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Coronavirus: City of London asks community to identify rental units for homeless amid pandemic

The City of London is putting a call out for affordable rental unites during the Coronavirus pandemic with a list of over 1000 Londoners without housing. AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis, File

With a list of over 1,000 Londoners without housing, the City of London has put out a call for affordable rental units during the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Monday, the City of London released a statement reminding people of the municipality’s commitment to affordable housing and housing stability.

The statement said the city and its partners are asking the community to help identify and provide rental housing options for London’s most vulnerable population.

Those in need include people experiencing or at risk of experiencing homelessness and women, whether single or with children, who may be trying to escape violent or dangerous home situations.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: 2 deaths, 17 new cases reported in London-Middlesex

The statement said access to affordable housing has become increasingly difficult during the pandemic.

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According to London’s Homeless Prevention Division, there are 1,163 people experiencing homeless that have registered for support. That number does not account for those not registered and those at abused women shelters.

Of that number, 640 are on the city’s coordinated access list, and 250 are on the priority list.

“One of the things that’s really clear is that our vulnerable population is at such a high risk right now,” Mayor Ed Holder said.

“We really do need to stand with them and continue to support them.”

Holder said they are asking for landlords, developers, and builders to help identify affordable housing units that could be available to be rented to meet the immediate needs.

Finding permanent housing for homeless people has been something London has been working towards for a while, having put out a similar call for available units late last year.

READ MORE: London is rethinking how it addresses homelessness and housing instability

“We were dealing with the housing crisis pre-pandemic, we are trying to manage it as best we can during the pandemic, and I expect we will be in a housing crisis post-pandemic,” Craig Cooper, Manager Homeless Prevention said.

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Cooper said they are preparing for when the pandemic ends and evictions for people who cannot pay their rent are processed.

One of the ways he said London would try and address the issue is through the Housing Stability Bank, which offers financial assistance to low-income Londoners to obtain and retain their housing.

Cooper said they would possibly need to look to the provincial and federal governments for additional funds.

Last month, city councillors approved the housing identification program, housing stability program and rapid re-housing program to help to tackle homeless and affordable housing in London.

“Those programs will be there, and how quickly we can ramp them up will determine how quickly we respond,” Cooper said.

If you have any rental units currently available and can help, please reach out to the city through its Housing Service Division at Housing@london.ca.

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People can also reach out to Dave Purdy, Manager of Housing Services for the City of London at 519-661-2489 ext. 5596 or via email at dpurdy@london.ca.

Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Health officials caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are legally obligated to self-isolate for 14 days, beginning March 26, in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others. Some provinces and territories have also implemented additional recommendations or enforcement measures to ensure those returning to the area self-isolate.

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.

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