150 public housing units still vacant, but situation improving: Report
LONDON, ONT. -- In their first update since council ousted the board of London Middlesex Community Housing (LMCH), city administration highlighted the progress made to resolve the vacancy crisis, but admits there is still a lot of work ahead.
Last August, city council received a scathing report by audit firm KPMG that revealed a vacancy problem at the housing agency.
In the midst of a housing crisis, LMCH had 174 vacant units in June 2019 - 102 more than the provincial average. Similar rent-geared-to-income housing providers take 20 to 55 days to repair and rent vacant units, while in London turnover averaged 109 days.
In September, council replaced the LMCH board of directors with a single municipal manager, Sandra Datars Bere, and directed her to provide quarterly updates. The first report is now public.
“I think it's better. I think it will continue to get better. It takes a bit of time. The number of units vacant is around 150,” says Datars Bere.
The report to city hall’s Community and Protective Services Committee also highlights a pair of new partnerships.
The London Home Builders' Association has offered to share industry knowledge to help LMCH improve its processes.
And Datars Bere says Fanshawe College sees an opportunity to get students involved in repairs, “They would like to use some of the housing units as a place for training for their students that are involved in their construction programs.”
But while progress begins, the quarterly update is clear that a lot of work remains.
LMCH tenant Dale Ronhorn says there have been more contractors working in his Boulee Street townhouse complex, but the unit next to his has been vacant for roughly eight months.
“It's ridiculous. They should be getting people in here and cleaning these units out, fixing them up, doing what they have to do to get people into affordable housing because some people need it.”
The report will be discussed at a city hall committee meeting on Tuesday.