Category Archives: Affordable Houisng

300

I have reached the milestone of writing my 300th post for this project called #RedheartBlueSign. I began this October 2011 following Ontario General election that year and it has allowed me to comment on politics, music, books and what was happening around me.  The name comes from a profile on my campaign written that election, https://emilydickinsoncu.wordpress.com/politics/red-heart-blue-sign/.

Image from Three Angry Nerds Podcast

There have been posts that have resonated with you the readers of RHBS and others not so much.  Some posts that I have been very proud of did not get many reads, and others have led to other opportunities.  

The post “Y2KXX a new normal’ was written about a recent vacation that took place just as COVID-19 shutdown Canada.  It described a wedding we attended in BC and how the pandemic was going make all of us adjust to a different reality.  COVID continues to do that 5 months later.  That post led to being asked to expand the post to be included in a book being compiled of stories of kindness and hope in a pandemic.  Honestly, it was a huge moment for me, I will forever be thankful to Heather Dawn and Wintertickle Press for the opportunity.  It has opened the door to doing more long-form writing of longer than a 700 words blog post.  The book “Not Cancelled: Canadian kindness in the face of Covid-19” not only includes my expanded reflection, and 48 other stories that show the kindness from across Canada. 

I took the blog on the road last fall to Barrie Ontario and wrote a series on the election that was not political (well maybe a little) and gave a glimpse into campaign life.  The nine posts during written between August and October and through those posts shared my campaign experience.  If I do it again, and I know there will be more campaigns, I’ll bring more of campaign life to #RHBS. 

There have been many books read and reviewed here. I have purposely read books I would never pick up for recreational reading; these books were all about learning from others.  Books by Naomi Klein and David Moscrop confirmed what I thought about some left leaning writers, especially Moscrop whose ‘Too Dumb for Democracy” is one on the worst and most left partisan books I have ever read.  Happily, that same post in March of 2020 was mostly about the best book I’ve read in a while; Beyond the Trees by Adam Shoalts and a completely partisan book in the favour of our nature and the beautiful and unforgiving terrain of Northern Canada. 

One book review that continues to get views is from Ottawa’s Brian McGarry, posted May 2012. The book was his life and the life with the McGarry Funeral Home, which has, as the book title suggests “From Paupers to Prime Ministers: A Life in Death.” It is a fascinating look at his life and service to his community.

Some of the older posts are also good reads; there is December 2011’s “Collective Benefits of Ending Homelessness”, sadly we still haven’t solved that.  My post on Canadian music “CANCON: The Making of MAPL Music” from May 2017 still gets attention.

Politics remains a topic of interest to write about, and thankfully still being read.  Focusing on Ottawa I’ve written on a few municipal cycles that receive a good response.  Another municipal election is here in a short two years, next month.  With a Ottawa ward boundary review now upon us the 2022 election presents some unique situations and decisions by our local elected officials.

I have enjoyed sharing my music with you.  I’ve reviewed new music by many and looked back at music and the part it plays in our lives as I did in the September 2017 post “No Music No Life” written after seeing a movie on Tower Records.  I’ve also written about music in my family with the post “Ode to my Father” September 2016 and the influence of having music in my home from a very early age.  The last two weeks I’ve shared a playlist with 60 years of music, I now have the playlist of  those songs on my Spotify profile https://open.spotify.com/user/dekker.ra?si=eNdAD9eYTrmJA1DUheSdGA,  take a listen and let me know what you think.

As I wrap up post 300, number 301 is already swirling around in my mind; thanks to all the readers, especially those that follow #RedHeartBlueSign, your ‘likes’ and comments are all appreciated.

Thank you for spending a few minutes of your day reading this, please leave a comment and if you like what you’ve read please click the follow button.

