IN NELSON FINDING AFFORDABLE, DECENT HOUSING IS A REAL CHALLENGE.
Finding affordable, decent housing in Nelson can be challenging. For people working in minimum wage jobs, retirees on fixed rate incomes, single parent families and those on income assistance or disability benefits, it can be especially hard. The overall vacancy rate in Nelson last year was the worst in the province, with just 0.6% of properties available for rent. In addition, rental rates have risen dramatically over the past few years due to the high demand for housing, taking secure and affordable housing out of reach for many people within our community. 46.8% of renters in the city are now paying 30% or more of their income on shelter, and there are long waiting lists for affordable housing units within the city, with a further 200 units needed to meet demand.
Without access to appropriate housing, many people are being forced to move to other cities, or live in short term and temporary accommodation.
Medicine Hat is one of 7 Albertan cities that has chosen to adopt a ‘Housing First’ approach to homelessness. This approach commits to finding people a home within 10 days of finding out they’re homeless, taking the emphasis away from providing temporary shelter and instead prioritising finding people a house. The project removes stipulations (like remaining sober) that are present in many housing programs.
The project has proved a huge success so far, with 672 people being brought out of homelessness in the last 5 years, and 72% of people maintained their housing through the scheme.
The Ministry of Human Services, also says the program makes financial sense. Providing support for chronically homeless people (including health, emergency and justice services relating to their homelessness) can cost in excess of $100,000 a year, where as the Housing First program costs under $35,000. Read more here