February 25, 2023 Speaker Series Report

February 25, 2023 Speaker Series Report


Affordable housing is a worry to many lower and even medium income families and topic of interest to concerned citizens, such as the members of CFUW.  It is one of the foci of the Advocacy Committees of various clubs, including Barrie and District.

The first speaker, Melissa Stewart, Operations and Development Manager of Barrie Municipal Non-Profit Housing Corporation, provided a well-illustrated overview of the types of housing available: low rise walk-up, high-rise buildings, and townhouses for a total of 953 units.  It has a mix of Rent Geared to Income and Low End Market Rent for singles and families.  Those who wish to live in one of the units must apply to Simcoe Housing which keeps lists of qualified applicants waiting as long as long as ten years.

She also outlined the challenges faced by the organization which relies on government subsidies and grants obtained through applications.  Because Barrie Housing is not a charity, it cannot provide receipts for donations.  They also provide support for the tenants.

The second speaker, Rob Cikoja, CEO of Habitat for Humanity Huronia, pointed out that affordable housing is defined as a housing which costs not more than 30% of the family’s income.  He outlined the mission of Habitat for Humanity—creating safe, affordable homes purchased without a down payment or interest-bearing loan.  To date, Huronia has built 47 houses and has almost completed the current build of 5 townhouses.

Habitat for Humanity Huronia has charitable status established by the CRA and therefore, gives receipts for donations.  It also applies for grants from Trillium, various corporations and foundations.  Sales from the ReStores operated by Huronia in Barrie and Alliston pay for all administrative costs and contribute towards the costs of constructing the houses.

Families go through a four step application process including initial, then detailed application, home visit, and recommendation by the Family Services Committee to the Board.  Huronia provides support to its Partner Families throughout the process through workshops and its Manager of Family Services and Engagement Services and its Managers of Volunteers and Resource Development.

Both Barrie Housing and Habitat Huronia are successful in providing Affordable Housing, but more must be done to address this growing problem.

I would like to recognize and thank the following for their support in this series: the two speakers; the Advocacy Committee of CFUW Barrie and District including its chair, Anne Snell, who thanked the speakers; Sandra Shaw, the Provincial Advocacy Chair, who asked the questions provided by the audience; Ingrid Sproxton, the Provincial Communications Chair who set up and managed the technical logistics before and during the presentation; and our Provincial President, Teresa Habs.

The February 25th session was recorded. To request the recording link please send an e-mail to communications@cfuwontcouncil.org.

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