Affordable housing deal between Ottawa and Queen’s Park finally signed
TheStar.com – news/canada/politics
Published On Tue Nov 08 2011. Rob Ferguson, Queen’s Park Bureau
A new $481 million program to bring new or renovated affordable housing units to about 7,000 Ontario families will only put a dent in the problem, but is nonetheless welcome, a Toronto city councillor said Tuesday.
About one-fifth, or $108 million, of the money in a federal-provincial program first revealed by the Star in August will go to Toronto now that the deal has been officially signed.
“Frankly it doesn’t come close to the needs that we’ve got but it will do an important job,” said Coun. John Parker (Don Valley West).
Housing advocates say about 152,000 Ontario households are on waiting lists for affordable housing and an estimated 20 per cent of tenants are paying more than 50 per cent of their income on shelter.
The cost of the three-year program has been split equally between the federal and Ontario governments and will give municipalities applying for cash more freedom in deciding how best to spend it to meet local needs, said Ontario Housing Minister Kathleen Wynne.
It’s part of the push by Premier Dalton McGuinty’s government to ease poverty, she added in a ceremony with federal Human Resources Minister Diane Finley at a new YWCA building at the corner of Bay and Elm Sts. that will house 300 families.
“Children who have safe homes do better at school, they go on to more fruitful careers and better lives . . . all of that work together can help break the cycle of poverty,” Wynne told a small crowd, apologizing for the delay in announcing the program.
“I was going through an election so I was holding Diane up,” she said of the Oct. 6 vote, which saw McGuinty returned with a minority government.
Officials said the $481 million will provide funding for about 1,000 new housing units with retrofits and repairs at another 6,000 existing units in poor condition.
The work will create about 5,000 construction jobs.
Aside from the $108 million for Toronto, Peel Region will get $32 million, York $22 million and $15 million for Durham. Applications from municipalities can now be finalized, and money can also go to rent supplements, shelter allowances or home ownership assistance.
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