With no place to go after being evicted from her apartment, Nicky Cope arrived at Cornerstone Women’s Shelter earlier this month.
While she finds shelter living stressful — “there are times when I just need to get out of here,” said Cope, 44 — she feels she has no other options.
“I’m looking for a one-bedroom because I have a scooter for my disability,” she said.
“But rent is so expen-sive.”
Cope is not alone. Last year, 8,915 people stayed in Ottawa’s shelters, including 1,237 children, and yesterday local shelter executives, advocates and Ottawa Centre NDP MP Paul Dewar gathered at Cornerstone in a bid to rally Ottawans to pressure the federal government for more local affordable housing.
Dewar said he recently received 600 responses from constituents who identified affordable housing as ranking as a number one concern.
The group is calling on the government to save a 10-year plan to build 200,000 new units of affordable and co-operative housing for low-income families, and to renew the two-year Homelessness Partnering Initiative, which ends next March.
Cornerstone is one of the organizations directly impacted by the Homelessness Partnering Initiative, said the shelter’s executive director Sue Garvey.
“You’re in a building built for 36 people, and we have 52 people. There were 1,400 homeless women in the city last year and we were able to accommodate 500 of them.”
“People are staying longer than ever in homeless shelters and people with low, moderate and middle income in Ottawa are feeling squeezed by unaffordable housing costs,” said Dewar.