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MAHC partners with Muskoka landlords to tackle housing shortage for medical workers

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Muskoka Algonquin Healthcare (MAHC) forged partnerships with local landlords and established the 'Housing for Healthcare' program to address the surge of remote medical workers relocating to the region.

"Inventory of housing and rentals was low, and if there was any, it was quickly snatched up, which also then drives up the pricing," explained Diane George, Muskoka Algonquin Healthcare's Vice President of Integrated Care, Patient Services and Quality.

The partnership also added the MedsHousing program, a one-stop shop targeted specifically towards housing for all medical professionals and students in Muskoka.

The platform's founder said within the first few weeks of launching, it had more than 60 local listings from people wanting to be part of the solution.

"If you're a part of an emergency team, you need to be within 20 minutes of a hospital. So we seek landlords who understand the medical community," said MedsHousing Founder and CEO Anne-Marie Lyttle.

MAHC believes by creating availability and affordability, participating landlords are ultimately helping the community by creating a competitive edge in recruiting healthcare workers to the area.

"For us to participate and work with the community to find solutions to help people find housing that's good for them while they find a permanent location, that's a great start for someone's employment because it takes a lot of the stress off," said Muskoka Algonquin Healthcare CFO Alasdair Smith.

"We're all looking for the same small pool of health resources, so any advantage we can have. Any way we can make it easier for people to transition or relocate here, any way we can help our community," added George.

Peter Kelley, Chair of Muskoka's Housing Task Force, said there has been lots of development for luxury waterfront properties but little energy towards housing development for people of more modest means.

"Having an opportunity to attract new people is more than just having social clubs and parks and recreation. It's having the basic elements of affordable and attainable housing," said Kelley, who is also mayor of the Township of Muskoka Lakes.

Smith said he has used the MedsHousing service and believes it's a significant first step to help recruiting, but ultimately, it highlights the need to develop affordable housing that isn't unique to this community.

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