Provincial and municipal government officials in Ottawa-Vanier are hoping a new taskforce can help find solutions to an affordable housing problem in the riding and beyond.
The Affordable Housing Task Force, led by Ottawa-Vanier MPP Lucille Collard, includes Ottawa City Councillors Tim Tierney (Ward 11, Beacon Hill-Cyrville), Mathieu Fleury (Ward 12, Rideau-Vanier) and Rawlson King (Ward 13, Rideau-Rockcliffe).
Collard promised the creation of this task force when she was elected earlier this year, given the growing challenge and hardship around the lack of adequate, safe and affordable housing options in the area.
Ottawa currently has a social housing wait list that exceeds 12,000 families -- a number that has gone up almost 15 per cent since 2017.
"Regardless of background or socio-economic circumstances, the current lack of affordable housing and its impact on our community is an issue that constituents raise consistently," said Collard. "After speaking with my elected colleagues, we determined that by pooling our knowledge and resources together, we would be most effective at helping solve this critical housing issue."
Collard explains that the task force's members have each worked on projects related to improving housing affordability and reducing homelessness in their respective roles, however, the group sees this initiative as a new opportunity to find creative solutions.
The group has already agreed that it needs to focus on reducing the number of Ottawa families currently waiting to access social housing -- especially those currently living in crowded motel rooms. The taskforce also plans to focus on creating safe spaces for Inuit women and children seeking shelter and permanent housing, especially those fleeing violence.
To build on positive initiatives that are happening locally, the group says it will be looking at specific actions and tools that could pave the way to create more affordable housing. This includes identifying and mapping available lands owned by all levels of government, to create a comprehensive list of potential properties where new affordable or social housing could be located. It would also involve taking a larger view of what possible funding and partnership opportunities could be leveraged, from federal, provincial and municipal government programs and grants to private sector support and investments.
Lastly, the task force aims to coordinate legislative efforts, to ensure that all levels of government are working in a complimentary way.
The group says it will be looking to engage various community stakeholders and housing experts to inform its strategy and activities in the coming months.