Affordable housing still a very real problem, says housing support worker
An apartment building for single parents is expected to break ground in Labrador City this week and officially open its doors in January.
© Photo by Ty Dunham/The Aurora
Labrador West MHA Nick McGrath (left), Kim Martin, housing support worker, and Labrador City Mayor Karen Oldford (right) chat about the upcoming 10-unit apartment building for single parents, expected to open in January.
The building will also provide a community space with offices for a housing support worker and professionals in the fields of nursing, social work, and mental health.
The 10-unit building will sit on a parcel of land donated by the Town of Labrador City on Tamarack Drive. The cost of the project is estimated at $2 million, with the Newfoundland and Labrador Housing Corporation contributing $1.98 million.
Kim Martin, housing support worker for the Labrador West Housing and Homelessness Coalition, said although Newfoundland and Labrador Housing has helped people in the area struggling with housing and financials, a single-parent complex will also do great things.
“The Newfoundland and Labrador Housing units are fairly big; they’re three and four bedroom units. So when you’re looking at housing a mother and son or daughter or a father and son or daughter, the units are really big. It’s good to downsize.”
The larger apartments are also rarely vacant, she said.
“They’re also always full, so waiting lists can be up to a year for someone as small as a two-person family.”
Affordable housing in Labrador West has been an ongoing issue with both politicians and community volunteers championing for a solution.
The housing boom has slowed down in recent months, but Martin said although there’s a lot of houses on the market, it doesn’t mean they’re affordable for every family.
“Some houses are $250,000 - 350,000 and then some,” she said.
“So for a single parent family, it makes it really difficult. If you only have one income coming in, maybe even child support depending on the situation, it’s very difficult for anybody to afford that. You need two incomes for those homes.”
The process of finding a home for a family is no easy task, and turning down families is always heartbreaking, Martin said.
“I meet with people everyday and I find it really difficult to close my doors at the end of the day when I know they have nowhere to go. Sometimes I want to take them home with me.”
However, seeing a family finally able to have a home brings its rewards.
“It’s really hard to close your doors when you know you have a roof over your head and a hot meal; it’s difficult to walk away from it. So knowing we’re going to help 10 families feels amazing.”
The selection process for potential tenants hasn’t been yet established, but Martin said the Homelessness Coalition is meeting almost daily to figure things out.
“We’re going to form a selection committee with outside help from our area because we think it’ll be tricky and we don’t want to involve people from our area just to make it clean for a selection process.”
While 10 families will have a home come January, it doesn’t mean the housing problem is over, Martin said.
“There’s going to be the 11th and the 12th family,” she said. “So we’ll keep striving. This is going to put a dent in it, but by no means is it going to solve the housing issues here.
“But every little bit counts.”