Cobourg Council recently seemed to catch on that homelessness and affordable housing are a County responsibility. One action that came out of the recent Special Council Meeting on homelessness was that two councillors (Nicole Beatty and Aaron Burchat) would make a presentation to the relevant County Committee and then to the full County Council. This happened at the County Council meeting on July 20. The County does not record their meetings and I did not watch it live, however, you can see the Agenda item (see resources below). Also, 93.3 News reported that in response to a suggestion to use existing buildings, “Deputy Warden Mandy Martin pointed out that the buildings were abandoned for good reason – often because making them habitable would costs thousands, if not millions of dollars.” Council’s reaction to the delegation was to direct “staff to continue engagement with the Town of Cobourg, Cobourg Police Service’s Homelessness Addiction Resource Project (HARP), and member municipalities and staff including By-law enforcement and first responders, in response to concerns.”
At around the same time, the County released its annual report (for 2021) and it’s instructive to review the County’s activity on providing housing.
Warden Bob Crate’s Remarks (extract)
As an indication of the Political visibility of affordable Housing, Warden Crate’s “message” had a significant segment devoted to the subject:
Access to affordable housing continues to be a pressing priority for all levels of government. It is foundational for achieving the Thriving and Inclusive Communities pillar of our strategic plan.
Northumberland County is leveraging all the tools at its disposal to resolutely pursue a variety of affordable housing solutions. Throughout 2021, we worked with Northumberland County Housing Corporation to finalize plans for construction of the Elgin Park community housing development in Cobourg, which will increase the number of subsidized and market rental housing units at this location from 18 to 40. We also announced an innovative partnership with Ontario Aboriginal Housing Services, the Northumberland County Housing Corporation, and Habitat for Humanity Northumberland that will result in 62 new affordable housing units at 473 Ontario Street in Cobourg. And we acquired an existing house in Campbellford, to be used for new supportive housing as early as 2023.
Beyond investments in owned infrastructure, we also expanded programs to drive a range of affordability options for residents. 2021 saw the introduction of our Affordable Housing Grant Program – designed to stimulate private and non-profit sector development of affordable housing options for the community. We also increased County-funded rent supplement agreements to support households on the centralized waitlist for Rent-Geared to Income housing, and we continued to support critical home renovations for low-income homeowners through a partnership with Habitat for Humanity Northumberland.
Bob does not quote dollar numbers but the rest of the report does. In 2021, the County spent $13.1M on Social Housing. This compares to Cobourg’s Community Improvement Plan with a budget of $125K.
Specific 2021 Projects (summary)
- Elgin Park Redevelopment: Increase subsidized and market rental housing at this location from 18 to 40 units.
- Ontario Street Development: With other agencies jointly develop and manage an affordable housing complex with 62 units in Cobourg.
- Capital Incentives Program: To stimulate development of private and non-profit affordable housing in the county.
And for 2022, one of the Priorities is:
Conduct a homelessness system review to guide planning and service delivery options and implement the Homeless Individual and Families Information System (HIFIS) for coordinated access of real-time data shared between community agencies.
With elections due in a few months, it’s likely that the twin issues of affordable housing and homelessness will be major issues.
The County Councillors are the Mayors of each municipality – so there could also be new County Councillors after the election.
The County does record their meetings but since it does not include sub-titles as required by legislation, the recording is only available upon request.
Previous reports on Cobourg News Blog
- Council meeting on Homelessness – Part 2 – 5 July 2022
- Special Council Meeting on Homelessness – 3 July 2022
- Affordable Housing gets Funding – 24 July 2020 – about Elgin street Project
- Northumberland County Council Weighing options for Homelessness – By 93.3 News – GoNorthumberland.ca
- County Council Meeting Agenda – 20 July 2021
- Northumberland County Annual Financial Report – for 2021
Cobourg Internet Link with County Information