In 2021, the Canadian Centre for Economic Analysis presented to Regional Council that resolving Niagara’s affordable housing crisis would cost $60 billion. For contrast, the Region’s overall operational budget is approximately $1.1 billion.
Whilst it’s imperative that we continue to find ways to increase our stock of affordable housing in Niagara – and this past term of Council did make some headway – we cannot solve this problem alone.
KPMG found that Niagara Region contributes more local dollars to housing and homelessness than any other region in Ontario, which is – in part – due to inconsistencies in funding from the province, and also a demonstration of how serious we are about resolving this issue to the best of our ability.
This term alone, Council invested just shy of $20 million in affordable housing projects. When combined with contributions from provincial and federal governments, that $20 million has attracted more than $49 million in investment into affordable housing for Niagara.
The feds and the province need to provide us with more assistance in terms of funding and policy direction/changes, and we need to continue to invest what we can and also ensure that policy permits what needs to be done. For instance, I don’t know why we still aren’t incentivizing owners of strip malls to build even one level of affordable housing on top of their plazas. In addition to increasing housing stock throughout Niagara, it also makes for safer communities, as – generally speaking – businesses are using the lower spaces during the day and residents are using the upper spaces in the evening.
If I am re-elected to Regional Council, I will continue to advocate – on Council and especially to the provincial and federal governments – for more investment in affordable housing.