Earlier this month, the United Way Peterborough and District released their Annual Housing is Fundamental report. As a United Way Campaign Cabinet Member, I took particular interest in this years’ report. You can access the entire report by clicking the report cover but I wanted to share a few things that stood out to me.
Living in the County, I’ve often encountered people who think that housing is a ‘city issue’. In fact, I can tell you first hand that housing and issues related to poverty is indeed a country issue and it’s one that exists in Douro Dummer Township. The thing is, it’s much more hidden which makes the problem worse. One can walk a few blocks downtown Peterborough and actually see people who are living on the streets, in tents or otherwise. In the rural parts however, people are couch surfing, pitching trailers or shacks on land owned by friends and family or living in deplorable conditions in neglected homes hidden down heavily treed lanes. They have limited access to services because there aren’t brigades of volunteers and church groups perparing meals for them or checking in on them to make sure they’re okay. As a matter of fact, people living in poverty are often isolated and cut off from interactions with people, much less people who can help.
Those living in poverty in the County are typically living ‘house poor’ meaning they have a home, but it’s all they can afford. They stay there because the risk of not being able to find something else or having to pay rent is too great. So they do without. Even worse, these barely housed people are often seniors and are denied the ability to age with dignity.
It’s a problem in the City as much as it is in the County and although it’s not exclusive to our region, it still needs to be fixed. Local agencies and government are trying to address housing and poverty but we need to shine a light on it so it can be properly identified and addressed.
I encourage you to take a look at the report and let me know your thoughts about the impacts of poverty and housing in the County.