On Wednesday, April 28th, the community services committee of Lanark County council wrapped up its three-meeting schedule to discuss affordable housing and homelessness. The first two meetings held earlier this year covered county housing programs and what member municipalities could do to improve the moderately-priced housing stock. This third session heard from local non-profit groups working to help solve the issue of out-of-reach home and rental prices. Organizations such as Lanark County Interval House, Cornerstone Landing, and Carebridge Community Support, and others provided details of their operations and challenges. The current COVID-19 pandemic has caused dramatic increases in local housing prices and has removed some rental units from the affordable market as landlords find it hard to resist the opportunity for increased revenues by switching their facilities to open-market rentals.
At the end of the virtual two and a half hour session, county staff presented a recommendation to issue a request for proposals to consider hiring an outside consultant to put numbers to the needs and resources. They also reported that the costs of such a move would be covered by provincial COVID related funding. Some committee members thought this could be done in-house while others felt that the social services department was already stretched thin due to increases in demand over the last year, partially caused by the pandemic and its related restrictions. At the end, the committee voted to have staff issue an RFP and report back with cost estimates in June.