Melanie Schultz, who once experienced homelessness, weighs in on the importance of affordable housing
By Deron Hamel
Melanie Schultz knows first-hand that affordable housing is a cornerstone of a happy, healthy community.
Once a homeowner, the Brantford resident experienced more than four years of homelessness, a time she describes as being “humiliating and most disconcerting.”
But Melanie has been living in her own apartment since September. And by having her own place to call home, Melanie says her quality of life and outlook have greatly improved.
“[I]’m deeply and sincerely thankful for having my own place to live in and feel ‘human’ again.”
Melanie says her experience is a microcosm of what a community goes through when there is an affordable housing shortage, adding there is a negative trickle-down effect that impacts everyone.
“Homelessness results in loss of worth, identity and security,” she says. “In turn, increasing homelessness in a community lends itself to a generalized atmosphere of depression and impoverishment in the community. A healthy community addresses the fundamental needs of its people.”
Belonging Brant is facilitating a community-driven response to address the housing crisis in Brantford by creating tiny homes in the city.
The goal is to work with the City of Brantford to build one tiny home as a pilot project and eventually build more accessory dwellings to address the housing crisis and create a stronger community where everyone can have a home.
While Melanie agrees that creating a community of affordable homes is a good start, she says if the tiny-home project is successful, providing tiny-home residents with rent-to-own or subsidized ownership options would also be beneficial.
“I would love to see possibilities of ownership,” she says.
Reflecting on her own experiences with the housing crisis, Melanie says having a place to call home once again has positively impacted her life.
“It’s been an adjustment, seeing as I was a homeowner at one time and now find myself in a different ‘financial category,’ but I’m deeply and sincerely thankful for having my own place to live in and feel ‘human’ again,” she says.
“I just thank you for being caring enough to ask me about my experience,” she adds. “For these few minutes you gave me a voice. That means a lot.”
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