I had left Gail alone since she filed her nomination papers. Thinking about it, I am not really sure why. Maybe because she is a housing advocate and I am a landlord. I guess I presumed we would be on opposite sides of the spectrum on that issue, which is one that is dear to my heart. She made some good points in her comment on my post here:
So I contacted her via email and asked her to comment on affordable housing as a blog post. Strangely enough I agree with much of what she says as follows:
Affordable housing, both rental and home ownership are important for many reasons. There are economic development implications for the municipality and for taxpayers related to a lack of affordable housing. If people cannot afford to live here this impacts on the labour force and on the ability to attract new businesses. Businesses looking to establish in a location do take into account that there will be housing opportunities based on the wages they plan to pay.
As a community that currently has a focus on tourism there is a need for service workers who struggle to make ends meet and often work two or three jobs.
From the perspective of the taxpayer the costs of doing nothing are high. It is a proven fact that when families who do not have stable housing their children do not learn well and there are higher costs in the areas of education, health care and the criminal justice system as a result.
Taking it out to the most extreme situation of homelessness it costs the tax payer $1,900 a month for someone who is homeless compared to $700 or $800 for an apartment for that same person.
These are just a few of the reasons why it is important for our community to focus on the issue of affordable housing and to be concerned with low vacancy rates. To have a healthy blended community where there are housing opportunities for all the vacancy rate should be between 4% & 5%. Our most recent CMHC rate is .7%. Barrie’s Mayor Jeff Lehman put it best when he said this is a system that is broken.
Mayor Lehman also accurately pinpoints a problem with all levels of government who happily shuffle the issue off to the next level of government when in fact it has become such a problem across Canada that it can only be solved collectively by all levels of government. There are many solutions – some of which are already working well in other jurisdictions and not all of which cost a lot. The long term costs of doing nothing are higher.