Category Archives: Affordable Houisng

The Collective Benefits of Ending Homelessness 2

December 2011 I posted “the Collective Benefits of Ending Homelessness”, since then, over 5 years, there have been 500+ clicks to see the post. Five plus years later, it is time for an update. In those five years the conversation has shifted, it has moved from talking about ending homelessness to having available affordable housing, in essence the conversation could now be the “Collective Benefits of Affordable Housing”.

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Back in 2011 I wrote about the then Federal Conservative Government plans to reduce homelessness by finding and funding places for people to get off the streets and under a roof. Was it the right approach? Where does the search to end homelessness begin? Is this is a chicken or the egg situation? What is the right beginning, to create new housing to move people to a house from a room or fund shelter spaces to move people off the street? Whatever the solution, it helps the circle of movement move faster and more efficiently (one hopes).

Since the 2012 report from the Ottawa Alliance to End Homelessness (ATEH) there has been an increase in the number of people accessing homeless spaces. The 2016 report (http://endhomelessnessottawa.ca/resources/2016-progress-report-on-ending-homelessness/) shows that 7170 individuals used a shelter of some sort, not since 2012 have over 7000 people sought a shelter for the night. There is some indication that the federal plan of 2011 has had a positive impact as numbers dropped to 6508 in 2014, but that number has been slowly creeping back up to the numbers released recently by the ATEH.

Why isn’t the needle moving in a positive direction on this? What is hold us back?

With a 10 year commitment from the City of Ottawa to reduce homelessness in its 4th year, there remains a concern that the needs are not being met – and that the reasons for it are changing. Affordability is becoming more and more the reason for not having a permanent home. Youth are couch surfing and families are moving into smaller homes as the cost of rent and everyday needs (like hydro) increase without solid solutions to reduce or stabilize the cost of staying in a home. In 2012 it was estimated that 1000 new housing units were needed annually in Ottawa to meet, reduce and eliminate homelessness. In five years the City of Ottawa has created just under 1300. Based what the ATEH estimated, the Ottawa is 3700 units behind its needs.

It is clear to me each new government has its own ideas for solutions to ending homeless and in 2017 we see affordability becoming a huge issue as the cost to purchase a home rises annually. The Liberals in Ottawa announced $11B over 11 years as part of National housing strategy, but that money is being spread over several initiatives – the $11B sounds like an incredible figure and it is. But on an annual basis the figures do not seem as impressive. As an example, the $3.2B in the Renewed Federal-Provincial-territorial Partnership for seniors housing over 11 years is less than $300M each year.

The $11B is a good first step nationally, but for the 10,000+ on the Ottawa housing wait list it will take years to build those roofs and walls and eventually end homelessness in Ottawa and other communities across Canada. What needs to be addressed is how governments can help the unknown those families, youth and individuals who are not on wait list, we don’t know where they are today or where they will be tonight.

I have hopes that by distributing the $11B through the CMHC it will be a much more effective and efficient flow of funding rather than previously when the money flowed through three different government hands before it got to the providers and builders of affordable housing. One positive out of the 2017 budget is that it should reduce the reporting structure for how the money used while this funding is available over 11 years.

2017 and 2018 will see several Municipal and Provincial elections held, for the social and affordable housing sectors these will be important to hold governments to account for a lack of progress and to ensure incoming governments and councils will take actions that will see less use of shelters as more rooms, apartments and houses for youth, seniors and families will be ready with doors wide open for them.

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I can be found Twitter @robertdekker, @rdmediaottawa and on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97. I can be reached at rdmedia@bell.net.

Out of the ashes of the Glebe Fire: A case for new affordable housing

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This week’s fire in the Glebe was tragic, seven businesses lost their home and 50 people have lost employment. There will be a rebuild, the owners of the building say it will rise again, as it was – a one-story building.

But should it stay the same? Isn’t there a case for more? Not a multi floor condo building but how about there now being a case for affordable rental units, somewhere to provide a home for singles, mothers with children and families?

When first built in the 70’s, our housing landscape was much different than it is now. Ottawa was a sleepy National Capital where the streets did roll up at 6pm. Today and 40 years later Ottawa is vibrant and now there is much activity late into the evening. As the city grew it attracted many people as a place to live. As populations grow, so do the pressures of housing, homelessness and poverty. Today there are 10,000 people on a waiting list for affordable housing.

The Glebe in the last few decades has also seen a transformation, especially with TD Place and Lansdowne Park now in place.

40 years later there is a higher demand for affordable housing that needs to be met. Local initiatives like “Broadening the Base” are good partnerships for the owners of the burned out building. The City of Ottawa also has programs that assist the private sector in creating affordable spaces. It becomes even more enticing for the City to be involved in since recent announcement that 10’s of Millions of dollars are coming to Ottawa from Queens Park to create spaces and help eliminate homelessness. Build into the equation that there are several top notch not for profit organizations that would be excellent partners for George Halel and Sam Bellama to fill these units.

While George and Sam have balked at the suggestion of apartments, they also call the Glebe a good community. It’s a good community that needs new low rent units that can help others that need a good community. I think that the idea of adding more to the a good community is something that Messer’s Bellama and Halel need to seriously consider. Working with Capital Ward Councillor David Chernushenko may result with a quick approval of plans through the planning process and construction so that the businesses can be back home, but also so others might have a new one.

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I invite you to share your ideas by commenting to this post or any post on my blog. You can also email me directly at robdekkeroc@gmail.com.

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