Gail Michalenko on Affordable Housing

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.


5 thoughts on “Gail Michalenko on Affordable Housing

  1. Like any venture that depends on human nature and people’s conscience being a landlord is not a guaranteed outcome. You take the good with the bad. I am glad you overcame your initial reservations and emailed Gail. You had put forward that you would give an open forum and it’s important that you give a level playing field.
    We don’t want another council where everyone votes in lockstep! It’s important to hear all sides of an issue and make a totally informed decision. That’s supposed to be how it works. Debate means an opportunity to change opinion and make the best possible group decision that is not self serving but for the public good.

  2. I have to agree with you Nobody, although I was lucky enough to have some decent tenants on the other hand I had quite a few bad ones. I had two properties I rented out and I am proud to say I was a good landlord. I only raised the rent every three years and only by $10.00. I was on call 23/7 even for the little things like “would you mind installing a ceiling fan in the bedroom”? There should be some sort of central screening by the Province of Ontario, the landlord tenant act is a joke. After ten years of renting, I threw in the towel (along with the crap, garbage and dirt I had to clean up) and sold both places. I let go of a lot of stress and took my life back.

  3. If the costs of doing nothing are higher, not just economically but socially, can anyone explain why the Town of Collingwood had NO representatives at the recent affordable housing symposium?

  4. They are good comments and I support those exact things…I think affordable housing works well for both sides of the financial spectrum. However I’d like to hear more about what protects the landlords. I moved into this town with the intention of buying and renting properties as a secondary income. I had no illusion to the fact this was not going to be a big income…maybe a couple hundred dollars a month if I was lucky. But with the current cost of real estate in Collingwood and the potential for getting a derelict tenant…it’s not realistic. This is not the only place I’ve heard horror stories. With just 20% down on any house you’ll be lucky to cover costs. If you have one bad month your in the hole. It’s just not worth it as someone who is trying to break into that market. Sadly this needs to be left to people that can put a lot more down and not need to worry about the headaches of managing the properties and the people in them. But maybe this is more an argument of human nature and finance vs rental properties in Collingwood?

    • Good luck with that one Captain Chris I am a landlord and it sucks. It is like a second job for me, with very little pay. It amazes me how renters think because I am a landlord it is their God given right to leave me piles of there crap to clean up and damage my property. Until some laws in this province change don’t even think about it.

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