Everyone needs a place to live.
We hear about real estate markets all the time. While the possibility of a bubble in the housing market (such as the one that set off a chain reaction that tanked the global economy in 2008) is a real concern, that’s not the biggest concern of affordable housing advocates.
We often hear about how people who grew up in Toronto are not able to afford to continue to live there, either because they cannot afford to own or because they cannot find affordable or available rental units. This happens outside of Toronto too: it’s just as true here in Brighton, and towns and cities of every size in between. This is a sustainability issue, and speaks to the quality of life of our communities. If we want to have healthy, vibrant, sustainable communities, access to affordable housing is crucial. Communities with mixed-income, mixed-use developments (i.e., neighbourhoods that have rich and poor people, residential and commercial space) are healthier, more accessible, and more sustainable; the alternative is ghettos, gated communities, and inevitably, gentrification.
But affordable housing isn’t just about the quality and sustainability of our communities. For the poor, housing is a critical issue of personal safety and opportunity. A person cannot get a job, much less maintain a career, without a fixed address. A person cannot enjoy physical and mental health without the security of a clean and safe place to sleep. We know that housing is a critical ingredient in virtually every measure of human success, and that ensuring secure housing improves a person’s life in every way. That not only helps that individual, it also helps our entire society. Affordable housing creates healthier communities, but it also lowers the amount that society spends on emergency services. We are all better off in every way when everyone has a place to live.
The Green Approach
Mike Schreiner, leader of the Green Party of Ontario, was in Cobourg for my nomination meeting in February. While he was here he gave a great interview about affordable housing with housing advocate Kristina Nairn on Drive Time with Dave Glover on Northumberland 89.7 FM. Here’s what he had to say:
As a REALTOR®, I spend a lot of time thinking about housing. I know that some people in my industry want to ride the wave of high real estate prices to successful careers for themselves. There has been opposition from many in the real estate market to any government programs that make it more difficult for people to buy and sell homes, even if those measures prevent a market bubble, improve the quality of our communities, or help ensure that everyone has a home.
I don’t believe that a healthy real estate market is one that leaves people behind, and I know that the choice between a healthy market and affordable housing is a false one. As your MPP I will advocate for programs that build community rather than just houses; regulations that promote sustainable markets rather than just trying to restrain bubbles; and municipal growth that is deliberate and thoroughly planned, so that everyone has a place in our communities. Where we live affects how we live, and having a home is one big difference between surviving and living.
Your Green Candidate,