Building resilient neighbourhoods means affordable housing for all (Lowertown Echo, April-May 2021)

As a City, we need a culture change.  

No one knows better than our community.  The City of Ottawa faces big City challenges when it comes to housing, mental health and addictions. Lowertown has lived these evolving challenges directly. 

We need to stop managing crises and get ahead in preventing homelessness. 

13 000 – the number of people on Ottawa’s waiting list for affordable housing. And 2,000 – that is the number of those residents who are without a home. Who are using Emergency Shelters nightly in our City. The remaining residents on the list, require affordability to maintain their current homes.  

On March 10th, City Council rubber stamped a Work Plan and Long Range Financial Plan that prioritized increased emergency shelter spending, more money spent on “transitional housing” and not enough money dedicated to capital investments for new affordable housing.  

16 votes in favour and 7 votes against – including my voice in opposition.  

What seems lost in this plan is the people. Public investments need to be hyper focused on securing and creating affordable and adequate housing. 

Investing $14.6M per year in new affordable housing units falls short.  We must be bold in our investment plans.   

Last year the City spent close to $38 million on emergency shelters and motels. It’s time to match this spending in yearly capital investments for new units. By investing in capital projects, we pay off operational pressures. 

Lowertown is one of the most desirable neighbourhoods in our City.  Mixed-use, mixed-income, walkable amenities – a community where you can truly work, live and play.  

We are a welcoming area and want to support our community’s most vulnerable. With our experience and knowledge, we are in a unique position to speak up and support a shift in approach and in public investments. 

As a neighbourhood faced with immense pressures due to a concentration of services, the City needs to urgently move away from putting more money into an old and broken model. 

Investments in permanent housing must be the focus.  

We are at a point where shelters are no longer used as an emergency. We must eliminate this “transition” and ensure residents have a permanent home – in all neighbourhoods of our City.  

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