Several of the country’s big city mayors, including London Mayor Matt Brown, met Friday morning at the Toronto Housing Summit to pressure the province and Ottawa to commit more funding for affordable housing.
More than 200 people attended the national summit, hosted by Toronto Mayor John Tory and Toronto City Councillor Ana Bailão, the city’s Affordable Housing Committee chair, to find ways to tackle the country’s housing problem and to discuss what cities need from the National Housing Strategy.
During a panel discussion at the summit, Brown called for action on the issue, and said he looked forward to the Trudeau government following through on its funding commitment, according to a media release.
“We know that housing is the key to raising people out of poverty. This is the opportunity of a generation. It’s clear to me that all levels of government are willing to work together to create a National Housing Strategy,” said Brown in a statement.
Following the summit, the Ministry of Housing announced that Investments in Affordable Housing (IAH) funding levels from the federal, provincial, and territorial governments would be doubled to more than $1 billion over two years, starting 2016-17 and 2017-18.
Through the IAH, the Ministry continued, Ottawa would also provide the following over two years:
- $200 million toward building, repairing, and adaptation of affordable housing for seniors;
- Nearly $90 million for the construction of shelters and transition houses for victims of family violence;
- Nearly $178 million addressing housing needs of North and Inuit communities;
- $490 million for the renovation of existing social housing units across the country.
Other mayors in attendance at the Summit included Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson, Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson, Kitchener Mayor Berry Vrbanovic, Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie, and Hamilton Mayor Fred Eisenberger. Representatives from Ottawa and Montreal were also on hand.
The city says while wait times in London for affordable housing average 1.2 years, below the provincial average of nearly four years, about 2,550 households are on the social housing waitlist. About 62,000 Londoners are said to be living in poverty.
(With files from Veronica Tang of Global News)