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Affordable housing being ignored, insists advocate

In Barrie
Oct 8th, 2010

Barrie’s less fortunate and marginalized residents took to the streets Friday night.
The Barrie chapter of the Simcoe Alliance to End Homelessness held a poverty march to Memorial Square Friday evening where mayoral and ward candidates debated issues around poverty and affordable housing.
Before the debate — which included six of the eight candidates for mayor and 15 candidates for the city’s nine wards — got underway, a roast beef dinner was served up by the Salvation Army.
Candidates discussed issues around transitional housing, homelessness, advocating landlords to work with those on limited incomes, affordable housing as a human right and prejudices against marginalized people.
Moderator Mandy Hillyard said she was disappointed those issues were not being debated more before the Oct. 25 municipal election.
“The candidates in this city aren’t dealing with the issues. Nobody, on any of their web-sites, talked about affordable housing, poverty issues or homelessness,” she said.
“Nobody wants to talk about it. I challenge them to bring it up when they’re going door to door,” she added. “We’re asking them to see it and do something about it.”
The problems of marginalized people in Barrie are not recognized by most residents, Hillyard said.
“People care in this city but I don’t think they realize the depth of poverty and the struggle of the people who are poor,” she said.
“They get all mixed in with the trouble with the bars downtown. Street people are the scape-goats.”
Terry Traynor, who said he is “one step away from living on the street,” wanted to know why there isn’t more affordable housing in the city.
“They allow millionaires in here to make their money (with developments) but they won’t get rid of slumlords,” he said. “They should pass a bylaw to get more inspectors to make places more livable.”
Hillyard challenged the candidates to each donate $25 to the agencies dealing with poverty issues, including the David Busby Street Centre, the Women and Children’s Shelter, Barrie Municipal Non-profit Housing, the United Way of Greater Simcoe County, the West Side Lutheran Church, the Green Party, Youth Haven and the Barrie Community Health Centre.

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