Poverty plan to focus on affordable housing supply

Downtown, West Hamilton residents will see the bigger tax hikes in 2017 due to soaring property values.
Downtown, West Hamilton residents will see the bigger tax hikes in 2017 due to soaring property values. File / 900 CHML

Hamilton’s poverty reduction strategy will be laser-focused on the city’s housing crisis.

A motion authored by Ward 5 Councillor Chad Collins, and unanimously approved by the general issues committee on Wednesday afternoon, earmarks all $50 million within the ten-year plan to the “supply and quality of affordable housing.”

READ MORE: Hamilton councillors to debate $50M poverty reduction plan

Collins predicts that the city will be able to help “all of our social housing providers in terms of keeping the lights on” and “making sure that the roof is keeping people safe and warm.”

He notes that hundreds of units across the city are currently considered uninhabitable due to needed repairs.

Collins also believes the strategy, which requires final approval at next week’s meeting of city council, will allow us to “make inroads, hopefully, with new units” at a time when six thousand families are on Hamilton’s waiting list for affordable housing.

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The housing-only strategy replaces a multi-pronged approach that had been recommended within a report presented by Hamilton’s Medical Officer of Health and would have involved investments in housing, homelessness prevention and a variety of support programs.

Collins says his concern with that strategy is that “we would have tried our best in many categories” but looked back in ten years to realize that we spread it too thin to make a “substantial difference.”

READ MORE: More Hamilton food bank users than ever at extreme risk of homelessness

Mayor Eisenberger adds that he appreciates the desire for a “cleaner, simpler” direction, stressing that he’s also confident the revised plan will represent a “significant stride forward.”

Hamilton’s poverty rate ranges from five to forty-six percent by postal code and is highest among single parents, adults living alone, recent immigrants and the aboriginal community.

The poverty reduction strategy will be funded using Hamilton Future Fund and hydro dividend monies.