Peterborough is suffering from an epidemic. It is hidden pretty well, most of us can live our lives without even having to see it, but it is deadly. It is a housing epidemic. It is generally accepted that housing that is affordable should cost about 30% of your pre-tax income. In Peterborough, over 50% of the population spends more then this. To a single person on Ontario Works (welfare) an average bachelor apartment costs more to rent then their whole monthly check. A single parent with one child living on OW will pay 95% of their income on a 2 bedroom apartment. This has resulted in an increase in both Food Bank and Shelter usage in our city over the past couple years. It also results in many in our community living in rooming houses that are crowded, filthy, falling apart and generally unacceptable. For these horrible rooms many pay between $350-$500.
As someone who has tried to do something on the political end of this issue I have been very frustrated. No matter which level of government you go to, they will always pass the buck to the other levels. There is no cohesive, unified plan. But this could change. Currently in the House of Commons Bill C-304 has been put forward to create a National Housing Strategy. The bill calls for an increased federal role in housing through investments in
- Not for profit housing;
- Housing for the homeless;
- Access to housing for those with different needs including seniors and persons with disabilities;
- and Sustainable and environmentally sound design standards for new housing, that go beyond the one-time stimulus investment contained in Budget 2009.
This could be a big step in addressing homelessness, unacceptable housing and poverty in general in our country and in our city. This bill has been supported by many including the Canadian Medical Association and The Ontario Human Rights Commission.
I noticed that at the first reading in the House of Commons my MP Dean Del Mastro voted against the bill. I phoned and left a message asking him to reconsider. The very next day Dean was the most vocal opponent of the bill saying that it would cost Canadians to much money. Look at this list of spending at the G8/G20 in June. How can a government who spent this amount of money on hosting the most powerful people in the world say it is to expensive to protect the most vulnerable within their borders.
Mr Del Mastro is supposed to speak for us. Do you believe that it is to expensive to house those who are struggling in our city? Let’s let him know! The bill will be voted on likely next week, before that happens lets bombard him with phone calls and emails telling him that this bill needs to pass, that he did not speak for us last week. Get your friends to do the same. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org, and his phone number in Peterborough is (705) 745-2108 and in Ottawa is (613) 995-6411. We live in a country where we can have a voice in what happens, lets use it.