WINCHESTER – A group of caring people throughout the region have launched the Places For People Dundas County project.
The project is an idea that came out of Linking Hands’ Housing Working Group.
After two information meetings held in both ends of the county, over the past year, Places For People is up and running.
A meeting to formally accept applications for a membership on the project’s steering committee took place on Thurs., Aug. 30 in the North Dundas’ council chambers.
Eight members were selected with the promise of several more to come from those who could not attend the meeting, but had asked to be included among the collective.
Now that the committee members have been brought on board, the work of getting the project designed to create affordable housing units in Dundas County is underway.
“Now we have eight members on the steering committee. That will get us started,” said Cathy Ashby, the executive director of the House of Lazarus.
The goal of the project is to provide affordable rental units in Dundas County that would offer tenants not just housing they can afford, but community support as well.
The target applicant for the plan would be those residents living in poverty, who are in need of affordable housing and want to experience a positive difference in their lives.
Ashby believes in the project. “We need to actually do this,” she said, adding, “I want to have at least one unit within the year.”
North Dundas Mayor Eric Duncan said he is supportive of the project. “It is a local movement and is a natural for the House of Lazarus and Linking Hands,” he said.
Duncan explained the community background that both groups have, gives them credibility and ensures success.
Now that the steering committee has been selected, more community members are expected to join and the task of designing a framework for the project has begun.
The committee will work to secure funding through grants, donations and in-kind offerings to obtain a rental unit either by buying one or building one.
The committee is currently going through the motions of creating a successful business plan for the project.
Still to be decided is who would be eligible to apply for a rental unit. That crucial decision will be left up to a social policies committee. That committee will consider the many factors related to helping the people in need of affordable housing. Ashby said she wanted the eligibility list to include as many people as possible from single individuals to families.
“There are no affordable housing units for single people or families in Dundas County,” she said.
She said once the social policies committee has been put together they will start looking at that crucial aspect of the project. One of the key aspects of the application process is that successful applicants must be willing to work with a mentor to help them realise goals they have set for themselves.
“A big part of this is getting community support to the tenants so that they can make a difference in their life,” said Ashby.
The steering committee is made up of different sub-committees. The various group will focus on a business plan, fundraising and investors, marketing the project and social policies.
The executive director is confident that the community support the idea has already received, along with provincial and municipal support, will make all the difference in making Places For People Dundas County successful.
“It only takes one organization to get it going,” Ashby said.
The steering committee is looking for community members to join. The Places For People committee includes the executive director of the House of Lazarus, a representative of Linking Hands Dundas County and several community members who share in the vision of People For Places Dundas County.
Also joining the committee in a supportive and resource role will be representatives of the Township of North Dundas Township and the Municipality of South Dundas, as well as the City of Cornwall Housing Department, who will join as non-voting members of the committee.
Sandy Casselman, the Linking Hands co-ordinator, said several resource people from the Dundas community will also be joining the steering committee.
Examples of the kind of representation the steering committee is looking for are: legal, financial, real estate, building and construction, social, medical and communications, marketing, business development, human rights, community members with a passion for housing issues, public speaking or presentation skills, social workers, human resources, home inspectors trades.
Anyone interested in either joining the steering committee or becoming one of its resource members can email Sandy Casselman at firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 613-989-3850.