Hamilton politicians approve ‘historic' poverty strategy to invest $50 million into affordable housing

News Apr 05, 2017 by Kevin Werner Stoney Creek News

 Hamilton councillors will use one of the largest investments in the city’s history to fight poverty by building new affordable housing units and renovating existing stock.

“It’s a great step forward for everyone that has come to the table today that has said housing is a priority for them,” said Mayor Fred Eisenberger. “To have the focus be singular and solely on housing is a very positive step indeed.”

Almost a year ago, Eisenberger proposed spending $50 million to fight poverty over 10 years, with about $20 million devoted to affordable housing and fixing aging units, and $30 million earmarked for other unspecified programs.

But at the April 5 government issues committee meeting, Eisenberger and Ward 5 Coun. Chad Collins, who called the investment “historic,” introduced a motion that would allocate all of the money for affordable housing.

There will also be about $1 million over ten years provided directly to Hamilton’s Indigenous communities for poverty reduction programs. The suggestion was made by Ward 3 Coun. Matthew Green, who said he couldn’t support the motion unless funding was provided to Indigenous communities.

“Providing housing in this community is a stated mission to achieve,” said Eisenberger. “To achieve that is a significant step forward.”

City staff is expected to outline how best to use the funds in an investment strategy report that will go to councillors this summer.

The decision by councillors is a slight contrast to staff’s suggestions, and Eisenberger’s original idea to use the $50 million in a variety of ways, including education, homelessness prevention, wraparound programs, housing stability and a housing allowance.

It is unknown how many units will be constructed or renovated with the $5 million per year that will be allocated for affordable housing. Under city staff’s proposal, about $10 million would have been spent over two and a half years to build 200 housing units.

Collins, who is also president of CityHousing Hamilton’s board of directors, said the funding is critical to address what has been described as a “housing crisis” in Hamilton.

Nearly 6,000 people are on waiting lists for social housing, an increase from 5,400 in 2011.

“That number will continue to rise,” Collins said. “It is trending in the wrong direction.”

CityHousing Hamilton has capital needs of about $18 million a year, but can only pay for about $8 million in infrastructure repairs.

But Hamilton can’t fix the housing or poverty problems by itself, said Collins.

“We’ve heard some good discussions at the federal and provincial level,” he said. “We have yet to see the money flow (that) we anticipated. We can’t afford to solve this problem on our own. We really need partners.”

Eisenberger agreed, but said federal and provincial officials are watching closely how Hamilton is battling the affordable housing dilemma.

The funding is expected to begin in 2017 and continue to 2027. About $20 million will be found from extending the payback term for existing City of Hamilton loans from the Future Fund from 2031 to 2036. The other $30 million will come from Alectra Utilities’ expected dividends of about $3 million each year.

Council’s approval of the $50 million funding comes on the heels of the Social Planning and Research Council releasing an updated report on the city’s poverty rate that found the issue still persists.

Hamilton has the fourth highest poverty rate in the province at 15 per cent, with a poverty rate for children at 20.5 per cent. Hamilton’s downtown area has the highest poverty rate at 24 per cent, while the mountain is at 14.6 per cent and Stoney Creek is at 9.1 per cent.

Flamborough has the lowest poverty rate at 6 per cent, followed by Glanbrook at 6.6 per cent, Dundas at 7.2 per cent and Ancaster at 7.4 per cent.

“Income remains a fundamental problem,” said Don Jaffray, executive director of the Social Planning and Research Council.

Mountain Coun. Terry Whitehead said Hamilton, over the last 15 years, has invested millions of dollars into fighting poverty, yet the rate remains high.

“We are no better off today than 15 years ago,” he said.

Jaffray and Sara Mayo, a social planner for the Social Planning and Research Council, argued Hamilton has made progress against poverty over the years.

“It’s a complex issue,” said Jaffray. “We have a ways to go.”

Mayo said Hamilton was able to withstand the detrimental impact of the 2008 recession better than other communities. She also said Hamilton’s investments have been more along the lines of pilot projects.

“We need larger scale investments that will make a larger difference,” she said.

About 12 other people from various organizations, including the United Way of Hamilton and Burlington, and the Hamilton Legal Clinic applauded council’s poverty investment plan and urged them to take bold action to fight poverty.

