Corp Comm Connects

Mayor hints at more housing money in 2018 budget
Commitment comes as report emerges of major problem with city program.
Oct. 25, 2017
Kieran Delamont

Mayor Jim Watson says that the city can expect more money for housing in the 2018 budget, set to be tabled on November 8.

His comments came in response to a CBC News report published Wednesday that detailed a apartment that had been ruined after the landlord participated in the Landlord Partnership Program, which connects landlords with vacant units with homeless people through Ottawa’s Housing First initiative.

“I saw the footage, it was absolutely disgusting,” said Watson. “I’ve asked our city manager, Steve Kanellakos, to look into it.... We have to ensure this type of activity doesn’t happen in a private residence.

“The budget will come out in the next couple of weeks, and certainly you’re going to see additional dollars for housing in the City of Ottawa,” said Watson.

Watson declined to give specifics about how much money, or to what program, would be included in the budget.

“We’re going to put more emphasis and increase on housing,” he said. “Housing is obviously a priority of our council — it was one of the term of council priorities — and my hope is that these dollars will assist us in bringing the wait list down.”

Watson also played down the idea of raising property taxes beyond the two per cent cap — something that some councillors have been asking for in order to pay for city services.

The Community and Protective Services Committee is also slated to look at the city’s housing and homelessness strategy in February.

The CBC report also elicited strong words from Coun. Mathieu Fleury, whose ward the apartment was located in and who chairs the Ottawa Community Housing board. Fleury criticized the city for underfunding the plan.

“I still believe in Housing First, but as you can see there’s missing components, there’s missing co-ordination here,” he said.

“We have not funded enough in Housing First. I’ve been on council for just over seven years, and when we approved the plan it was clear that we were shifting away from shelter use,” he said. “We haven’t seen that financial shift.

“We’ve bought in, we’ve got the policies in place, we’ve got the commitment from council, but we’re not seeing a full shift in the department.... In my mind, this demonstrates gaps in the approach.”