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By: Crystal Lobo

Ted McMeekin, Ontario’s Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing and MPP for Ancaster- Dundas-Flamborough-Westdale, announced an updated Affordable Housing Strategy on March 14. This multi-faceted strategy involves an investment of $178 million across Ontario over the span of three years. It declared the construction of up to 1,500 new affordable housing units. Additionally, the announcement mentioned funding for the Community Homelessness Prevention Initiative. Furthermore, building frameworks for portable housing benefit and Supportive Housing Policy were also mentioned.

This funding from the provincial government is a positive step towards helping homeless Hamiltonians according to Mayor Fred Eisenberger.

“There are a lot of positives here that talk about many of the things that municipalities have been asking for, which is long-term care, a focus on poverty and homelessness, as well as providing benefits to residents that are having problems in terms of affordability,” said Eisenberger.

The mayor cites housing and homelessness as a significant issue in the community of Hamilton. Eisenberger acknowledges that homelessness impedes many Hamiltonians from leading stable lives and successfully providing for their families. He states that the effort in combatting this issue must be collective.

“This is a community-wide issue and resolving this issue I think is a collective responsibility for all of us. To do that we would be making some significant investments in our human capital.”

Currently, there are 6,000 people on the wait list for affordable housing in the city. Each affordable housing unit costs $200,000 to build from scratch. As such, Hamilton requires more resources than those provided by this announcement from the provincial government.

“This is a community-wide issue and resolving this issue I think is a collective responsibility for all of us.”

“The amount of money they set aside here on the provincial level just kind of scratches the surface in terms of the greater need,” said Eisenberger.

Moreover, the announcement declared that developing Indigenous housing strategies in conjunction with Indigenous communities would be a priority.

“I think that’s going to be a provincially-led initiative that we’re certainly going to be partnering on,” said Eisenberger. He added that along with Indigenous communities, immigrants and Syrians who are new to the city will be included in the affordable housing strategy in Hamilton.

McMeekin hopes to pass the legislation for inclusionary zoning before June 9, when the provincial legislature closes for the summer. This mandate would require new construction projects to include affordable housing for people with low or moderate earnings. Eisenberger believes it is a positive step for the province and this city. However, he acknowledges that implementing inclusionary zoning will not be a simple task.

“Inclusionary zoning really has to be supported by and mandated by the city and the developing community. There’s going to be a need to have some pretty intense focused discussions about how we actually achieve that so that we get the benefit of additional housing units,” said Eisenberger.

Photo Credit: Construction Specifications Canada

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