Ontario government making housing panel dominated by members of its own party

The panel that was appointed by Ontario’s Liberal government to look at how it can create thousands of housing units for low-income households is dominated by members of its own party. The 18-member, seven-member…

Ontario government making housing panel dominated by members of its own party

The panel that was appointed by Ontario’s Liberal government to look at how it can create thousands of housing units for low-income households is dominated by members of its own party.

The 18-member, seven-member advisory panel includes the minister responsible for housing, a cabinet minister and two of the top Liberals in the province.

Meet the Ford government’s housing panel Read more

They are all familiar faces to Ford, who appointed all four to cabinet after taking power in June. Ford clearly is expecting them to come up with ideas that he can publicly announce, use to give his government a boost and then turn around and say “See, it worked”, in the weeks and months leading up to the 2019 election.

Ford is leaning on the panel to try to fulfil his campaign promise to create at least 100,000 affordable housing units in the next three years.

The first step was a cabinet decision in December to declare low-income households eligible for a new government-funded housing subsidy, expanding the MATCH program introduced by the previous government in March 2017.

The panel will also examine whether to implement what’s known as a “shared-equity model”, which would include providing low-income households with a portion of the equity in newly built homes, and no-cost loans to homeowners to help them cover home renovations.

Municipalities also will be asked to suggest what they think government could do to spur more development of so-called “affordable” housing units, which typically means smaller units priced below the $1m mark.

The committee has a single non-Liberal member, Christina McGown, who is an engineer and urban planner.

Ford has made tackling the province’s affordable housing crisis a central part of his push to reduce the income gap and improve standards of living in the face of an economic slowdown.

Ford has boosted spending on social housing and announced that Ontario will offer no-interest loans to developers who have paid developer contributions to revitalize neighbourhoods. He also has made his homeless policy a key part of his government’s agenda.

Ontario ministers banned from making housing announcements during #FairHousingInitiative Read more

According to the Ontario Low Income Housing Coalition, one in every 79 households has a monthly rent that is two and a half times the average income of the region’s residents.

Ford’s office did not respond to a request for comment, but in November he said the panel would be free to comment on how it has received feedback from individuals and groups, including the public.

“It is really the independence of the process that makes it work,” he said.

The panel will make recommendations to the government in March or April. In the meantime, the public will have a chance to comment on the panel’s work on the Ontario government’s website.

Leave a Comment