OPINION: City needs to be a player in real estate market to ease housing crisis

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By Nick Seebruch
OPINION: City needs to be a player in real estate market to ease housing crisis

Cornwall’s housing issue once again became top of mind this weekend when the residents of the 100 units at Cumberland Gardens received notices of eviction.

The landlord of the property, Mississauga based Bedford Properties and Estates Ltd. said that it was their intention to renovate all of the units.

Bedford purchased the property at the end of last year, and likely hope to increase their profits on the property by reselling it or by increasing rents. I don’t necessarily blame Bedford for doing this. We live in a capitalist country, they are a business, and they are trying to maximize their profits. They are not doing anything illegal on first glance, although it might be a little heartless for the people who live there.

What the situation at Cumberland Gardens truly represents is how urgent the housing issue in Cornwall truly is right now.

Nearly 100 residential units will be taken off the market for the duration of the renovations and those living there will need to find alternative accommodations. A quick search on Kijiji shows that there are less than 100 residential units currently on the rental market. The price for a two-bedroom apartment is roughly $1,500 a month.

This summer, for the first time in my living memory and in the memory of others, homelessness became a visible problem in Cornwall.

We saw a small encampment of homeless individuals living on Cornwall’s waterfront.

I’ve seen individuals sleeping on sidewalks and sleeping on benches.

We had a one-day homelessness survey conducted that showed on that on one day in the Cornwall area in October of 2021 there were 77 people who identified themselves as being homeless.

We officially have a serious problem with housing in Cornwall and the surrounding area. There are not enough residential units available for rent, and the ones that are for rent are often not affordable for people who are from Cornwall.

The City of Cornwall needs to consider drastic moves to deal with this problem and come up with creative solutions. Solutions like actively and aggressively buying real estate. If you are searching for a place to rent, you might notice that multiple entire homes are for rent in Cornwall. These properties are being bought up by large real estate companies from major cities. I know this because I know people who have been trying to buy houses in Cornwall, only to see those houses snatched up by corporations coming in with cash offers.

Companies are buying homes and putting them on the rental market for high prices, pushing the average cost of rent up and up.

Cornwall as a city needs to get into this market. Buy some of these homes, rent them at affordable prices. Not only would this move be good for those who are in desperate need of housing but it is a good investment for the Cornwall taxpayer as well. There is not enough housing stock in Cornwall. It will still be years before the local housing bubble bursts. The market hasn’t peaked yet and once it does, hopefully the crisis around the lack of housing will have passed and the city can then re-sell these real estate investments.

What do you think readers? How would you solve the lack of housing in the city? Email me your Letters to the Editor at nseebruch@seawaynews.media

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