City of Kawartha Lakes needs to find homes for more than 40 households

City of Kawartha Lakes looking for landlords for housing program
While we're all being told to stay home as much as possible these days - for many, that's simply not an option. There are nearly 100 people who are homeless in the City of Kawartha Lakes and Haliburton County. As Mark Giunta reports, a new program is trying to change that.

The City of Kawartha Lakes is looking for help from landlords during the coronavirus pandemic and beyond with a new rapid re-housing program.

Right now, the municipality reports a high demand for bachelor or one bedroom units.

“We currently have 43 households in motels that don’t have a place of their own,” said Hope Lee, manager of housing for the City of Kawartha Lakes.

“While all of use are being told to stay home, these individuals don’t have a home.”

READ MORE: Coronavirus: City of Kawartha Lakes layoffs, facility closures help to offset revenue loss

A graph of homelessness by demographic in the City of Kawartha Lakes and Haliburton County as of April 15.
A graph of homelessness by demographic in the City of Kawartha Lakes and Haliburton County as of April 15. City of Kawartha Lakes

According to numbers provided by the municipality, as of April 15, there are 12 families, 38 single people, 1 senior, 4 youths and 2 couples that are actively homeless.

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To-date, landlords have come forward with four apartments.

“We’ve successfully matched a family who will move into a unit this weekend,” added Lee.  “We’re working on the other three units.”

The municipality offers funding to prepare the unit for move-in, prioritized COVID-19 screening prior to move-in with daily screening post move-in, tenant choice, last month rent guarantee, three months of prepaid rent, ongoing tenant affordability through the Canada-Ontario Housing Benefit or a similar housing benefit going forward, landlord support through the Affordable Housing Program Coordinator and prioritized standing for the Rent Smart tenant education program later in 2020.

“The way the program works is the landlord offers the unit to us and we help make the match with the household,” added Lee.  “There’s up to $500 available for the landlord to get the unit ready; that can be a deep clean or minor repairs that are needed.”

Lee notes A Place Called Home, Lindsay’s emergency shelter, doesn’t have the space or resources to comply with current emergency order protocols during the pandemic, so those in-need of housing were moved to undisclosed motels.

READ MORE: Coronavirus pandemic raises question: Is it time for a basic income?

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She also said that demand for apartments was for Lindsay and Fenelon Falls.

The program received emergency funding through the provincial social services relief fund for the pandemic.

“We’re using a portion of that towards the program,” Lee said.  “The funding is available based on the units that are available at an average market rent. There’s enough funding in that program to house 40 households.”

The program isn’t for rooms but for apartments and housing.

“It will be a permanent program. We’ll get them started and then we’ll link them to that benefit,” said Lee.

“We’re looking for units where this can be a permanent housing situation.”