By Jean Fair (as published in the Hamilton Spectator)

Steve Buist’s 10/17/19 Spectator article highlighted that Low Income Housing was being concentrated in Hamilton’s Inner City; with 33% of the population, it had 60% of all subsidized units.

Mission Services of James Street North plans to move to 400 King Street East, previously the Canadian Red Cross. Per an 8/22 GALA Herald article, the James St N neighbouring businesses are “thrilled. Mission Services site was a perpetual pain. We are happy to see them go.” Mission intends to almost double the beds at the new shelter. Additionally, they want to house 58 men at nearby 299 Main Street East. Mission Services, a Christian organization, has displayed no regard nor compassion for the impact of their facilities on this already stressed neighbourhood. Apparently, no community consultation was legally needed for either site, and, in fact, we weren’t given any.

83/85 Emerald Street South is right around the corner from the Cathedral Highschool on Main Street East which currently has beds for 100 women. David Joy, the owner, wants to build 70 micro units ranging from 213 to 300 square feet.

These four sites are within a six-minute walk of each other… among residences and a brand new school.

I’ve been concerned for years that mixed housing in the form of Pierre Trudeau’s 1980’s housing co-ops hasn’t been a part of the housing mix, not only in Hamilton but across the country. Only a portion of the residents receive federal subsidies; their ‘rent’ was limited to 30% of their income. The rest of the co-op paid market. Living in shelters comes with a stigma; living in mixed income, co-op housing gives the least well-off residents a real leg up. Housing co-ops were known to increase the morale, help these residents find work, and even end the need for subsidy. They’re non-profit with residents taking care of landscaping, recycling, etc to keep costs low. I wrote a 7/23/2014 letter to the editor, “Can we please share the wealth?” I suggested that Durand was “one of the wealthiest areas in Hamilton.” Jason Farr called to say that, actually, Durand was one of poorest communities in the city… a lot of single parent families living in apartments there. Who knew!! I’ve walked through that neighbourhood for years and didn’t see the poverty. Housing type makes a difference!

Edward John, then director of Hamilton housing, said, “What we don’t want to do is keep pushing the same locations and creating the same stigma …”

Terry Cooke (Hamilton Community Foundation) said, “The concentration of poverty and subsidized housing in Hamilton’s inner city is no accident”. And, “The reality is that organized affluent neighbourhood groups are able through political pressure and NIMBYism to keep this stuff out of their backyards.”

Who at city hall condoned these three properties?? It’s unconscionable! How is this possible … with a mayor who grew up impoverished, and had a special interest in helping make things right.

There’s a plan afoot to build 447 units of mixed housing at the Jamesville site in the north end. 160 affordable units in two seven-storey buildings, and 287 market rate, stacked townhouses.

That’s exactly what our community wants … attractive, mixed housing. These three projects should be repurposed into something suitable to the neighbourhood and the neighbours we love.

I’m asking for members of the community at large to engage by completing the petition we will be circulating door-to-door. We would certainly embrace well-planned mixed-housing, and want Ward 3 to continue to be welcoming towards all residents.