Ottawa’s mayor joins Toronto in seeking millions of dollars in higher-level government support for affordable housing projects

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Ottawa City Hall
Photo by Jean-Luc Henry

Ontario Construction News staff writer

Ottawa’s mayor Jim Watson has joined Toronto Mayor Tory in seeking millions of dollars in provincial and federal funds to build additional affordable housing to meet unfilled requirements made even more challenging by COVID-19.

“To seize this moment, governments must act swiftly, decisively, and together,” Watson wrote in a Sept. 18 memo to Ottawa city councillors. “The City of Ottawa urgently needs additional permanent supportive housing and long-term housing assets to assist in the COVID019 response. That urgency is compounded by the approach of winter, flu season and a possible second wave of COVID-19.”

In a letter sent to provincial Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister Steve Clark in late August, Watson asked for $45 million, including $15 million from the provincial government, to build three transitional housing facilities for family and women.

As well, he asked for additional capital repair and construction funds over the next decade.

“We appreciate provincial capital repair funding invested over the last four years,” Watson wrote. “However, additional capital repair funding in excess of $20 million per year is needed to maintain the social housing stock in a good state of repair.

“Further, in order to reduce overall homelessness by 25 per cent and eliminate unsheltered and chronic homelessness, as outlined in the city’s 10-year Housing and Homelessness Plan 2020/2030, we need support in 2021 and ongoing that would include an additional $38 million annually from the province to:

  • Create between 570 to 850 new affordable housing options per year (including new units and housing subsidies) over the next 10 years; and
  • Increase housing services, programs and subsidies.”

Watson’s appeal joins the City of Toronto’s publication of its COVID-19 Housing and Homelessness Recovery Response Plan — an urgent appeal to the federal and provincial governments to create 3,000 permanent, affordable homes, within the next 24 months, for homeless, vulnerable and marginalized residents. These investments will support the council-approved HousingTO 2020-2030 Action Plan aimed at helping more than 340,000 households in Toronto over the next 10 years.

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