Cheers,

Rob

Thank you for reading this post; to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress.  I can be found on Twitter @robertdekker & @RedHrtBlueSign and on Facebook athttps://www.facebook.com/rob.dekker.54.  If you prefer email, please contact me at rdmedia@bell.net

The budget boogie

20200224_153140.jpgTrue love letters don’t come until after Valentines Day.  After February 14th letters espousing what we love are sent to the government, Members of Parliaments across Canada and to the members that sit in Ottawa. The letters are flowing because it’s “budget time”, the time where the hands come out hoping that the government puts a little bit of cash into them.

The government puts a great deal of effort into each budget, they have to fend off all the requests and asks that come their way.  From more funding for medical research, to affordable housing, to education spending, infrastructure investments and spending that connects generations and communities across provincial and federal boundaries someone is asking the government for help.

Mona fortier

Hon. Mona Fortier, Minister of Middle Class Prosperity

Governments seek to establish a theme for how the money will be spent. Take as examples, the themes of the four budgets the federal Liberals tabled since 2016.  Their first budget was titled “Growing the middle class”, in 2017 the Liberals went with “Building a strong middle class”, 2018’s budget was given a hyphenated name, Equality growth – A strong middle class and last year’s budget was titled “Investing in the middle class”.  Any guesses how the government will proceed for the 2020 budget?  I propose the budget be called, Still working towards a strong middle class because we haven’t been able to do after 4 budgets”.

Of course, I jest, but just how far can a government take the middle class?  May be the Liberals will move the middle class ‘forward’, borrowing from their election theme.

I would like you to consider another aspect of building the budget.  As I mentioned earlier there are probable hundreds, if not thousands of requests for more money being handed out and additional spending being approved by the Finance Minister.  The requests come from budget consultation meetings, emails, letters and phone calls. The current government has increased government spending and deficits in each budget they’ve tabled.  I ask though, at what point does spending decrease?  Should it decrease?  How does it decrease.  While there is likely some debate on where spending goes, it seems that very little consideration where spending should stop going.

Budget requests vary from climate action to senior’s care, international development, universal childcare, universal pharmacare and universal dental care, language rights and among many others items and increase government funding for research funding for almost every disease Canadians suffer from.

Provinces also get into the act, asking for more in provincial transfers from Ottawa for their programs and not wanting to be left out are municipalities asking both federal and provincial governments for money to fund their programs and services.

The budget boogie is a round the clock dance competition.  It’s non-stop and it is not for the faint of heart.  The boogie will cause stress of the highest degree as governments are asked for “more, more, more”.   I wonder what happens to the dance when “money’s too tight to mention”.

Thank you for reading this post; to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress.  I can be found on Twitter @robertdekker & @rdmediaottawa and on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97.  If you prefer email, please contact me at rdmedia@bell.net

Crisis? Yes and an Emergency!

Crisis? Yes and an Emergency

It’s amazing how the simplest of ideas gets complicated – but trust a politician to do just that.

The end of January, Ottawa City Council unanimously voted to declare an affordable housing and homelessness emergency or was that a crisis or maybe it was both. The motion, after the bickering stopped to officially declare “an affordable housing and homelessness crisis and emergency” was moved by Councillor Catherine McKenney.  The vote was, as I mentioned, was unanimous 20-0, three Councilors were not present for the vote.

The question remains though, what steps can the city take to address crisis and avoid just giving lip service to the motion.  Here are 3 steps the city can take to address the Housing and Homelessness Emergency.

McKenney

Somerset Ward Councillor Catherine McKenney

Assist non-profit housing providers to expand their services. This could come in the form of no/low interest loans to bring new units online. I have previously advocated that housing providers are part of the cycle of housing. It takes time and adjustment to go from no housing to independent living, this is where housing providers come in. New beds and rooms for those living on the street is a steppingstone to living on their own. Housing providers give key life skill training and assistance, without this you set up individuals for failure when they’re on their own.  After weeks, months and years of living on the street and in shelters a period of transition is essential and the assistance that staff and support workers provide set everyone who has lived on the street up for success and not a setback.  The no/low interest loans will provide growth in this sector that is needed.

