This web-page will provide you with some information about the lack of affordable housing in Frontenac County, and issue a call to action to local residents to be a part of the solution to reduce and ultimately end homelessness. Here, you will find resources, links, stories and ideas of ways to respond as a community, to generate more affordable housing options in Frontenac County.
Please note: This page does not intend to offer or replace legal or professional advice. It is only intended to generate a discourse about homelessness and the barrier of lack of affordable housing, and generate ideas for creative ways to resolve this shortage. Where possible, we are providing links to municipal plans and contacts, and resources that should be used as guidance only.
More links, downloads and other resources will continue to be added to this web-page.
Lack of affordable housing
Affordable housing is limited in Frontenac County, and low-income individuals and families are having ongoing challenges to find suitable housing. These people are at increased risk of becoming homeless.
Frontenac County has a higher percentage of home ownership compared to rentals, and very few purpose-built rental properties, i.e. apartments, when compared to urban centres, like Kingston.
Rents have increased across Ontario (by an average of 24% between 2005 and 2015) and the number of units provincially has also dropped. By comparison, employment income and social assistance only grew 13-15% in that same period.
When you add on increasing costs of utilities such as hydro, it is becoming very difficult to afford to own a home or to rent one, if you can find one.
Limited employment opportunities, lack of access to transportation, rapidly increasing utility costs and an aging population relying on pensions, contribute to the lack of ability to afford what limited rental options are available
Homelessness in Frontenac County
According to the 2018 homelessness enumeration count, over 60 individuals representing 37 households in Frontenac County considered themselves homeless, which includes more than a dozen children.
The Housing and Homelessness Services System (HHSS) of Kingston and Frontenac employs two Homelessness Prevention Worked in Frontenac County. Annually, they support about 300 clients who are homeless or at-risk of becoming homeless.
Rural homelessness is often considered “hidden homelessness” because it is not visually apparent as it is in urban centres, with people on the streets. Often, rural homeless are “couch surfing” with no permanent home to go back to. They can be living in their cars, tenting on remote properties, or living in hunting camps or sheds that lack basic services (water, heat, electricity, proper sanitation/septic).
People at risk of homelessness may include
A senior whose spouse has passed away and with a single government pension is unable to afford living in the same country home with increasing property taxes and utility bills
A family whose primary wage-earner has lost their job and has been given a hydro shut-off notice or an eviction notice for being a few months behind in making payments
A person who is on social assistance that does not cover the costs of their housing and transportation to the only job they can get
A 17-year old who has experienced family breakdown due to alcoholism of a parent, and desperately wants to complete their high school diploma with the friends and teachers at the school they’ve always attended
A woman who flees domestic abuse but does not have income because she has not been allowed to work or gain skills to be employable as a result of her abuse
All of these people need a place to stay. Unfortunately, the options are limited.
Rural Homelessness Links
What Housing and Homelessness services already exist in Frontenac County?
The City of Kingston and County of Frontenac receive funding through the Community Homelessness Prevention Initiative of the Province of Ontario. The City acts as the “Service Manager” coordinating housing and homelessness services in both the city and county.
In Frontenac, three organizations have formed a collaborative that delivers homelessness services.
Southern Frontenac Community Services (SFCSC) is one of three agencies that works together in the collaborative, the others being Rural Frontenac Community Services (RFCS) and Addictions and Mental Health of Kingston Frontenac Lennox and Addington (AMHS-KFLA).
The collaborative employs two Homelessness Prevention Workers who provide services to people in Frontenac County who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. The service is not a crisis service, but works deliberately and intentionally with individuals and families to help them become and remain stably housed.
The guiding philosophy of the Housing and Homelessness Services System is referred to as a “Housing First” model, that is, the importance of getting someone housed is first priority. After they are housed, the person or family is provided with other supports and resources to assist them with staying housed. These supports can include:
Financial assistance for utilities arrears, rent arrears, or first and last months rent
Help with housing searches, negotiating with landlords, help with moving
Referrals to find sources of income (jobs, social assistance)
Referrals to budgeting, counselling, addictions and mental health supports
Application to programs to reduce utility bills
Referrals to food bank
Unfortunately, Homelessness Prevention Workers in Frontenac County are having difficulty even achieving that first important step in Housing First of getting people housed – because rentals are so few in the County. Housing is very hard to find, especially in the more rural areas, and often not accessible or affordable. As a community, we need to think about how each of us can be a part of the solution.
