Sackville Town Council hears personal stories about housing crisis

Ashley Legere addressing town council

The mother of a young daughter who lives in a three-bedroom home on Squire Street appealed to town council last night for help in solving Sackville’s housing crisis.

Ashley Legere, who works for a non-profit organization finding housing for 185 homeless people in Moncton, says she is now facing homelessness herself.

“As of Saturday, my rental has been sold and I have three months to move out of my home, the only home my daughter has ever known,” she told council.

Legere explained that her rent is $1250 per month including utilities, but that so far, the only comparable housing she can find in Sackville is an unaffordable $2400 monthly with nothing included.

She said she lives in Sackville because the town is a safe place for families and she knows from first-hand experience with her homeless clients in Moncton that the shelters there are scary places.

“The thought of having to give my daughter to someone, so I could end up there, is terrifying,” she said.

“I have a very good job, I’m educated, I’m articulate, I work very hard,” she added, “and the thought of having to leave here or be homeless here is unacceptable.”

Affordable housing group

Aside from her work with the homeless in Moncton, Legere serves as president of the board of directors at Sackville’s Playschool Inc., a licensed early childhood program and last night at council, she spoke as a member of the newly formed Tantramar Affordable Housing Initiative.

Alice Cotton

Alice Cotton, who helped organize the Housing Initiative, told council there are almost no apartments available in Sackville.

“Seniors, people on a fixed income and people on welfare cannot find anything appropriate to their income and needs, and many have had to resort to living with family members in substandard conditions, or couch surf, and eventually leave Sackville, thereby losing the connections and supports they had in this community,” Cotton said.

She added that many houses with apartments are being converted into  single family homes creating a shortage of rental units even as Sackville’s population increases and Mount Allison is preparing this fall for its largest influx of students in 20 years.

Cotton said that rising rents have created hardship.

“Social Assistance income for a couple is about $850 per month, most rents for a one-bedroom apartment are above this amount, leaving nothing for other basic needs like food,” she explained.

“Since September, the Sackville Food Bank has added 51 new households, increasing by 50 per cent.”

Cotton appealed to town council to consider granting permission for mini-homes, recreational vehicles or other temporary structures while working on longer-term housing solutions.

Other stories

Meantime, council heard from Reginald Beal, a father of three young children, a lifelong Sackville resident and full-time worker, who has been looking for housing for the last six months.

“I’ve been told by multiple, different people here in Sackville that they don’t want to rent to families,” he said. “It’s students only.”

He said he’s tried everything, but there’s nothing available.

“I just want somewheres to be able to take my family and call it home,” he added.

“It’s very scary, it’s a very serious situation,” he said. “We need solutions, we need help.”

Teresa Estabrooks

Later, Teresa Estabrooks told council she left an apartment where she paid only $350 because it had rats.

“I came down with parasites because rats were living in my apartment,” she said, adding that after she moved into another apartment, she had to leave when the building was sold.

“I’ve gone through H-E-L-L the last couple of months, not knowing where I was going to live.”

Estabrooks said she is on a fixed income.

“I’m 52-years-old and they put me in a seniors’ home, that’s how the housing is here in this town,” she added.

“I took it because I had to, but I’m not ready yet.”

Sympathetic response

Members of council agreed that the lack of affordable housing is a crisis in Sackville as well as across New Brunswick and in other parts of Canada.

Deputy Mayor Andrew Black said the town should be ready to respond when promised federal construction money becomes available in Ottawa’s new $4 billion Housing Accelerator Fund.

Councillor Sabine Dietz

Councillor Sabine Dietz suggested that the Tantramar Affordable Housing Initiative invite one or two councillors to its meetings as representatives so they can keep the rest of council up to date on the latest discussions.

She also suggested that council should require developers to include affordable rental units as part of new housing projects when the province carries through on its promise to allow municipalities to do this.

Councillors Bruce Phinney and Bill Evans promised to help in any ways they could.

“It’s outrageous that anybody can be working full time and not be able to afford housing,” Evans said.

“That has to be fixed and that’s something that is beyond a municipal mandate, but the fact that we can’t deal with that explicitly doesn’t mean there’s nothing we can do and so, I personally, can commit to working with you to do something, whatever we can do, to help resolve this crisis.”

To read Alice Cotton’s presentation to council on behalf of the Tantramar Affordable Housing Initiative, click here.

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5 Responses to Sackville Town Council hears personal stories about housing crisis

  1. Jim T says:

    Since rent control of 3.9% was put in place January 1, 2022 landlords have to evict tenants to be able to increase rent to a reasonable amount keeping up with cost of living. Rent control has had the opposite effect of what tenants can afford. There is no more meet your tenant and discuss rent increase rather it is 3.9% increase that’s it so don’t blame landlords for shortage of housing blame the ones that fought for rent control, they only have themselves to blame for this mess.

    • . says:

      Cry me a river.

      Budget in accordance with your costs rather than force families to be homeless based solely on greed. Maintaining rental properties with a MAXIMUM 3.8% annual raise is more than sufficient if you have the most basic fiscal management skills. Many jurisdictions in Canada have imposed stricter boundaries to landlords when it comes to raising rent and have yet maintained the profitability of their investments.

  2. Small time landlord says:

    Cry me a river typical answer from a tenant that wants the landlord to carry their expenses. I suppose landlords are responsible for the cost of heating tripling in price in 2 years. Calling landlords greedy is a real solution to the housing crisis instead of being grateful landlords are providing housing, in-fact many landlords are selling their houses because there is no money to be made after expenses.

  3. Kata List Productions says:

    Thanks for covering this issue.. it wasn’t long ago the people of this town were welcoming refugees and providing them with free housing… maybe if Canadians focussed on their own instead of foreigners that are flooding into our nation in record breaking numbers they’d get this problem under control… the current set of politicians have willfully created scarcity by not recognizing how hard it already was for many low income struggling and working class Canadians to secure affordable housing… I don’t mean to pit people against ‘newcomers’ but I would say that part of the reason I got on the local ‘shit list’ was for speaking about this obvious problem in Sackville… I have known for years how kind people are here to ‘incoming foreigners’ while all the time seeing their own struggling and oblivious to helping them… I hope people learn to use discernment on what it means to help your fellow neighbour out…. Its so obvious that there are solutions… stop importing so many newcomers including international students who use this town as an immigration entry point.

  4. The Ontarian, that's right, an Ontarian who lived in NB says:

    This isn’t a Sackville problem. This is a New Brunswick problem. Nbers voted Higgs and Co and they got what they voted for. It’s insanity. New Brunswick has had oil since 1900’s and how that oil wealth is controlled and being used for the very few to benefit from only. When one speaks up and says anything, their told, “that’s the maritime way” really? No foreign investments {who would invest in a province that’s ruled by the Irvings and themselves wont allow any competition} dependance on Ottawa for money and no laws put in place to help people that need more then homes. Nothing gets done in New Brunswick. Now, the ER hospital department and maybe the hospital will close to that’s also in Sackville. People are expected to go to Amherst or Moncton. None of this is acceptable. So why is it being allowed? It’s like talking to a wall. Nothing will change in New Brunswick unless real people who want real change are allowed to do anything. As for Sackville, you deserve better then to be some University town where Students are catered too, but the Old, the Disabled and Families {that create societies} should fend for themself.

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