NDP housing plan tackles long-ignored housing issues in Northern Ontario

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Ontario Construction News staff writer

Opposition NDP Leader Andrea Horwath says she will tackle housing issues in Northern Ontario that have “been long ignored.”

The NDP  housing plan, Homes You Can Afford would help families buy their first home with 10 per cent of the purchase price from the government, to help with the down payment. The shared equity loan wouldn’t have to be paid back until the home is sold, or the owner moves out.

The plan also includes a path to ending homelessness within 10 years, and assures people who need a supportive living environment have a place to go in the community they love. The NDP will build 69,000 affordable homes, extend the lifespan of 260,000 existing homes, and build 30,000 homes with supports.

Horwath and NDP MPPs Jamie West (Sudbury), Gilles Bisson (Timmins), Guy Bourgouin (Mushkegowuk-James Bay), France Gélinas (Nickle Belt), Sol Mamakwa (Kiiwetinoong) and Judith Monteith-Farrell (Thunder Bay—Atikokan) visited northern Ontario virtually Friday to share what the plan would mean for families.

“It has been getting harder and harder for families in Northern Ontario to find a decent place to live for decades,” said Horwath. “Home prices have gone up and up, and the supply of homes — to rent or to buy — has dwindled, causing prices to skyrocket

The MLS home price index shows the actual price of a single-family home in North Bay has climbed 36.9 per cent in the last five years. In Sudbury, at $339,439, the average price of a home was up 27.3 per cent in September 2020, compared to just a year earlier, according to the Sudbury Real Estate Board.

The NDP plan “will make it easier and inexpensive to convert unused spaces like basements and garages into affordable rentals, while working with local governments to get more homes built, from start homes for growing families to homes with supports.”

“Its more than four walls, people are struggling with complicated issues like addiction and mental heath, if we want to end homelessness we have to have supports to help people sustain housing and address the issues that caused it in the first place,” said Michelle Jordan, executive director, Shelter House Thunder Bay.

“The largest contributing factor to homelessness in Thunder Bay is addiction and substance use. People suffering from addiction deserve housing too.”

Ontario also needs 22,000 additional Indigenous-owned and operated community housing units over the next decade to address critical gaps. Horwath has committed to supporting a For Indigenous, By Indigenous housing strategy, working with Indigenous communities, the federal government and Indigenous-led housing providers to support the creation of an adequate supply of safe, affordable and culturally-appropriate urban and rural housing, with supports where needed.

“The lack of housing should never stop people from living and raising their own families in the north, near the incredible communities where they grew up. I plan to invest in the North to make sure of that.”

Under the NDP’s Homes in Ontario Program (HOP), first-time home buyers with household incomes under $200,000 would be able to access home equity loans of up to 10 per cent to help with their down payment. Home owners would then have the flexibility to buy back the government’s share or repay the loan only if and when they move and sell their home.

  • The NDP will create a revenue-neutral fund to finance repayable loans as a part of the HOP. That fund will be self-sustaining. Gains in the fund over time will be used to maintain the fund.
  • Implementing the entire Homes You Can Afford plan will take a capital investment of $90 million to extend the life of 260,000 affordable homes and an average annual investment of $340 million for 10 years to build 69,000 new affordable homes.
  • The total additional annual projected revenue is $300 million, all from speculation, non-resident vacancy, taxes on pre-construction condo flipping and licensing short-term rentals — not a dime will come from everyday families who rent or buy in Ontario.
  • An NDP government would fund an operating investment of $300 million. That includes $240 million to fund rent subsidies for 311,000 households, $10 million for a co-op seed fund and $50 million to deliver 30,000 supportive housing spaces.

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