VIDEO: Plan Calls to End Homelessness in Windsor by 2028

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New data suggests the affordable housing and homelessness crisis in Windsor is getting worse, but city council is being asked to end homelessness by the year 2028. 

A report presented at Wednesday's Community Services Standing Committee estimates 6,500 people in Windsor can't afford their homes, since they spend more than 50 per cent of their income on housing.

It also predicts 1,200 people will experience homelessness in the city by the end of 2019, while 170 people are considered chronically homeless.

The information was shared in a report called "Home, Together" -- a 10-year plan that calls on council to create more housing and leverage more money, to house 100 per cent of homeless people.

"Housing ends homelessness. We need to build it, so let’s get building,” says Joyce Zuk, the Executive Director of Family Services Windsor-Essex.

The plan sets various targets to increase the number of new affordable housing units by 30 per cent and get 100 per cent of people experiencing chronic and episodic homeless housed by 2028.

"I would ask members of this community that think a 10-year timeline is too lofty, how long should we wait for basic human rights? The answer is, we shouldn't wait," adds Zuk.

Ward 3 councillor Rino Bortolin tells CTV Windsor he supports the plan. 

"If we want to actually eradicate this in the 10 year timeframe they've laid out, we need to be aggressive with it," admits Bortolin.

But the plan comes with a steep price.

For example, the 150-unit Meadowbrook housing complex cost $39-million but the city used government funding to pay for half of that cost.

According to the report, the private and not-for profit sectors are willing to help but will need incentives such as community improvement plans.

"A lot of these things can change immediately, and external developers can start creating housing that will help alleviate a lot of the problems,” says Bortolin.

Debbie Cercone, the city's Executive Director of Housing and Children's Services, believes many groups will come together to achieve this lofty goal. 

"We can end chronic homeless," says Cercone. "That's how we're going to approach this, is more working together, as opposed to working in silos."

Bortolin hopes council will act on the recommendations in the plan as early as the 2020 budget.

"We have a lot of master plans that sound really good and look really great on a shelf and we don't put the extra effort and money where our mouths is."

The report also notes the number of people waiting for affordable housing as well as those living on the streets has doubled in the last five years.

The city has a list of more than 5,700 people waiting for affordable housing.

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Hall Ave resident Scott Payne's garage where he discovered squatters had been living for several weeks (Photo by AM800's Zander Broeckel)

Marion Overholt, a lawyer with Legal Assistance of Windsor, compared the problem to basement flooding. She notes when 6,000 plus homes were flooded in 2016, the city reacted swiftly and dedicated tens of millions of dollars towards infrastructure improvements.

Overholt asks why not address homelessness with the same rigour?

She adds if the housing supply doesn't increase, the community will continue to "recycle the poor."