin said. Some people are living with family or waiting to move into a larger unit.
“Adding a few units just here and there isn’t helping,” said Goodwin who
“They really need to say, ‘OK, they need 200 units, let’s give them 300 units,’ because that wait list is just going to continue to grow.”
Goodwin is encouraging the province to reach out to outreach groups across the province to get a more realistic figure as to the housing needs.
He would also like to see more landlords, apartment and condo developers allocate a portion of their rental units to subsidized housing.
“We have nowhere to move people and we are out there meeting with people who are sleeping in the elements and sleeping in abandoned buildings,” said Goodwin.
“I was homeless for over 1,000 days,” said Ashley Perry of Moncton.
After spending five months living in Moncton’s former tent city, Perry was finally approved to move into an affordable housing unit at the beginning of this month
“I am having a hard time sleeping inside; I am not outside in the air and it is just weird trying to sleep inside,” said Perry. However, she said she feels lucky to finally have a roof over her head compared to many of her comrades still without a home.
Meanwhile, Goodwin would like to see the province build at least 5,000 new units. Even with a new shelter expected to open in Moncton in the coming weeks, if people transitioning out of the shelter don’t have a place to live, he fears some people will end up back on the streets.
“I seriously think they need to reevaluate the numbers,” said Goodwin.