Prologue - Agatha Farmer
I have had the privile of interviewing and speaking with many people throughout Muskoka who find themselves in this hopeless and stressful situation. I have had people email me to tell me that they are homeless and have received zero assistance from the municipal government. It's heartbreaking to know that there is nothing you can do to help these fellow humans. These stories have intensified and become more frequent over the last 5 years and yet our municipal government turns a blind eye while claiming they are doing enough, or what they can. After sitting in countless council and committee meetings I can tell you with certainty that No they are NOT. Hiring consultant after consultant while pissing away our tax dollars to inform them about housing strategy is NOT working. I would assume that bureaucrats who receive over bloated salaries and are hired for a specific job shouldn't require such an onslaught of consultants. Muskoka's housing task force is a joke. I know because I sit on it. This task force was meant to be a community project instead it's a bureaucrat and council led initiative pre-planned with their options and views. I would suggest that for our next municipal election on Oct. 18, 2021 we find and support candidates who are willing to go against the grain and actually work for people. There are too many councillors afraid to be anything less than political. This is NOT working for the people who call Muskoka home. Those who call Muskoka their second home tend to be more taken care of by our municipal leaders. This needs to change.
I received the story below from a Bracebridge mother last night following posting about the district's recent housing feel good email in which they encourage housing task force members to talk about all the good things the district is doing for housing. What good things? Because the stories I hear are anything but good news stories.
Submitted by Angie Gibbs
"Ever since I moved here in 2002 I have had troubles finding affordable housing and it's very frustrating even more so now, as I'm back looking.
I have been in district housing twice and both times were tormented and harassed so badly I had no choice but to move and I got TOUGH skin! I have been in contact with the district and they aren't much help said they couldn't do anything. How am I, a single mom on disability not welfare, suppose to find a place for my kids and I to call home. I have to stay in Bracebridge as my doctors and support is here as well as my kids lives; school, friends and family. I find this housing crisis horrifying and terrifying. If I end up homeless my kids go to children aid ... why cause I had no choice. I pray and wish and hope and talk to the stars that i'll get into a safe clean healthy living space soon but I've already been looking for 13 months."
Here are some frightening Muskoka housing stats:
- 50 percent of Muskoka residents cannot afford 1-3 bedrooms
- 50 percent of Muskoka households earn less than $39,000 annually.
- To rent the average priced house in the region a Muskoka resident would need to have $100,000 in income. - A very low vacancy rate in the district of 1.7 percent, in a healthy economy a rate north of 3 percent is generally seen.