Ontario pressing ahead on affordable housing

Posted on September 1, 2011 in Inclusion Debates

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TheStar.com – news/onterio
Published On Tue Aug 30 2011.   Laurie Monsebraaten, Social Justice Reporter

Queen’s Park is pushing ahead with plans to spend $481 million in federal-provincial funds on affordable housing initiatives despite the lack of a joint announcement of the deal.

As reported by the Toronto Star on Saturday, Ottawa and Queen’s Park inked a 50-50 cost-sharing agreement on July 12 to spend the money on new construction, renovation, rent supplements and affordable home ownership programs over the next three years.

But the two levels of government have been unable to agree on a date to announce the deal.

The agreement gives the province authority to green-light plans submitted by municipalities that administer affordable housing programs in the province.

But municipal housing officials, who received “notional allocations” from the province for planning purposes, say they were told not to disclose details of the agreement until it becomes public. It meant they were unable to seek local council approval necessary to apply to the province for funding.

Now that details of the agreement are public, a spokesperson for Ontario Housing Minister Rick Bartolucci said municipal housing officials are free to discuss it and bring proposals forward to their councils for approval.

“We are focused on moving forward so that Ontario residents with various housing needs receive the services they require in a timely manner,” said Laura Blondeau.

The money is part of a 2008 agreement between Ottawa and the provinces to spend a combined $1.9 billion over five years on affordable housing initiatives across the country.

The agreement called for an update by March 2011 to determine how provinces would spend the remaining $1.4 billion. The new framework agreement was announced July 4.

Under Ontario’s new bilateral deal with Ottawa, municipalities will have the flexibility to spend the money in the designated areas best suited to local need, provincial officials said.

About $177 million will go to municipalities in the Greater Toronto Area, including $108 million to Toronto; $32 million for Peel; $22 million for York and $15 million for Durham.

< http://www.thestar.com/news/ontario/article/1046999–ontario-pressing-ahead-on-affordable-housing >

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