The Cornwall SDG Human Services Department presented their Housing Plan Update to city council on February 13th. The ten-page document outlines the current state of housing in Cornwall and SDG, the department’s housing-first approach, revitalization plan, and updates on the new developments at Ninth & McConnell, Pitt Street North, and the expansion of the existing Morris Glen site in Morrisburg.
“One of the statistics that was highlighted in [the report] that I thought was just so poignant was the cost differential between shelter beds vs. social housing,” said councilor Good at the meeting.
The Housing Plan Update states that shelter beds are almost 10 times more expensive to run than social housing. The average monthly cost of shelter beds is $1,932 compared to $199.92 for social housing.
“So, what we know is, any sort of emergency or even transitional housing are some of the most expensive forms of housing. The biggest return of investment on what we would put into housing is building more affordable housing,” replied Lisa Smith, Human Services Manager.
“Research now shows us that if you really want to make an impact with someone who is homeless, you get them housed, then you wrap around them and try to keep them in that housing, ” added Smith.
To take a regional approach to affordable housing and homelessness concerns in Cornwall and SDG, the report also includes details on the creation of the Affordable Housing Progress and Development Collaborative (A HOME Collaborative). The collaborative, consisting of a cross-sector of City and Counties staff, has met monthly for several months now.
The collaborative’s first major task was creating a list of municipally owned vacant lands. Their next steps are asking each separate council to formally designate those lands for future affordable housing development, hiring a consultant to create a comprehensive 7 to 10-year development plan, and creating a sub-committee to review opportunities for short-term housing solutions.