Housing crisis takes centre stage at national conference

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Habitat for Humanity Canada is in town for their national conference and general meeting and the focus is on housing.

“We’ve never had housing needs like this,” said Habitat Canada President Julia Deans.

The event is being hosted at Caesars Windsor and is using the city as a backdrop because Windsor shares in the nationwide housing shortage.

“You also have one of our most effective Habitat organizations that’s so involved in the community building homes, building gardens,” Deans said while pointing out housing is hard to build because of cost.

Habitat for Humanity is being creative by building multi-units, doing critical repairs, and doing what they can to get housing built.

The biggest challenge?

“It’s hard to get land,” Deans said. “It’s expensive. Municipalities will often donate it, but often they won’t and we need land in order to build the homes our communities need.”

Habitat for Humanity Canada President and CEO Julia Deans seen on May 8, 2024. (Chris Campbell/CTV News Windsor)

Fiona Coughlin, CEO of Habitat’s Windsor-Essex branch, is thrilled to have delegates from 45 branches in town.

“We’re really proud to bring so many housing experts to Windsor-Essex to discuss strategies to address the housing crisis,” said Coughlin, who noted the Windsor branch has built 85 homes in Windsor-Essex and restored 30 units since 1994.

She said Habitat is focused on neighbourhood renewal and have their eye on different parts of the region.

“My goal is always [to] get every boarded up house in the city,” Coughlin said. “I want to take it down and put up a beautiful house and have residents that are giving back to the community and paying taxes too.”

City Coun. Jim Morrison attended the first day of the event Wednesday, “I’d certainly like to help turn those (boarded up houses) over to Habitat for Humanity to make really nice affordable housing in the city.”

Morrison chairs the housing standing committee, which approved 1,000 units this week, but those aren’t considered affordable units.

“We can’t just build for one segment of the population. We need to look after everybody in the community,” said Morrison.