Author: Victoria

Ottawa will cover those in the housing crisis

Ottawa will cover those in the housing crisis

It was supposed to be a safe, affordable home for Ontarians with nowhere else to go. But inside, it was horrifying — and then the roof collapsed.

With her two little girls, Tricia was trying to live out her days in Ottawa, where she was born and raised. Her husband had tried to get disability payments for them both from Ottawa’s disability office, but the process had stalled out.

Instead of just sitting around, they had to decide how to best live until they could sell and move out of the city. They couldn’t afford the $5,500 down payment on the house.

“I’m a single mom,” said Tricia, who now lives in the basement of the building with about two dozen others. “My mom and dad were never able to buy a house, and my sister had a nice house up here, so I just decided to try to live in the house.”

Tricia was one of thousands of Ontarians who were turned down by Ottawa for housing assistance because they couldn’t prove they wouldn’t be a safety risk. For years, the government was willing to offer people shelter — including on one occasion even an apartment near Parliament — but only if they’d proven they weren’t at risk.

But now, that’s changing under Stephen McNeil’s government. The minister said Thursday that once again, Ottawa would cover those people in the housing crisis, people like Tricia, who couldn’t afford to pay for a home but were still trying to find one.

“Housing is at the core of our social safety net and housing assistance is a key piece of our long-term solution to address the high cost and long-term need for housing,” he said in an email.

“For a single mother with two young children, housing is a critical piece of her economic security. Our government will always ensure the province and the federal government do everything in their power to help people who need help.”

But critics say it’s not enough.

They note that the new government’s latest changes to the rent assistance program appear to conflict with the existing rules that state people can only be assisted for a housing need if they’re not a safety risk to the public.

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