Many seniors in this the Meaford, Thornbury and Blue Mountains area are living alone in their homes. They are lonely and need companionship and are having difficulty maintaining their homes. They are isolated because of a lack of transportation. With inflation rates so high, some need to supplement their finances to cover the increase in household expenses. They would feel safer and more secure having someone living with them. Some must leave their homes unwillingly and go to a senior’s residence.
Locally, young people are having difficulty finding rental accommodations that they can afford, especially those working in the service industry. “High rents mean local employers cannot attract and retain workers, with some employers incurring costs in order to house or transport their workers.” *
“Access to housing is a basic right, equally accessible to all ages, genders, ethnicities and incomes. Access to safe and affordable housing impacts our local economy – can people live near their place of work? The security of having a stable and safe home is directly linked to every home owner and renter’s sense of belonging and well being. If people spend too much on housing, their financial health is compromised and perhaps, access to other essentials including healthy food is diminished.”**
The Declaration of Human Rights Article 25 states that housing is a human right.
People with minimum wage, part-time and/or temporary employment and those on social assistance struggle to pay rising rental rates, which compromise their ability to pay for food, hydro and other basic needs. Safe and secure housing that is affordable also ensures that people have the stability to find and keep jobs, seek further education, and participate in community life. Wages, particularly in the tourism and service sectors, are not increasing to reflect the market rates of housing.
“Vehicle ownership is required for rural living. Affordable housing is typically not built near to services or stores and this limits housing options available to those without reliable transportation. A labour shortage may be created locally because employees cannot find accommodation close to their work. Factors that make a home happy include proper heating and cooling, clean water, and healthy materials, as well as easy access to outdoor recreation spaces, arts and culture, and health care.”***
Georgian Bay Home Share is a new and innovative initiative of Grace United Church Thornbury that will help to solve the housing crisis in the southern Georgian Bay area. It is intended to address the serious lack of affordable housing for low income wage earners as well as the goal of providing a way that seniors can age at home.
The economy of the Blue Mountains, Meaford, and Thornbury community will also benefit from this arrangement as local employers, particularly in the service and retail industries, will be able to hire from an increased work force. Seniors will not be forced to enter seniors’ residences, therefore reducing the pressure on the health care system and the need to build more of these homes. Families will benefit from having their loved ones safe and happy in their own homes.
* The Housing Affordability Task Force, Town of Collingwood.
**Stewart Reid, Mosaic & The Owen Sounder Magazine.
***Community Foundation Grey Bruce Vital Focus on Housing Report