June 1 is around the corner, and for many people that means another month’s rent is due during the coronavirus pandemic, whether they can afford it or not.
For one Brockville Ont., area family, the clock is ticking to find a place to live by the end of the month or else they will be without.
“We’re not provided the basic needs these days and this huge health crisis has brought it to the forefront,” said Shannon Dejong.
Dejong says in November, her landlord told her that they sold the home and repairs needed to be done, giving her a move-out date of June 2020.
As the months passed and the pandemic began, Dejong says she became unemployed and has been supporting her family on government assistance.
“We actually don’t have anywhere to go as of right now,” said Dejong, “I don’t qualify for shelter until I’m officially homeless.”
The crisis has left millions of Canadians out of work and applying for Canadian Emergency Response Benefit (CERB).
Last month, MPP and Ontario Minister of Municipal Affairs, Steve Clark, appealed to the federal government for a comprehensive residential rent relief program to assist tenants affected by the economic realities of COVID-19.
“When families are forced to choose between food and rent, it also impacts Ontario landlords and the stability of our rental housing sector.”
This letter inspired Brockville City councillor, Leigh Bursey, to pen his own letter to the federal government. Bursey is an advocate for the community homeless population and has heard from many constituents that making ends meet is not realistic amid the pandemic.
“A residential rent relief program is fundamental at this time in a lot of people’s opinions in a lot of respects, and it’s not just a handout,” said Bursey.
Bursey believes the letters are a first step in creating a dialogue with the federal government.
As for Dejong, she tells Global News that unless something can be done before the end of the month, she will be homeless with her two children. Having a federal rent relief program would change that, she says.
“It would allot me the affordability to say to a potential landlord that I can afford to pay you some rent, and then, in turn, afford to survive,” said Dejong.
Bursey says the federal government has yet to respond to his letter.
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