With the housing waitlist now at 12,000 households, clearly the construction of new affordable housing can be the primary action to make a dent in the list.  To be honest, the list is not complete, there are individuals that are NOT on the list because they know they will never get a a place to live – and that is the real crisis.  The emergency is getting them on the list and into a home. Both Liberal and Conservative federal governments have tried to establish programs to help with the housing issue.

The Conservatives had Housing First and the Liberals released the National Housing Strategy, but with both these plans it takes money.  With the demand for funding and money from the federal government being pulled from so many directions what programs will have to suffer for Ottawa and other cities to get the money to build new affordable housing?  These solutions will half to come from within Ottawa’s council chambers.  But that seems unlikely because of what I believe is the third thing that has to happen.

The Mayor needs to take up the challenge, and I mean take this challenge serious.

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Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson

The Mayor has been coasting for years in the City’s top position. The Emergency must be his call to action to step out of his zone and feel uncomfortable about the housing emergency. When we are challenged, we can accomplish great things, but we need to embrace the feeling of being outside our comfort zone. By doing this we learn how to expand and grow a new larger zone – we will have succeeded where we could not have before. But the Mayor needs to create that comfortless environment. In this case he needs to be challenged by an outside force.

Capital Ward Councillor Shawn Menard this week suggested there was a “Mayor’s Club” and that the Mayor’s inner cabinet is full of allies.  If there was an issue that the Mayor could be challenged from the inside the Housing Emergency is it.  Somerset Ward Councillor Catherine McKenney has the lead on the Housing file for the City of Ottawa, however she is on the outside of the City all powerful FEDCO committee.  FEDCO could use some Urban influence, that can be achieved by appointing an Urban Councillor to the Finance and Economic Development Committee (FEDCO).

FEDCO currently has representation from Rural, Suburban, East, West and the South Ottawa regions. What’s missing? The downtown and centre of the City has no seat on the committee that makes key municipal decisions. No Central/Urban representation? How does a committee as powerful as FEDCO not have representation from every region of the city?

I had a brief run in the 2010 Ottawa elections under the banner of  “Somerset matters”, and it partially because of that that #RedHeartBlueSign was borne. The banner highlighted Somerset Ward, but I also wanted to show that Somerset ward matters and should not be ignored. Sadly it seems nothing has changed since I saw this gap at City Hall in 2010.

Without the Mayor having someone pushback on a key matter such as homelessness and housing,  Ottawa and the Mayor cannot move ahead on the emergency until there is someone on the inside pushing boundaries on this issue.

Thank you for reading this post; to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress.  I can be found on Twitter @robertdekker & @rdmediaottawa and on Facebook athttp://tiny.cc/n5l97.  If you prefer email, please contact me at rdmedia@bell.net

 

Ottawa Election Primer: The New Council

Ottawa FlagThe new Ottawa City Council will be sworn in December 1st.   The 23 councillors that will sit around the table made promises, set priorities and declared a platform. After the counting was done I looked at the winning candidates websites and noted each of their top action items for their wards (and the city).

I was unable to get priorities from two councillors as their campaign websites were taken down.  One other councillor also had a campaign website did not promise anything – except more of the same.  No word on taxes, infrastructure transit – nothing – it was really a message of “you liked me for four years, vote for me for more”.  What follows are the key planks from 20 City Councillors.  These priorities will likely define how the next four years will go.  I purposely have left out any promises that were made by Mayor Watson.

To look at how it breaks down I tallied issues for Rural (3 Councillors), Urban (4 Councillors) and Suburban Wards (16 Councillors).  Of the 3 Rural Councillors I found priorities for 2/3 winning candidates and of the 16 Suburban Councillors 2 had taken campaign websites down.  Only 14 wards are represented in the suburb issues.

