• John Jantak

Lack of affordable housing throughout Vaudreuil-Soulanges region worries L’Actuel


THE JOURNAL FILE PHOTO/JOHN JANTAK

Located at 88 Adèle Street in Vaudreuil-Dorion, Centre d’action bénévole L’Actuel’s offers services to seniors, sick, convalescent and disabled people, low-income families and individuals, and organizations in Vaudreuil-Soulanges.

The Centre d’action bénévole L’Actuel is sounding the alarm about the lack of social and affordable housing in the Vaudreuil-Soulanges region which is negatively affecting low-income earners and especially a large proportion of seniors who are living alone in poverty.

The volunteer organization which helps its clients by providing food and other resources made its appeal for additional help for people in the community who are in need by announcing its requirements to coincide with the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty which is being commemorated by the United Nations October 17.

Unaffordable rent

“When the cost of rent takes 75 per cent or more of out of a person’s monthly budget, they have to cut somewhere and it’s usually groceries,” said Stéphanie Aubert, Director of Individual Services at L'Actuel.

“Last year, we distributed more than 35,000 pounds of food to 259 people and their families. This is just the tip of the iceberg. We imagine there are a large number of people who are reluctant to knock on our door,” said Aubert.

Federal poverty reduction strategy

The organization commends the federal government for adopting a Poverty Reduction Strategy in June of this year that aims to reduce poverty by 20 per cent in 2020 and 50 per cent by 2030. L’Actuel welcomes the commitment and looks forward to seeing real results including more affordable and more social housing being built in the region eventually.

Most people who use L’Actuel’s services are unemployed, on social assistance or receiving employment assistance, and seniors whose incomes drop at retirement. According to the L’Institut de la statistique du Québec, the number of people with low incomes is higher among people aged 60 to 64 compared to those aged 25 to 54 and even among those aged 55 to 59.

More hardships for people living alone

Additional data from the Collectif pour un Québec sans pauvreté indicates one in four people living alone cannot provide for themselves. In Vaudreuil-Soulanges, 23 per cent of seniors aged 65 and over live alone.

“The increase in family allowances the last few years has certainly helped a lot. However, there is still a long way to go with regard to social housing and pensions,” said L’Actuel Director General Francine Plamondon.

Four-year wait for social housing

“When a single mother with two children has been waiting for social assistance for almost four years, this is a sign there’s a problem. We’re also seeing more elderly people asking for food aid,” Plamondon added. “This is disturbing.”

Another troubling aspect is that citizens are often unaware of the help that is available to them. Many seniors don’t realize they can apply for tax credits and other programs. Other people may just give up before completing their forms. There is also a lack of awareness of the services being provided by other community organizations because they are not publicized very well.

People in need encouraged to contact L’Actuel

L’Actuel wants citizens in need to know they can contact the organization Monday to Friday to get more information about their food aid and other services. People can also be referred to other resources in the region. For more than 35 years, L’Actuel has played a vital role in the community by helping families, seniors, the chronically ill, people convalescing and the disabled throughout Vaudreuil-Soulanges.

More information is available on their website at www.lactuel.org/en/ or by emailing info@lactuel.org.

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