Housing and Homelessness Collaborative partners
What can residents of Frontenac County do to increase the number of affordable housing units?
The Collaborative is encouraging residents in Frontenac County to consider how they can create “housing stock” – namely, more, affordable rental units. Here are three ideas:
Rent a room. There are many big old country homes in Frontenac County, and as family sizes decrease, especially as our rural population ages, the costs of owning these homes becomes more challenging. A homeowner can become a landlord and rent a room at an affordable rate. The landlord earns income from the rental, which in turn, helps them reduces their costs of home ownership.
Do a home share. Seniors in particular may feel isolated if they live in homes far from village centres, and as they age, seniors may become less functional. A home share is a concept where you rent a space in the house (room) for a highly affordable rent, with an agreement that the renter helps with household tasks, which could include cleaning, cooking, shopping, home maintenance, yard work, and so on. This provides an affordable rent, some income, a helping hand, and safety and security.
Build or buy a tiny home. If you have property that will allow it, you can place a tiny home on it if you live in Central and North Frontenac Townships. Both townships have recently completed updates to their Official Community Plans and will allow tiny homes to be placed on properties that meet certain conditions. An advantage of this, along with earning extra income, is that there is greater privacy.
Become and advocate. If you don't have the physical space to create a rental, learn about the issues and become a local advocate for affordable housing. Find out what is already happening in your community and Township, and what more you can do.
What are people doing in other communities?
If you are interested in creating affordable housing in rural Ontario, take a look at Places 4 People in Haliburton County. This innovative model creates affordable housing by buying existing properties in need of repair. Through community spirit, fundraising and volunteer work, the properties are fixed up and ready to be rented. The homes are rented to families in need of support at a rate they can afford. To top it off, a portion of their rent goes into a savings account. When they are ready to move on, they already have ‘nest egg’ saved up towards their new home.
Homeshare Northumberland in Coburg, Ontario, is offered by Cornerstone Family Violence Prevention Centre and is an innovative and creative housing solution that connects single women who are willing to open their home with other women living in the community who are seeking safe and affordable accommodation. Participants benefit from companionship, offset living costs and shared household responsibilities. The HomeShare program’s role is to discover if there is a perfect match.
The Toronto HomeShare Pilot Project is a City of Toronto Initiative arising from the Toronto Seniors Strategy, with funding from the Ontario Ministry of Seniors and Accessibility. The National Initiative for the Care of the Elderly (NICE) is implementing the pilot in partnership with the City and the Toronto Seniors Strategy Accountability Table, a group of seniors, caregivers and other community partners dedicated to adequately and effectively supporting Toronto’s ageing population.
The pilot will match older adults (55+) who have a spare room in their home with younger adults (students) who are looking for affordable housing. In exchange for reduced rent, the students agree to provide five to seven hours per week contributing to the household. This could be preparing and sharing meals together, light housework, errands or walking a pet.
The Toronto HomeShare Pilot Project is about more than a room in a house – it is a way to help older adults age successfully in place and to remain engaged in their communities. It is also a way to increase intergenerational awareness and connection.
The Foyer is a leading example of social innovation in the area of transitional housing. The Foyer offers an integrated living model where young people are housed for a longer period of time than is typically the case, are offered living skills and are either enrolled in education or training, or are employed. It is a transitional housing model for youth that has attained great popularity in the UK, Australia and elsewhere, and can offer inspiration for how we might address the housing needs of homeless youth, and in particular younger teens and those leaving care (child protection) or juvenile detention. The Foyer model is currently being piloted in at least two Canadian cities (Calgary and Edmonton), in ways that adapt the model to our context and integrate important innovations.
To find out more, please contact:
Homelessness Prevention Worker
613-376-6477, ext. 203