You may have heard there’s a housing crisis. Sky-high costs, especially in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area, are making it harder and harder for all but the richest of the rich to be able to get the housing they need. This seems like a problem that the government could help solve. Or if not the government, then someone adjacent to the government like a provincial opposition leader and Member of Provincial Parliament.
“Ontario is neck-deep in a housing affordability crisis,” said Guelph MPP Mike Schreiner while announcing a new motion he intends to bring to the Legislature. “It’s at a breaking point, And it’s only getting worse.”
Schreiner’s new motion came one day after an Auditor General’s report said that not only has affordability in Ontario gotten worse in recent years, the Provincial government has not done a lot to actively fight the issue. The provincial average to rent a one-bedroom apartment is $1,241 per month, and over 211,000 households in Ontario are waiting for social housing.
“The Ministry does not evaluate the effectiveness of programs and services provided with provincial funding to people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness,” said the report from Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk.
More than that, the report noted that social assistance is the primary source of income for people who are homeless, or at risk of becoming homeless, another reminder that the $508 per month from Ontario Works or the $1,169 per month from Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) is not doing enough to help.
At the same time, the Auditor General noted that municipalities have had to increase their budget to fight local homelessness by 59 per cent over the last four years while at the same time the Provincial and Federal governments have only increased their budgets 32 per cent and 29 per cent respectively.
“The status quo is not sustainable or right. And it has to change. Housing costs and rent continue to go through the roof as the government sits idly by,” Schreiner said. “Everyone deserves an affordable place to call home.”
Schreiner’s motion calls upon the Government of Ontario to implement a number of immediate actions to fight homelessness including the construction of 100,000 new permanent affordable rental units, the construction of 60,000 new supportive housing units, $100 million in seed money for co-operative housing, and the extension of financial support for housing costs to 311,000 Ontarian.
The motion also calls on the government to “Take every opportunity to lease publicly owned land to nonprofits, co-ops and other housing providers for permanently affordable housing and attainable home ownership opportunities,” and to expand inclusionary zoning so that it applies to all new housing projects.
“This is what a real plan for real action on housing looks like,” Schreiner added.
This latest move to battle the rising cost of housing comes about a month after the Government of Ontario promised to create a Housing Affordability Task Force that will find ways to create more housing options faster as part of their fall economic update. In October, Schreiner tabled a motion to declare a climate and housing affordability emergency, but it failed to secure a majority vote in the Legislature.
In June, Schreiner announced the Green Party’s housing plan, which included a number of the measures set out in Thursday’s motion plus provisions for restoring 260,000 community housing units, and investing $5 billion in green building programs.