Unseen housing plan

TheStar.com – Opinion/Editorial
Published April 20, 2010.

In the 2007 election campaign, the provincial Liberals promised to produce an affordable housing strategy for Ontario. They have yet to deliver on that promise.

The Liberal government has stated that a 10-year plan will emerge this spring. But the recent budget was silent on the subject, and there is growing concern that the government will use the economy as an excuse to release a plan that falls well short of what’s required.

Accordingly, the Ontario Housing Network, a coalition of housing and anti-poverty groups, went to Queen’s Park on Monday to urge the government to produce a bold plan that includes: sustained funding to maintain the affordable housing we already have; a strategy to increase the supply of housing that is actually affordable for those in need; and transparent accounting of how the money is spent and what it achieves.

Right now, we have none of the above.

The sorry state of the province’s affordable housing system and the lack of a strategy to improve it have been criticized not only by the housing coalition but also by Ontario’s auditor general.

In his annual report last year, Jim McCarter found that over half the apartments being built under the existing affordable housing program carry rents that are far higher than the 140,000 Ontario households on the waiting lists can afford. What is the point of an affordable housing program that does not produce housing that is affordable to those who need it most?

After delaying for so long, the least the government should do now is to produce a comprehensive, forward-thinking strategy that ensures most needy Ontarians will finally have decent, affordable homes.

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