 

Hamilton politicians approve ‘historic' poverty strategy to invest $50 million into affordable housing

News Apr 05, 2017 by Kevin Werner Stoney Creek News

 Hamilton councillors will use one of the largest investments in the city’s history to fight poverty by building new affordable housing units and renovating existing stock.

“It’s a great step forward for everyone that has come to the table today that has said housing is a priority for them,” said Mayor Fred Eisenberger. “To have the focus be singular and solely on housing is a very positive step indeed.”

Almost a year ago, Eisenberger proposed spending $50 million to fight poverty over 10 years, with about $20 million devoted to affordable housing and fixing aging units, and $30 million earmarked for other unspecified programs.

But at the April 5 government issues committee meeting, Eisenberger and Ward 5 Coun. Chad Collins, who called the investment “historic,” introduced a motion that would allocate all of the money for affordable housing.

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There will also be about $1 million over ten years provided directly to Hamilton’s Indigenous communities for poverty reduction programs. The suggestion was made by Ward 3 Coun. Matthew Green, who said he couldn’t support the motion unless funding was provided to Indigenous communities.

“Providing housing in this community is a stated mission to achieve,” said Eisenberger. “To achieve that is a significant step forward.”

City staff is expected to outline how best to use the funds in an investment strategy report that will go to councillors this summer.

The decision by councillors is a slight contrast to staff’s suggestions, and Eisenberger’s original idea to use the $50 million in a variety of ways, including education, homelessness prevention, wraparound programs, housing stability and a housing allowance.

It is unknown how many units will be constructed or renovated with the $5 million per year that will be allocated for affordable housing. Under city staff’s proposal, about $10 million would have been spent over two and a half years to build 200 housing units.

Collins, who is also president of CityHousing Hamilton’s board of directors, said the funding is critical to address what has been described as a “housing crisis” in Hamilton.

Nearly 6,000 people are on waiting lists for social housing, an increase from 5,400 in 2011.

“That number will continue to rise,” Collins said. “It is trending in the wrong direction.”

CityHousing Hamilton has capital needs of about $18 million a year, but can only pay for about $8 million in infrastructure repairs.

But Hamilton can’t fix the housing or poverty problems by itself, said Collins.

“We’ve heard some good discussions at the federal and provincial level,” he said. “We have yet to see the money flow (that) we anticipated. We can’t afford to solve this problem on our own. We really need partners.”

Eisenberger agreed, but said federal and provincial officials are watching closely how Hamilton is battling the affordable housing dilemma.

The funding is expected to begin in 2017 and continue to 2027. About $20 million will be found from extending the payback term for existing City of Hamilton loans from the Future Fund from 2031 to 2036. The other $30 million will come from Alectra Utilities’ expected dividends of about $3 million each year.

Council’s approval of the $50 million funding comes on the heels of the Social Planning and Research Council releasing an updated report on the city’s poverty rate that found the issue still persists.

Hamilton has the fourth highest poverty rate in the province at 15 per cent, with a poverty rate for children at 20.5 per cent. Hamilton’s downtown area has the highest poverty rate at 24 per cent, while the mountain is at 14.6 per cent and Stoney Creek is at 9.1 per cent.

Flamborough has the lowest poverty rate at 6 per cent, followed by Glanbrook at 6.6 per cent, Dundas at 7.2 per cent and Ancaster at 7.4 per cent.

“Income remains a fundamental problem,” said Don Jaffray, executive director of the Social Planning and Research Council.

Mountain Coun. Terry Whitehead said Hamilton, over the last 15 years, has invested millions of dollars into fighting poverty, yet the rate remains high.

“We are no better off today than 15 years ago,” he said.

Jaffray and Sara Mayo, a social planner for the Social Planning and Research Council, argued Hamilton has made progress against poverty over the years.

“It’s a complex issue,” said Jaffray. “We have a ways to go.”

Mayo said Hamilton was able to withstand the detrimental impact of the 2008 recession better than other communities. She also said Hamilton’s investments have been more along the lines of pilot projects.

“We need larger scale investments that will make a larger difference,” she said.

About 12 other people from various organizations, including the United Way of Hamilton and Burlington, and the Hamilton Legal Clinic applauded council’s poverty investment plan and urged them to take bold action to fight poverty.