What I discovered is that Transit/LRT was the biggest election issue, more importantly extending LRT and avoiding the pitfalls that were/are part of LRT phase one.. From there the rest of the issues are among an urban/rural/suburban divide.   Number two in top issues was Roads and Transportation, meaning maintaining current road and building new roads.  Rural and Suburban Councillors will be advocating this issue over the next four years. – it was not mentioned at all by members of the urban caucus.  Third issue is community infrastructure, which includes, parks, greenspace, community buildings and trees.  Support for these issues came from suburban ward candidates.

Surprising to me were the issues coming in after the top 3.  Fourth was taxes/fiscal responsibility, fifth – Policing and Safe communities, sixth – Housing and even though it takes a lot of airtime when a controversial decision is made, development came in seventh.

An issue that was talked about but never campaigned on was election reform and the size of council.  A study on ward boundaries and a reduction or expansion on council  will take place this term.  The report will come before the next election but will its recommendations take effect in 2022?  This council could push the changes (if there are any to the 2024 municipal election.

Here’s a breakdown of how the issues are divided between Urban/Rural and Suburban Councillors ranked top to bottom.

Urban Issues Rural Issues Suburban Issues
Affordable Housing Roads and Infrastructure Community Infrastructure
Development/Planning Economic Development Transit
Transit Planning Taxes
Environment Youth Roads
Seniors Emergency Services Economy/Jobs
City Services Fiscal Responsibility Policing
Businesses Rural Broadband Development
Election Reform Safety on the Roads Safe Streets
Fiscal Responsibility Seniors Seniors
Pedestrians Youth
Poverty Support Services
Safe City Emergency Services
Traffic Housing
Youth Short Term Rental
Term Limits

This analysis is very unscientific, but as you can see no one region was short on issues that were talked about at the doors, but look at the differences and diversity of issues across the three regions.  Surprisingly, Transit does not come up as a priority from our rural councillors.  The difference in priorities demonstrates the difficulty that will pop up when councillors are looking for support for budget items, new infrastructure and projects that are important to the different wards.  I expect that their will be more discussion about issue across the urban/rural/suburban divide, especially with new councillors coming into key ward that represent growth in Ottawa. There’s going to be strength coming from suburban councillors with 16 around the table. The urban caucus with 4 councillors and the 3 rural caucuses will have their work cut out for them in getting projects that affect their constituents approved.

The Mayor will have to balance what is regionally needed to make everyone happy, especially when the budget is drafted.  He will need to start with the naming of committee chairs, there will be some juggling here.  I am sure the campaigning for these positions has already started.

The Mayor campaigned that he could go as high as a 3% tax increase in the budget. When the Mayor presents the budget (written of course with consultation of the councillors) it will leave some happier than others and will force councillors to start looking for trade-offs on individual items.

Thank you for reading #RedHeartBlueSign, to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress. I can be found Twitter @robertdekker, @rdmediaottawaand on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97.  If you prefer email, please contact me at rdmedia@bell.net

The Battle of Vanier: Land use vs. Building Use

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Out of the most divisive issues comes unity.

Last week saw an unprecedented Planning Committee meeting, it lasted three days and on the third day the meeting it went late into the evening. At stake was either safe shelter for 350 or the future of Vanier and its financial growth. The heart of the matter revolved around the Salvation Army relocating to Montreal Rd in Vanier from their George Street location in the Byward Market.

In what has become a war of words over the future of Vanier, the Battle of Vanier is clearly between two ideals; land use versus building use. City staff is on the land use side while Rideau Vanier Mathieu Fleury is arguing the building use will have severe impacts on Vanier.

In the middle of summer the Salvation Army filed a proposal to build a new large 350 bed facility that would locate all its services in one location (the current Concord Hotel) on Montreal Rd, which is classified a “mainstreet” by the city’s official plan. Ottawa now prohibits shelters on its mainstreets. Mainstreets by definition are meant for commerce and community gathering and keeping people moving. For the Salvation Army, the official plan will need to be amended.

