Ontario announces new affordable housing plans

Published On March 14, 2016 | By HN Staff | News
Homeless man sitting on the street. Flickr/ Victoria Johnson

Homeless man sitting on the street. Flickr/ Victoria Johnson

Cheyenne Lynch

Queen’s Park is giving cities in Ontario the power to require new developments to include affordable housing in their residential projects.

It’s part of the province’s update to the long-term affordable housing strategy.

“With some 91,000 families on the wait list for affordable housing in Toronto, the need is particularly urgent here, in Canada’s largest city,” said Larry Richards, former dean of Architecture, Landscape, and Design at the University of Toronto.

“Civilized, progressive cities are inclusionary, making sure that everyone has access to decent, affordable housing.  So I applaud the Province of Ontario’s initiative to establish new rules that will mandate that builders of new residential projects include affordable housing,” said Richards.

The inititave is part of the government’s 10-year plan is to increase the amount of affordable housing, with the province investing $17 million to support domestic violence survivors, as well as an additional $45 million to the Community Homelessness Prevention Initiative.

“We recognize that there are still many challenges with the housing system and with unmet demand for affordable housing. The update builds on the work of the original strategy to reflect current research and best practices,”said Mark Cripps, senior communications advisor at Ontario Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing.

 

The province is introducing a suite of legislative and policy measures, investing $178 million over three years to affordable housing.

The ministry has also earmarked $100 million for services such as counseling, medication dispensing and life skills. Developing an Indigenous Housing Strategy with the Indigenous communities is also a priority.

“It is important that Queen’s Park recognizes the urgency for cities in Ontario to provide adequate affordable housing,” said Darlene O’Leary, Socio-Economic Policy Analyst at Citizens for Public Justice.

“We know that the waiting list for affordable housing in Ontario is higher than it has ever been, currently at more than 168,000 households. This is a housing crisis that needs immediate action,” O’Leary said

This strategy comes days after the United Nations urged the Canadian Government to do more regarding the persistent national housing crisis.

“There needs to be a national housing strategy to address the need for adequate affordable housing across the country, with the federal government working with provinces, territories and municipalities. This is one aspect of what we want to see in a comprehensive national anti-poverty strategy,” she said.

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