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Posted by on Sep 2014 in Advocacy, All Stories, Features, News Updates | 0 comments

Are municipal candidates in your community talking about housing?

Affordable housing in the West Don Lands, Toronto

On Monday October 27, Ontarians will elect approximately 2,800 council members and 700 school trustees across the province. Do your candidates understand the housing needs specific to your community? Municipal elections are an opportunity to get people talking about making their neighbourhoods better, especially when it comes to focusing on low-income and under-housed residents. ONPHA can help you make the most of this opportunity by providing you with tools and advice on how to get these conversations started.

People connected to the non-profit housing sector know that a one-size-fits-all approach does not work in Ontario. Every community has its own unique challenges that must be addressed by the local government. To assist our members and other affordable housing supporters, ONPHA has created community snap-shots for each service manager area that detail the specific needs of communities across Ontario. The detailed brochures, titled ‘An affordable home for everyone,’ are great resources for anyone who is interested in speaking to their candidates about non-profit housing.

Referencing the brochures can help you ask targeted questions and gauge the candidate’s understanding of the local need for affordable housing. For example, while overall wait times in Sudbury- Manitoulin have decreased, the need for seniors housing has increased. Do communities in those areas have enough seniors housing and community supports to meet this challenge? And, since 2012, Peel has allowed applicants from its waiting list to use an RGI subsidy to rent a unit of their choice from a landlord in their community through the RGI Choice-Based Rental Options program. This has resulted in an overall decrease in their waiting list. Will Peel’s municipal hopefuls continue to support this progressive initiative?

There are other questions that you should ask when a candidate comes to your door or you attend a town hall meeting. Here’s a short list of questions you can ask candidates:

  • How will you be a champion for affordable housing in our community?
  • How will you ensure that our community meets the targets set out in our 10-year housing and homelessness plan?
  • What will you do to help families that are experiencing homelessness or are at risk of losing their homes in our community?
  • Everyone needs a safe place to call home. How will you make sure that the rental housing stock in our neighbourhood remains in good repair?
  • Solving housing affordability issues and homelessness in our community requires support from the federal and provincial governments. What will you do to raise this issue with your federal and provincial colleagues?

We need to ensure that our future representatives are aware of their communities’ affordable housing needs. In the last municipal elections, more than 8,000 candidates ran for positions on councils and school boards in Ontario. That is a lot of people willing to hear what you have to say about the things that matter most. This is the time to get our message out to the policy-influencers and an opportunity to help guide the future of non-profit housing in Ontario.

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