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Our community needs attainable housing solutions.
Together let’s inform, engage, and act.

Your stories

Running your own business is a dream for many. There are perks like making your own schedule and setting your own rules. But it’s no walk in the park. You must constantly adapt. There are many challenges and stresses that come with your own enterprise, and sometimes we forget that employers need employees just as much as employees need employers. To hire and retain employees, those employees first need somewhere to live just as much as they need somewhere to work. So, what happens when the supports are no longer sufficient and the foundations are crumbling?

The housing crisis is a pervasive issue that can be difficult to comprehend unless you’re living it. These personal stories are from Stratford residents, or want-to-be residents, who are navigating the attainable housing challenges in and around the city. By sharing their stories, we hope to shed light on the local need and impact on our community and fellow neighbours.
Together let’s inform, engage, and act.

Star’s Story

Star’s Story

Star owns and operates a small and rapidly growing cleaning business here in Stratford. She is also a mother to three children, all in their twenties. Star offers a unique perspective on the struggles caused by the housing crisis—she sees it firsthand with the employees she hires and the children she has raised.

From the business side of things, Star is a responsible business owner—she cares about her employees, and she ensures her employees are paid a living wage and given extra benefits. She wants to keep her staff and entice new talent to apply—Star has lost employees because they cannot afford to live here.

“As a business owner,” said Star, “it is hard to get employees given the current workforce shortages, but when you do get them, there is nowhere for them to live affordably, so they start looking for other options and often leave Stratford. Why? Those employees are moving to places where housing is more attainable.” For Star and many business owners like her, sustaining and growing a business with workforce and housing challenges is difficult, even when you do your best to care for your employees, “People working full time can hardly pay the bills anymore.” This intersection of housing and employment is a symptom of a significant problem for Stratford: people want to live here, but the lack of places to live drives them away.

As a mother of three young adults, Star witnesses the housing challenges through their eyes. Her 21-year-old daughter moved to Kitchener to get a rental she could afford and to be able to save and pay her bills at the same time. “She has a great apartment in Kitchener. There is nothing in that price range or quality in Stratford. We just don’t have that kind of attainable housing,” Star lamented. Her 25-year-old son works full time and has excellent credit, but he still couldn’t find a place, so he and two friends decided to go in together, hoping to get something they could afford. “It was a bidding war, a battle; you have to fight to get a place to live. People were offering six months’ advance rent payments in cash or offering to pay more rent than what was being asked. How can young people compete with that? Sometimes more than twenty people were trying to battle for one apartment.” Star’s other son, who is 27 years old, also works full time and couldn’t find a place in town, so he lives back at home. She has created a modern-day multi-generational home, primarily out of necessity. “I just can’t imagine how it feels at that age not to have a place of your own,” Star noted sadly. “I also rent a room to a young lady who was renovicted from her apartment and couldn’t find somewhere else to live. I’m doing what I can to help provide housing solutions as there is no other option for Stratford’s many young people.”

Star is familiar with the struggles of those who do not have a home. She recounted a story where she recently spoke to a local man living in a tent because he couldn’t afford a home, even though he works full time with a stable job. He could move, but he stays in town to see his children. “It’s hard to believe that we have people with full-time jobs living in tents,” Star noted.

Star feels angry that people have to be in these situations, her employees, her children, and working community members. “Everyone should help in whatever way they can. Use your voice! Create awareness, and don’t turn away; we are all at risk, so get involved and do something.” Star has seen it firsthand, and she firmly believes there is a problem: our local working class, single parents, and seniors need help. We can’t ignore local needs any longer. “We need more action on creating attainable housing for local working people, not just huge unattainable single-family home construction or short-term rentals for tourists.” Star reminds us of the importance of housing and its broad impact when needed, but scarcely available. Star challenges us to all become advocates, to not turn away but help wherever we can. Our community needs us all.

Select a box to read the full story

Star's Story

Star has lost employees because there is nowhere for them to live affordably.

Dianne's Story

Deciding between keeping her store open and having a place to live is very stressful.

Mary's Story

They struggled to find a suitable and affordable home for their daycare business.

Leigh's Story

It's hard to keep employees when there is nowhere for them to live affordably...

Andrei's Story

It's hard to keep employees when there is nowhere for them to live affordably...

Calum's Story

It's hard to keep employees when there is nowhere for them to live affordably...

Ken's Story

It's hard to keep employees when there is nowhere for them to live affordably...

Ali's Story

It's hard to keep employees when there is nowhere for them to live affordably...

Kim's Story

It's hard to keep employees when there is nowhere for them to live affordably...

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