The 2011 Ottawa Report Card on Homelessness was presented by The Alliance to End Homelessness (ATEH) April 3rd at the Ottawa Mission. It was the first time the report has been delivered in such a setting, and it was very appropriate as the men who rely on the Mission are some of the statistics that make up the report. The report card has been a fixture for housing providers for the past eight years. For the 1st time since the start of the report card the city of Ottawa received an “A” rating for creating 739 affordable housing units last year, the result of $14 million dollars being pumped in to the Housing and Homelessness investment plan. The creation of the 700+ units is expected to deliver better results for 2012. That is where the good news ends. More people, longer stays and less money cover the remainder of the report card giving the City a D+, F, A and F. The full report is here: http://www.endhomelessnessottawa.ca/documents/ReportCardOnEndingHomelessnessInOttawaJan-Dec-2011.pdf
The Ontario budget is not going to help, the freeze on social assistance and delays on the cild tax credit are going to make affordable housing more unaffordable for those that the affordable housing model was built for. Ottawa has the 3rd highest rental rates in the country, the freezes and delays in benefits will leave less money for food, clothes and other essentials.
I wrote in December (https://redheartbluesign.wordpress.com/2011/12/29/collective-benefits-of-ending-homelessness/) about the need for a National Homelessness strategy that addresses the growing number of families, women, men and youth that find themselves without enough to live above the poverty line. We must call on Premier McGuinty to stop the reduction of social assistance benefits and we provinces must work with the Harper government to continue and expand the At Home/Chez Soi program after 2013.
It is only through this cooperation can the gap be narrowed and that in subsequent report we will see improvements in the ATEH Report Card for Ottawa.
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