Vaughan campaigns for Liberal housing agenda at community update session

Dennis Hanagan —

Housing will lead the Liberal party’s infrastructure program if they’re elected to Ottawa this October, says Trinity-Spadina MP Adam Vaughan.

The Liberal critic for Housing and Urban Affairs said solving the housing problem will be “the tool” to help solve other social problems. He spoke at a town hall meeting in early March at St. Andrews Church.

Vaughan said Stephen Harper has deepened the housing crisis. He “has managed to create the crisis in public housing but a crisis in the private market as well. That has to be addressed.”

He said the Liberals will tackle the issue of providing affordable housing. But he added that making “housing affordable … is just as critical … Housing affordability, for the middle class, has become an issue.”

He said the CMHC needs re-mandating to manage the housing market. “We have to sustain its presence, sustain its place historically in keeping home ownership alive as a possibility for the majority of Canadians.”

“The only way to deal with the housing crisis in this country is to restore funding programs such as the co-op housing affordability programs, restore those subsidies, renew those agreements while at the same time building out new housing stock,” said Vaughan.

He touted a low-income home ownership program that allows people in affordable housing, who diligently pay their rent for four years, to buy a home based on their credit rating.

He said the number on Toronto’s waiting list for housing is 92,000. “We have a real significant issue with just getting housing built.” He said the Liberal party’s infrastructure program will be led with housing.

“The most significant housing program this country has ever seen will get us back to the position where people aren’t on waiting lists in this country anymore,” he said.

Many people in need of housing—those with addictions, mental health or disability issues—need support services to go with it, said Vaughan.

“There is a significant group of the population who cannot live in housing, no matter how affordable it is, if they don’t have wrap-around supports,” he said.

“When you take someone with mental health and addiction issues and you house them and you include the cost of housing as part of the analysis you actually end up saving the government $26,000 (annually) per person if you house them and treat their conditions,” said Vaughan.

“If you stabilize someone’s life you can get at the things that have put them on the street or put them in harms way.”

Vaughan also spoke of a Liberal government providing funds to the Federation of Canadian Municipalities to work with cities and third-party providers to set up small “micro-housing” projects across the country.

About the proposed expansion of Billy Bishop Airport Vaughan drew applause when he said a federal Liberal government would not re-open the Tripartite Agreement, essentially putting an end to the proposal.