The City of North Bay will be lobbying Ottawa and Queen’s Park to help finance a program to “avert another major homelessness crisis.”

The motion put forward by Councillor George Maroosis was supported at Tuesday night’s Council meeting.

It cites a recent Near North Landlords Association (NNLA) survey that showed 11.7 percent (approx. 492 people) of member housing stock is facing eviction because of rent arrears.

“When this modest percentage is applied across the total number of units in all the private rental housing stock across Nipissing District, it is estimated that 600 units are in arrears with the possibility that up to 1100 people are at imminent risk of eviction,” reads the motion.

The motion says the repayment plan would see the landlord forgive 1/3 of the arrears, the District of Nipissing Social Services Administration Board (DNSSAB) to fund 1/3, and the final 1/3 would be paid by the tenant.

DNSSAB would finance their share through federal and/or provincial funding programs.

Maroosis says it is a unique partnership.

“It’s just amazing to me that the private sector is here stepping up for 1/3, they want to find a solution for this, they don’t want to put people out on the street. There are many good tenants who have paid their rent in the past who are in arrears,” he says.

Maroosis also says other communities have taken notice of the program.

“There are municipalities across this province who have heard about this program and are asking about it. Our sister city Sudbury was one of the first to make a request to figure out what is being proposed here and seeing if something like this could be workable in their community,” he adds.

Councillor Scott Robertson supported the motion, but also says there’s more work to do.

“I do see this as a short-term solution and a quick fix to an immediate problem and I don’t think it addresses the serious issue of affordable housing and chronic homelessness in any meaningful, or medium or long-term way,” he says.

After a tent city was referenced by another Councillor, Robertson says his neighbourhood in the Ferguson Street area downtown is desperate for action on the issue.

“We know that the situation is a crisis, mainly for the people that are dying in the streets, but also for the people that are experiencing homelessness and the families that live in this neighbourhood and the businesses here,” he says. “I’m not sure how it could get much more desperate than it is now.”

The motion is being forwarded to various politicians, area municipalities and municipal associations.

The Near North Landlords Association includes members from West Nipissing to Mattawa.