Ontario’s Long-Term Affordable Housing Strategy – Not Worth the Wait

The most heartbreaking part of an Eviction Prevention worker’s job is referring a client to a homeless shelter.  It is very sobering to hear, on the other end of the line, the moment a client realizes she cannot afford to stay in her home.  The mixture of fear, shame and anxiety is quite palpable.

And it seems that there will be more and more heartbreaking phone calls to come.  This week, the Ontario Liberals revealed their oft-delayed, long-term affordable housing strategy and let’s just say it doesn’t seem to be worth the wait. In particular, it fails to adopt a human rights framework and largely ignores the particular housing needs of people with disabilities, women and other equality-seeking groups.  And despite a record number of Ontario households on the waiting list for social housing, Housing Minister Rick Bartolucci announced there will be no new funding for affordable housing.  According to the Wellesley Institute, the success of any long-term affordable housing plan requires some semblance of targets and timelines.  But the province only offers vague promises like “engaging” the feds for more money.  This sounds remarkably underwhelming.

To be fair, there are some encouraging bits in the announcement – simplification of the rent-geared-to-income process, for one – but overall, a plan that does not set any goals is not really a plan at all.