 

Hamilton politicians approve ‘historic' poverty strategy to invest $50 million into affordable housing

News Apr 05, 2017 by Kevin Werner Stoney Creek News

 Hamilton councillors will use one of the largest investments in the city’s history to fight poverty by building new affordable housing units and renovating existing stock.

“It’s a great step forward for everyone that has come to the table today that has said housing is a priority for them,” said Mayor Fred Eisenberger. “To have the focus be singular and solely on housing is a very positive step indeed.”

Almost a year ago, Eisenberger proposed spending $50 million to fight poverty over 10 years, with about $20 million devoted to affordable housing and fixing aging units, and $30 million earmarked for other unspecified programs.

But at the April 5 government issues committee meeting, Eisenberger and Ward 5 Coun. Chad Collins, who called the investment “historic,” introduced a motion that would allocate all of the money for affordable housing.

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There will also be about $1 million over ten years provided directly to Hamilton’s Indigenous communities for poverty reduction programs. The suggestion was made by Ward 3 Coun. Matthew Green, who said he couldn’t support the motion unless funding was provided to Indigenous communities.

“Providing housing in this community is a stated mission to achieve,” said Eisenberger. “To achieve that is a significant step forward.”

City staff is expected to outline how best to use the funds in an investment strategy report that will go to councillors this summer.

The decision by councillors is a slight contrast to staff’s suggestions, and Eisenberger’s original idea to use the $50 million in a variety of ways, including education, homelessness prevention, wraparound programs, housing stability and a housing allowance.

It is unknown how many units will be constructed or renovated with the $5 million per year that will be allocated for affordable housing. Under city staff’s proposal, about $10 million would have been spent over two and a half years to build 200 housing units.

Collins, who is also president of CityHousing Hamilton’s board of directors, said the funding is critical to address what has been described as a “housing crisis” in Hamilton.

Nearly 6,000 people are on waiting lists for social housing, an increase from 5,400 in 2011.

“That number will continue to rise,” Collins said. “It is trending in the wrong direction.”

CityHousing Hamilton has capital needs of about $18 million a year, but can only pay for about $8 million in infrastructure repairs.

But Hamilton can’t fix the housing or poverty problems by itself, said Collins.

“We’ve heard some good discussions at the federal and provincial level,” he said. “We have yet to see the money flow (that) we anticipated. We can’t afford to solve this problem on our own. We really need partners.”

Eisenberger agreed, but said federal and provincial officials are watching closely how Hamilton is battling the affordable housing dilemma.

The funding is expected to begin in 2017 and continue to 2027. About $20 million will be found from extending the payback term for existing City of Hamilton loans from the Future Fund from 2031 to 2036. The other $30 million will come from Alectra Utilities’ expected dividends of about $3 million each year.

Council’s approval of the $50 million funding comes on the heels of the Social Planning and Research Council releasing an updated report on the city’s poverty rate that found the issue still persists.

Hamilton has the fourth highest poverty rate in the province at 15 per cent, with a poverty rate for children at 20.5 per cent. Hamilton’s downtown area has the highest poverty rate at 24 per cent, while the mountain is at 14.6 per cent and Stoney Creek is at 9.1 per cent.

Flamborough has the lowest poverty rate at 6 per cent, followed by Glanbrook at 6.6 per cent, Dundas at 7.2 per cent and Ancaster at 7.4 per cent.

“Income remains a fundamental problem,” said Don Jaffray, executive director of the Social Planning and Research Council.

Mountain Coun. Terry Whitehead said Hamilton, over the last 15 years, has invested millions of dollars into fighting poverty, yet the rate remains high.

“We are no better off today than 15 years ago,” he said.

Jaffray and Sara Mayo, a social planner for the Social Planning and Research Council, argued Hamilton has made progress against poverty over the years.

“It’s a complex issue,” said Jaffray. “We have a ways to go.”

Mayo said Hamilton was able to withstand the detrimental impact of the 2008 recession better than other communities. She also said Hamilton’s investments have been more along the lines of pilot projects.

“We need larger scale investments that will make a larger difference,” she said.

About 12 other people from various organizations, including the United Way of Hamilton and Burlington, and the Hamilton Legal Clinic applauded council’s poverty investment plan and urged them to take bold action to fight poverty.