Toronto joins national campaign: Fixing Canada's Housing Crunch

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Yonge Street Media Reports:

Affordable housing's a frequent topic in Yonge Street's Civic Impact section: see our continuing coverage of Toronto's Close the Housing Gap campaign and today's piece on the York Region's 10-year housing plan.

There's a reason for all this attention: municipalities in Ontario, and across the country, are increasingly recognizing that there's a serious problem. Within the next five years, the annual federal subsidies which distribute $1.7 billion annually for social housing programs, are set to expire.

In 2012, the City of Toronto received approximately $161.3 million from the federal government towards social housing, by 2017 that that number is expected to be closer to $128 million (a decline of $33.4 million) and will reach zero by 2031.

Combined with a sustained need for social housing, and (in Toronto at least) a backlog of repairs, the reduction of federal subsidies and the lack of a strong national housing policy, has a lot of municipalities nervous.

That's why, this past Monday, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM)--an umbrella organization representing over 2,000 communities in Canada--launched a new national campaign: Fixing Canada's Housing Crunch. As stated on the FCM website, the new campaign calls "on all orders of government in Canada to focus on the high cost of housing, the most urgent financial issue facing Canadians."

The FCM estimates that without the federal subsidies, 200,000 social housing units across the country are at risk of closing their doors. Currently, there are about 600,000 social housing units, thus, if the FCM numbers are correct, almost 1/3 of Canada's social housing units are in jeopardy.

Toronto City Councillors Ana Bailão (Ward 18 Davenport) and Councillor Pam McConnell (Ward 28 Toronto Centre-Rosedale) attended the campaign launch in Ottawa this past Monday and announced Toronto's commitment to the project.

"This campaign is important because too many Canadians, seniors, low-income families, people with disabilities are without an affordable home, and too many live in homes that desperately need health and safety repair and modernization," stated Bailão at Monday's press conference.

"With more than 90,000 Toronto households on the social housing waiting list, City Council is united in its view on this important issue. We are here today to speak out on behalf of people like them who need their governments to step up, not step back, when it comes to supporting a strong housing system, a system that maintains our national social housing legacy and meets the growing housing needs across our country."

Bailão, Chair of the City's Affordable Housing Committee, is also spearheading Toronto's Close the Housing Gap campaign. Launched last June, Close the Housing Gap, aims to press the federal and provincial governments to continue to support social housing in Toronto.

In its first step to support Fixing Canada's Housing Crunch, Toronto will host a forum to engage residents in the FCM campaign (details still forthcoming).

Writer: Katia Snukal
Source: Federation of Canadian Municipalities, City of Toronto

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