The Suburban – April 1, 2015
‘Real social effects’
It’s not the wholesale scrapping advocates feared but it’s almost that bad.
The province’s only social housing program was slashed in half last week in the Liberal government’s budget. AccèsLogis provides 40-50 per cent of the costs to create rental housing in partnership with community groups, municipalities and private developers.
Social housing advocates are decrying the partial shift to subsidies as a transfer of the social responsibility to create decent, affordable housing in viable communities to the private market.
What Sheetal Pathak of Project Genesis finds disconcerting is that the Liberal government announced a first year’s 1,500 social housing units but rent subsidies for 1,000 then 1,200 new subsidies over the next four years. “They are talking about rent subsidies for the coming years but nothing about AccèsLogis, which tells us that they may be phasing it out.”
Pathak and other critics say private subsidies don’t ensure quality, has no long-term gain and may actually increase rents, while building housing can stabilize rents and boost quality of private properties.
“We think this is a step toward privatizing housing services with no guarantees of quality and will encourage slumlords who will not feel compelled to improve conditions.”
The government’s own figures show that every social housing dollar spent generates $2.30 of wealth through employment, construction and other spinoffs, while annually saving taxpayer cash—estimated at $130 million—in social programs related to homelessness, seniors, the handicapped and mental illness.
For the Quebec Federation of Housing Cooperatives (CQCH), cutting AccèsLogis is incomprehensible.
According to the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation only 12 private rental homes were created in the area between January 2011-September 2014, compared to 1,597 condominiums, and the vacancy rate of three-bedroom rentals in CDN stands at a dismal 1.3 per cent.
Groups also fear that as vacancy rates vary from year to year, a sudden drop may prompt landlords to drop out of the program.