We are hearing loud and clear that our current solutions for housing in London aren't meeting the needs of the community. We all want the same outcome: people in homes.
We know people aren't getting the support they need to survive, and we are losing community members to preventable deaths every week. Our social security blanket is in tatters.
The Forgotten 519 are reminding us of the urgency we need to address a crisis. They're asking for immediate action and more compassion. They're asking for us to fix a system that is failing our community and they're amplifying the voices of the most marginalized in our community.
There's been decades of hard work from city staff, local organizations, individuals, activists and advocates to get people into homes. More housing and supportive services have been mobilized, and yet more people are ending up homeless every day. We need to take a united approach to this issue and work together to enact immediate and long term solutions to this crisis.
We need to make changes when needed that reflect the evolving circumstances. As the community has identified, some strategies aren't working and new approaches have been requested. We can't be afraid to change when something isn't working.
The provincial government has fallen behind on funding housing, as well as healthcare needs like mental health and addiction services. Many individuals in our community need a home, but they also need access to low barrier health & social services to help them get better. The federal government also needs to continue funding rapid housing initiatives. We need significant resource allocation (time, staff and funding) from all three levels of government to adequately address the issue, and we cannot continue to delay.
We must do more and act like we are in a crisis, because we are. I am hopeful to see what new solutions will come forward over the next few weeks (from all levels of government and the community) as this issue receives more attention. I hope to see continued collaboration between community, government and staff, as this cannot be addressed alone.
Check out the August 2nd Rally from #theforgotten519. You can also support local nonprofits like, SafeSpace, ANOVA, London Cares, Regional HIV/AIDS Connection, London InterCommunity Health Centre, Unity Project, Atlohsa, St. Leonard's and many more working to address this issue.
Council has a goal of 3,000 new affordable units by 2026, but we now have almost 6,000 on the affordable housing waiting list and that number continues to grow. Canada and London have fallen behind in their ability to provide affordable housing. The province has fallen behind on increasing the rates of Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) and Ontario Works (OW) to align with the current cost of rent and food. Currently, individuals on ODSP are given $497 for rent (ODSP) and $390 if on Ontario Works (2022). The average bachelor apartment in London rents at $780 (CMHC 2022). Many Londoners cannot afford housing in our city.
Vacancy for apartments in London is 1.9%, meaning there is very little available of apartments (CMHC 2022). “Affordability continues to be a challenge as only 2% of the rental market universe is affordable to the lowest income quintile (annual income less than $25K) (CMHC 2022)”.