It gets confusing and bewildering because City staff support a proposal that clearly goes against the Official City Plan, which City Staff had a huge hand in writing. With its support, planning staff is saying that the needed amendment ‘won’t be a problem at all’.

If you have trouble understanding how the mainstreet argument works consider other Mainstreet and “Main” street locations across Ottawa as examples. How about a large shelter on Strandherd Drive in Barrhaven, or on Meadowlands Drive in Keith Egli’s ward. Try selling a huge 300-bed shelter to Stittsville residents on Hazeldean Drive and I doubt anyone would allow a shelter beside a shiny condo on Richmond Road or even putting a shelter at the corner of Bank and Somerset downtown instead of rebuilding Somerset House.

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Photos courtesy of Danno Saunt (Sideman Ottawa)

There was another aspect in the Battle of Vanier, one which could have been avoided – The Mayor. The ink on the proposal was barely dry when Mayor Jim Watson came out in support of the Salvation Army’s plans. He voiced his support before the proposal was looked at by staff, was debated at Planning Committee, before residents could have a say and before the full Council vote. The Mayor holds great sway in council. He’ll try to tell he is one of 24 votes, honestly though, his “yeah or nay” will sway about a quarter of council seats. Coming out early on this forced Councillor Fleury to publically fight against the Mayor and most of council.

Whether the Mayor intentionally or accidently played his cards, he should have stayed quiet. I expect that he will lose votes in the fall, as SOS Vanier will make sure Rideau Vanier voters don’t forget who supported them and that the Mayor did not. By stating his support early in the process, the Mayor muted Councillor Fleury and virtually snubbed the 100+ residents and businesses that went to committee and stated their reasons for objecting to the proposal.

Clearly the Salvation Army did not expect such uproar. They almost admitted it, but could not find the right words when the Salvation Army spokesperson appeared on CBC Radio Ottawa Morning after the Council vote of 23-7 (Rick Chiarelli claimed a conflict). They admitted they had a lot of fence mending to do, but could not commit to saying they did not know the community well enough to foresee the outrage against the plans.

It was clear from the moment that SOS Vanier was formed by Vanier business owner Drew Dobson that who ever came up short in the vote at council would be appealing to the Ontario Municipal Board. Depending on the OMB outcome there could a lawsuit, which all means that it could be years before the wrecking ball comes down on the Concord Motel, which sits on the proposed Salvation Army building.

Speaking of the Concord Motel, there is a complication. The City of Ottawa is very tight for space for families that need emergency shelter, for days weeks or months. Guess where some families are put up, paid for by the City of Ottawa? The Concord Motel. Where will the City find the rooms lost with the demo of the Concord for the families that need the space? Good Question. The City better home the new Federal National Housing Plan works, and fast!

There is some good that comes out of the Battle of Vanier. The community has come together, again. The last time that happened was with the proposed closure of the Montfort Hospital. The Ontario government stood down from that because the community banded together. The Salvation Army shelter plan was the spark that brought Vanier back to its feet; I hope they don’t underestimate the community as Mike Harris did. SOS Vanier is here for a while and plan on keeping this issue alive.

Secondly, Councillor Fleury stood on his head defended his residents; I have not seen a councillor do that in some time. It was an “All-Star Performance” in the defense of Vanier and preserving Montreal Road. At worst he has almost secured a re-election with his efforts to protect his community with something he saw as being a bad fit.

The leaders of SOS Vanier have publically declared they will appeal the decision at the OMB, the Battle was won – the war wages on.

Thank you for reading this post; to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress. I can be found Twitter @robertdekker, @rdmediaottawa and on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97. I can be reached at rdmedia@bell.net

King for a Day?

RHBS 182The Ontario government is conducting a Basic Income Pilot project in three locations; Thunder Bay, Lindsay and Hamilton. The pilot provides a basic income of $17,000 to approx. 34,000 people that currently receive money from the Ontario Works (OW) and Ontario Disability Support Programs (ODSP). The $17,000 is a huge increase to those now receiving $13,000 or less from the government, but it is a paltry amount for most Ontarians.  You have to consider for whom a basic income is directed at and you’ll understand the need for more for this segment of Ontario’s population.

