Hamil­ton’s af­ford­able-hous­ing cri­sis: It’s daunt­ing

The Hamilton Spectator - - Opinion -

It’s not get­ting any bet­ter. The list of peo­ple wait­ing for so­cial hous­ing in Hamil­ton now sits at 6,860. Two years ago at was 5,700. We’re go­ing in the wrong di­rec­tion.

It’s not that the City of Hamil­ton is do­ing any­thing wrong. Quite the con­trary. It has in­vested mil­lions in re­pair­ing units and get­ting them back on the mar­ket. Even though 109 units are un­avail­able now due to dis­re­pair, that’s an im­prove­ment from 2016 when that num­ber was more like 200.

So don’t blame City Hall. The re­al­ity is that prob­lem dwarfs the city’s fi­nances and re­sources.

Let’s re­mem­ber the his­tory of this cri­sis. It be­gan 20 years ago with Mike Har­ris down­load­ing so­cial hous­ing to mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties. He did noth­ing to help mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties pay for the added re­spon­si­bil­ity.

For years, Ot­tawa wasn’t been much bet­ter. Cities were around the ta­ble try­ing to deal with so­cial hous­ing, the prov­ince and feds were ab­sent. En­ter the Trudeau gov­ern­ment, which pledged to do bet­ter, and has kept that prom­ise. Late last year, Ot­tawa promised $40 bil­lion over 10 years for its Na­tional Hous­ing Strat­egy. That in­cluded build­ing 100,000 new homes and re­pair­ing 260,000 ex­ist­ing ones. It also in­cluded a new por­ta­ble hous­ing ben­e­fit for low-in­come house­holds spend­ing more than 30 per cent of af­ter-tax in­come on hous­ing. It’s a start, but it’s not enough.

The pro­gram rolls out over 10 years, and that’s too long. Too much of the money is back-end loaded, while need is crit­i­cal and im­me­di­ate. And Ot­tawa fore­saw prov­inces kick­ing in match­ing dol­lars to help. Can any­one pic­ture the Ford gov­ern­ment do­ing that?

This isn’t rocket science. De­cent hous­ing saves lives, re­duces health costs and im­proves the lives of vul­ner­a­ble cit­i­zens. On­tario and Hamil­ton can’t count on Doug Ford, so Ot­tawa needs to do more. Now, not later.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.