Federal NDP proposes increased spending for subsidized public housing


PHOTO BY JOHN JANTAK

Federal NDP MP for Pierrefonds-Dollard Lysane Blanchette-Lamothe (left) and NDP leader

Thomas Mulcair discuss subsidized public housing during a press conference at the Cloverdale housing cooperative in Pierrefonds-Roxboro on June 26.

The plight of some low-income residents living in the Cloverdale and Terrasse Soleil subsidized housing cooperatives in Pierrefonds-Roxboro was brought to the forefront during a visit on June 26 by Thomas Mulcair, Leader of the federal New Democratic Party (NDP) and Official Opposition Leader in the House of Commons. Mulcair used the visit and subsequent press conference to present and promote the NDP’s affordable housing plan and promised to renew operating agreements and maintain the federal cooperative housing subsidy program for low-income wage earners throughout Canada which is set to expire in the next few years.

Under the NDP proposal, federal investment will reach more than $2 billion by 2020 to maintain current funding for housing cooperatives and social housing. “Housing cooperatives play an important social and economic role in Canada,” said Mulcair.

“Their strength lies in their diversity and resourcefulness. An NDP government will be a real partner by making stable, long term investments in social housing.” Mulcair’s plan includes making housing more affordable throughout Canada by providing incentives for the construction of 10,000 new affordable market rental housing units in fiscal year 2016-17. The NDP would also maintain and steadily reinvest in federal housing programs that would result in an increase in spending from $440 million during fiscal year 2016-17 to $650 million by fiscal year 2019-20.

Lysane Blanchette-Lamothe, the NDP Member of Parliament for Pierrefonds- Dollard said she was proud that Mulcair decided to make the announcement during his visit to the West Island housing cooperatives. “He had an important announcement to make which he could have done anywhere in Canada, but he decided to it at Cloverdale in front of the residents,” Blanchette-Lamothe told Your Local Journal.

Some Cloverdale residents, especially those living on fixed incomes and with disability and mobility issues, could find themselves in a precarious financial situation when the federal government imposes cuts to grants and subsidies that will take effect at the co-op this fall. The cuts won’t affect everyone who lives in Cloverdale, but a significant percentage of tenants will be affected, said Blanchette-Lamothe.

“The federal government announced they won’t renew these financial commitments and we want to make sure that those tenants won’t have to pay more than 55 per cent of their income in rent,” she said. The cuts will result in significant rent increases for some tenants, said Blanchette-Lamothe.

“Some residents told us they won’t be able to pay their rent. Other people said they’ll be able to pay the increase but won’t be able to eat properly or have enough money to take public transportation,” she said. Blanchette-Lamothe added that the cuts will have a negative impact on all aspects of society across the country.

“With so much affordable housing being cut, where will these people go? If they can’t afford to pay their rent in a public housing cooperative, they won’t be able to pay rent anywhere else. This means the waiting list for affordable housing units will continue to grow.”

Some Cloverdale residents voiced their concerns to Mulcair during the press conference about the difficulties they’ll have to face when the rental subsidies end. In one poignant moment, resident Stéphane Houde received an inspirational hug and words of support from Mulcair after he told NDP leader about the situation he will have to endure if the federal government proceeds as planned to impose the cuts this fall.

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