Using the example of a single male on ODSP and it’s shocking what some people in Ontario are forced to live on. After rent is automatically deducted from the ODSP, it leaves less than $500 for hydro, phone/internet, food, transit fees and other items for the rest of the month. Could you pay hydro, and other bills with only $500 a month and eat well? It was not always like this, our social assistance system was friendlier and more generous. Multiple governments have reduced programs and allowances available and not increased payments to meet increased costs for expenses. At one point ODSP included a number of allowances including moving allowances but with those gone the cost of a move eats further into the leftovers and leaves no chance to for people to improve their living conditions.

There are approximately 900,000 Ontarians receiving assistance through ODSP and other Social Assistance Programs representing just 6.5% of Ontario’s population. In the recent Ontario budget the Wynne Government allocated money to allow increase limits for those on ODSP etc. to earn more with less being clawed back. The governments’ focus on support payments is on families and children that because of a job loss saw these families fall well below the poverty line and reliant on the government. For many this doesn’t provide any comfort, they don’t have the assets to claim against assistance and have little opportunity to make more money, so they fall further behind month by month. For many they will rely on food banks and the generosity of friends providing $20, $40 or more when needed. Many don’t ask because they don’t want to be a burden, so they suffer invisibly. It’s sad to see people we know go moneyless up to half way through a month, because what’s left after rent doesn’t see them through to the first week of the month.

What makes me angry is while the Ontario government seems to be focused on families/children on ODSP and OW their attention does not reach the singles who struggle just as much each month. Long-time progressives in the Wynne government like former Ottawa Vanier MPP Madeline Meillieur and current Ottawa Centre MPP Yasir Naqvi seem to have blinders when assisting those without dependents. Baby steps by the government may help families, the singles, as they get older, fall further and further behind and will become a larger burden on the government because they have no pension; savings support avenues available to them.

General consensus with budgeting states that 30% to 35% of a person’s annual income should go to housing costs, and that includes hydro. Even if we up the 35% to 50% a single person on ODSP with annual rent of $9000, the annual income that should be received is $18,000. In reality, rent accounts for 68% of ODSP for the single person and if you add average hydro of $70/month that increases to a whopping 75% of annual income going to housing and hydro. Someone please tell me how anyone lives on 25% of an annual income? At this point, I hope that the Ontario PC’s or Ontario NDP understand the plight of the few in Ontario (I’ve given up hope Wynne and Ontario Liberals will ever understand this).

A solution is to change how ODSP is fixed to recipients. Rather than have a fixed amount of money received each month, the amount paid should be a fixed percentage of how much housing costs should be. If the government were to fix housing costs to 40% of the annual income,  the ODSP recipient would see an increase of their payments to $17,100. The result? While rent increases happen annually, so too will ODSP to meet the most important monthly cost that is taken out of the month government cheque. Without this, the motivation to move to a better location is destroyed as increased rent results in decreased spending for all other living expenses.

I realize that this gets very close to the government sponsored basic monthly income pilot – what separates it from that program though is the ability to change housing due to any number of reasons; accessibility, declining living conditions, and safety. Rent increases will not affect what might be left after rent is paid. The basic income does not do this. I propose to look after the number one need of those of assistance, housing, and the remainder will be less stressful on the first of each month, or as a friend calls it “King for a Day”.

Thank you for reading this post; to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress. You can also see me on www.redheartbluelife.wordpress.com where I post about the little things in life I see and do.

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

 

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.

Thank you for reading this post; to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress. You can also see me on www.redheartbluelife.wordpress.com where I am celebrating #Canada150 with a daily post of an event celebrating our sesquicentennial in Canada.

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

the-aftermath-of-a-structure-fire-at-the-beavers-mug-cafe-an

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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