Chatham-Kent residents waiting for geared-to-income rental housing are advised to ensure their needs are current with their life circumstances.
Chatham-Kent Housing Services has reached out to the 1,000 active households on the local rent geared-to-income centralized wait list to let them know that, as of Feb. 1, 2020, refusing an offer of a unit means having to reapply and go to the bottom of the wait list.
The regulatory changes were made by the Ontario Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing to improve wait-list processes and simplify the rules governing community housing, a municipal media release stated.
“Currently, if you make three refusals then your file is cancelled,” Beth Earley, program manager for Chatham-Kent Housing Services, said.
Three refusals is unusual, but it has happened, she added.
Noting the wait time is five years for most of the geared-to-income one-bedroom units in Chatham-Kent, Earley said a person’s life circumstances often changes during that time.
Someone may have applied “in crisis” five years ago at a time when they may have taken anything, she said.
Another example of changing circumstances could be a change in job location, Earley said. If an applicant forgot to change their geared-to-income selection and get offered a unit in Wallaceburg, for example, but commuting to a new job in Chatham is an issue, they could need to turn it down, she said.
Another reason for refusing an offer, Earley said, could be a reluctance to move to another school area.
“There’s any number of reasons of why people may want to turn down a (unit).”
All households on the local geared-to-income centralized waiting list have been contacted by mail to notify them of the new policy regarding refusing offers.
“We really wanted to get the word out for people to contact us and review their housing selections,” Earley said.
A person’s housing selection is “not set in stone” and can be changed whenever their circumstances warrant it as often they like, she said.
“We anticipated that we’d get a lot of contact,” said Earley, adding the department has heard from many of the 1,000 households on the waiting list. “I’ve been happy with the way people viewed the change.”
Earley said people get to select what units they want to be on the list for, so they “should be able to make appropriate selections and not have to turn anything down.”