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Make homelessness top priority: Group

<p>City council needs to put more emphasis on Ottawa’s lack of affordable housing in its strategic directions document, according to the Alliance to End Homelessness.</p>

Alliance says the problem is growing in Ottawa


City council needs to put more emphasis on Ottawa’s lack of affordable housing in its strategic directions document, according to the Alliance to End Homelessness.





The draft document states the goal is to end homelessness in Ottawa within 10 years. And while co-ordinator Lynne Browne said the alliance was pleased to see homelessness mentioned, the issue needs to be up front.





“We know homelessness is a huge crisis in the city,” she said. “The reality is, over the last three years, homelessness has increased four per cent in the city.”





The alliance, which is made up of representatives of agencies concerned with ending homelessness, is one of dozens making recommendations at city hall today on how council can improve its draft strategic directions document.





In 2006, 9,010 individuals had to stay in emergency shelters here and 10,055 families were on waiting lists for social housing, Browne said.





“Those numbers tell you right away that there’s a huge need for affordable housing in the city.”





In addition to those already homeless, another group of residents run the risk of becoming homeless. These people may temporarily avoid the situation by staying with friends and getting roommates, but, ultimately, they can’t afford rent in the city.





Browne acknowledged the competing issues in the city, including transportation, but added, “First, you need somewhere to live. In order to give housing the same importance as transportation, it needs to have emphasis in the document.”





People dealing with homelessness may also suffer from addiction and mental health issues and chronic health problems, Browne said.





“It’s a really difficult situation to be in and people pay the price with their health,” she said.





Council approves the strategic direction document this month.















new policy needed


  • The city needs policies that create affordable housing and to ensure sufficient levels of income, Alliance to End Homelessness co-ordinator Lynne Browne said.


 
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