Liberals look to buy dilapidated buildings to save on affordable housing

OTTAWA – A new analysis of the country’s stockpile of affordable housing suggests that the Liberals’ decades-long strategy to provide more before began in a deeper hole than previously thought, and may lag further behind once the COVID-19 epidemic passes.

However, the epidemic could also mean an opportunity for governments to choose cheaper rental units.

Steve Pomero, a researcher at Carlton University, whose housing group and government both rely on advice, found 322,600 affordable rental units in the private market between 2011 and 2011.

During the same period, federal and provincial investments in affordable housing produced about 20,000 affordable units, meaning that each new unit the government created, 15 were damaged.

That means the Liberals ’national housing strategy and plan to create 150,000 affordable units in 10 years will only replace about half of what was lost.

The new concern is that the situation will repeat itself after the current economic crisis driven by the epidemic, problems with renting tenants will put pressure on smaller landlords and will be equipped with larger real estate funds with greater interest in keeping their assets are affordable.

This is why the federal government is considering buying these resources at a later stage in the government’s response to the epidemic.

“I had a position on this, if you can’t beat them, join them,” said Fellow, a senior researcher at the Center for Research and Education in Carlton.

“If (real-estate investment trusts) come and buy these properties, why don’t we let nonprofits do the same thing or enable nonprofits to do the same thing?”

In recent days, Social Development Minister Ahmed Hussein, in a meeting with housing advocates, suggested that he be open to keeping the federal dollar behind the idea.

Jeff Morrison, executive director of the Canadian Housing and Renewal Association, said, “If this is an opportunity to really put a serious dent in displacement, we should take that opportunity.”

Pomero, who also works as a consultant, also commented that there is no specific program under the National Housing Strategy to enable acquisitions. Public support like this is needed to help small, non-profit housing providers raise the capital needed to buy property.

So far, some affordable housing has lagged behind in rental payments. Morrison said about ten percent of the units are in arrears or unpaid.

Tim Richter, president of the Canadian Alliance for the Elimination of Homelessness, told lawmakers at a Commons committee this week that there was “genuine concern” that the economic crisis created by COVID-19 could exacerbate losses in affordable units.

“If we’re in a hole, we have to stop digging,” Richar said.

Pomero estimated that a real target for the federal program would be to buy about 7,500 units annually, spending more than 1 1 billion on a mix of equity, loans and grants to purchase and rebuild units.

These units could be a combination of apartments that could quickly become affordable or social housing units, as well as other assets that could be converted into housing, such as a strip mall or commercial office space, ”said The Shift’s residential-rights group.

“If it happens that all of these potentially different types of property become frustrating, it’s an amazing opportunity for local, provincial and national governments to consider moving and purchasing these assets to increase public access.”

Furthermore, there are fears that motels and hotels will close, pushing homeless people into shelters to avoid overcrowding and reduce the spread of COVID-19.

This report from the Canadian Press was first published in 1420, 2020.

Jordan Press, Canadian Press

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