Housing: A National Crisis with Local Stakes

It is time for the federal government to lead in solving the national housing crisis by delivering on the promise of a National Housing Strategy.

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The facade of a Toronto Community Housing building has a series of concrete patches to hold the bricks in place. The TCHC budget is in trouble for 2017. The Firgrove community housing complex in the Jane/Finch area has many needed repairs that have been put on hold due to budget uncertainty. Twenty-two townhouse units have been boarded up, some for more than a dozen years.  (RICHARD LAUTENS / TORONTO STAR) 

What difference would an effective, long-term, funded National Housing Strategy make in Toronto? In 10 years I can imagine a very different city. One where homeless shelters are being closed rather than opening, where health-care costs are dropping because people are living in affordable, quality housing, and where a young family can afford to buy their first home rather than live in a cramped apartment.

It is time for the federal government to lead in solving the national housing crisis by delivering on the promise of a National Housing Strategy and today we will present our city’s perspective on that plan at the Toronto Housing Summit.

There, our mayor and representatives from cities across Canada will present the federal housing minister with seven principles to address our country’s current housing crisis.

And I will host a consultation with more than 200 representatives of the non-profit, co-operative and private sectors alongside tenants and housing experts to discuss specific ideas and innovations that could help transform housing policy in Toronto with federal partnership.

At City Hall we know these issues all too well and are always looking for ways to solve them.

We know the strains that the lack of suitable housing have on people who live in poverty and homelessness.

We know the critical roles that social and affordable housing play in creating a more inclusive and equitable city.

We know Toronto Community Housing has vacant homes because we don’t have the funding to repair them.

We also know that the promised National Housing Strategy is a critical part of solving the housing affordability issues in Toronto and across Canada.

The 2016 federal budget was a good first step in providing $2.3 billion over two years for housing-related investments along with a commitment to provide financing for new affordable housing.

But for the people of Toronto, it’s simply not enough.

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