Action Housing is an important organization that provides their services to many of the most vulnerable in our community. Based in Vanier, they have a satellite office in Orléans at the Orléans-Cumberland Community Resource Centre.
Executive Director Marie-Josee Houle states directly and with deep compassion, “There’s a housing crisis in Ottawa. Many people live in precarious housing. It’s a complex issue and there are many factors affecting tenancy. Our mandate is to prevent people from losing their homes. We offer this service free of charge and in complete confidentiality.”
This issue is flying below the radar, especially in Orléans, where a second food bank was recently opened to deal with the ever-growing crisis. While Orléans maintains its appearance as a relatively affluent community, many people are hanging onto their mortgages with a thread.
One of the problems is the lack of diversity of housing in Orleans. There are, of course, many single detached homes, but there are not enough rental accommodations of different sizes. Families and individuals would like to stay in their community but are often forced out because they need to be closer to medical care and social services. In rental housing, this is often compounded with tenants and landlords alike not knowing their rights and responsibilities.
Action Housing provides support by aiding in negotiations with landlords, helping with subsidy applications, providing legal support when property standards are not met and tenancy rights are not respected, and providing tools when looking for safe and affordable accommodation.
A housing crisis, in turn, becomes an economic crisis. The low vacancy rate in Ottawa drives up the price of rental accommodations available on the market. According to the Alliance to End Homeless Ottawa 2018 report, 42% of Ottawa households are spending over 30% of their income on rent and utilizes, and are considered to be living below the poverty line. The same report states that 20% of Ottawa households are spending over 50% of their income on rent and utilities, forcing them to eat at the food banks and to make other difficult sacrifices just to keep a roof over their heads. Meanwhile, the prices keep increasing.
The team at Action Housing is working in coalition with other like-minded organizations and in cooperation with the councilors at City Hall. They need your help and accept donations – which are especially important at this time of year – to help them fulfill their mission: Action Housing is a charitable organization devoted to helping and providing the necessary tools to low- and moderate-income individuals and families in Ottawa to access and maintain safe, adequate and affordable housing.
That’s a goal we can all get behind.