Joining the wait list for affordable housing
By Jenn Watt
Published March 14, 2019
If you’re in need of affordable housing, or think you might be a few years from now, putting your name on the waiting list is likely a good idea.
There are 1,700 households waiting for financially assisted housing in Haliburton County and the City of Kawartha Lakes, with wait times for someone signing up today estimated at four to five years.
“Overall on the waiting list we’ve seen significant growth and need for financially assisted housing. Our waiting list overall has grown by 326 per cent over last five years,” said Michelle Corley, program supervisor for Housing Help, a division of the City of Kawartha Lakes. City of Kawartha Lakes manages the waiting list for both communities.
She attributes the rapid growth to rising housing costs, more barriers to attaining a mortgage, rental prices going up and a drop in rental vacancy rate.
Within Haliburton County, there are 300 financially assisted housing units in a range of sizes, including some for people with physical disabilities. One-bedroom units are in highest demand.
Corley said signing up to be on the waiting list is a relatively simple process.
“Anyone can apply on the waiting list even though they may not be financially eligible today. But once they receive an offer of housing, they need to be financially eligible at that time,” she said.
Eligibility is based on income and household size. For those requiring a one-bedroom unit, annual household income must be equal to or less than $31,000; for two-bedroom it’s $38,000; for three-bedroom $43,500; and four-bedroom $54,000.
For the most part, once you’ve been accepted as a tenant of one of the units, rent is based on 30 per cent of your income, though there are some variables that play into the rate.
Corley said there is no asset limit in the region, which means if you own a home, you can still sign up for the waiting list: “What happens is once they are offered a unit, if they do have interest in a property that’s suitable for year-round habitation then they are required to divest of that property within six months of being housed.”
Applicants specify up front which communities they’d like to live in, however, they are still allowed to turn down offers of housing three times before they are removed from the list and have to start the application process again.
Names on the list are confidential.
Most people on the waiting list are local to one of the municipalities served, though not all are.
“Eighty per cent of our applicants are currently local within Kawartha Lakes and the County of Haliburton. Applicants from our region are often applying for housing in other regions also. We’re not in a position to prevent anyone from applying to housing here and likewise we often are supporting individuals who have to leave the area, too, for various reasons,” Corley said.
There are several ways to get your name on the list. You can apply online, go to any of the non-profit housing providers in the county, or visit the Human Services office at 49 Maple Ave. in Haliburton. You can also contact the Housing Help office and have an application mailed to you (1-844-878-9367).
“We always suggest if people are considering applying, because of the waiting time, they really are best just to get on the waiting list,” Corley said.