April 19, 2017 8:34 am

City council approves $1.6M for affordable housing in London

London City Hall

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London city council approved putting $1.6 million towards affordable housing Tuesday, but not without some fireworks.

The money comes from a $4.6-million budget surplus. From the surplus, $3 million will go towards demolishing Lorne Avenue public school, while the rest will be spent on affordable housing.

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Coun. Josh Morgan called on council to set aside the funds until city staff can report back on various housing and homelessness programs, but his motion lost 8-4.

“This is an opportunity/cost discussion about $1.6 million and how do we best spend it,” said Morgan.

“We can leverage it in many different ways and I’m not going to presume that a couple of points at a committee meeting or a document that’s handed out before council is going to lead me to make the best possible decision with that $1.6 million.”

Morgan says he’s not against spending money on affordable housing, he just wants to make sure the money is well spent.

Coun. Maureen Cassidy said she wanted to see council move forward with putting the cash to use.

“So, as far as ‘let’s slow this down,’ tell that to somebody that doesn’t have a home,” said Cassidy.

“This is an issue that I do not agree that we should slow this down, I think the committee came to a very good recommendation, there are people living in shelters.”

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Mayor Matt Brown shared Cassidy’s sentiments.

“We do have to put our money where our mouth is and we’ve made a commitment to housing,” said Brown.

“This is an opportunity, this is a surplus that has presented itself at a time where the federal government is serious about creating a national housing strategy, and I feel the time to act is now.”

The money will go towards building more units to keep them at below market rates.

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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