Mayor hopes Ontario budget helps Hamilton's affordable housing crunch

The Ontario budget on Thursday included $178 million for affordable housing. Mayor Fred Eisenberger hopes some of that comes to Hamilton, where 5,700 families are waiting.

Thursday's budget included $178 M for affordable housing

Ontario Finance Minister Charles Sousa delivers the provincial budget in Toronto on Thursday. Hamilton's mayor hopes the $178 affordable housing commitment over three years helps the city's housing crunch. (John Rieti/CBC)

Hamilton has an affordable housing crunch, but Mayor Fred Eisenberger says he's hopeful that the new Ontario budget will at least partially solve the problem.

The provincial budget announced Thursday afternoon included $178 million for affordable housing over three years — money that could result in as many as 1,500 affordable housing units.

Eisenberger said with Hamilton's social housing waiting list of 5,681 households, he hopes some of that will flow here.

Hamilton is about $20 million short when it comes to fixing and building affordable housing, Eisenberger said. So the city will try to get as much of that money as possible.

He's also hopeful that the federal budget this year will include an affordable housing commitment, which would put a dent in Hamilton's housing problems.

"We have a waiting list of some 6,000 households," he said. "We have hundreds of millions in housing stock."

He'd like Hamilton to get "our fair share."

Affordable housing is a growing problem in the city. Housing prices are skyrocketing through the city's hot housing market, but that's also putting pressure on Hamilton's rental market.

The city is looking at social housing fixes such as offering up some of its own land to non-profit agencies and developers who pledge to build the right kind of housing there.

Social housing will also be an issue at 7 p.m. on Thursday, when the city holds a consultation meeting at 294 James St. N., which is the West Harbour Community Engagement Hub.

Residents are expected to weigh in on a plan to sell two CityHousing Hamilton social housing properties — 500 MacNab and the Jamesville townhouse complex — to build double the number of units at the Barton/Tiffany lands.

As for when housing money might come to Hamilton, "Soon, I hope," said Ted McMeekin, who is the MPP for Ancaster-Dundas-Flamborough-Westdale and Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing.

"The stars are lining up," he said. "But there's still some clouds we have to clear away. Fortunately, there seems to be a shared sense of purpose between the federal government and the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing."

Here are some other budget highlights:

  • The average household could pay about $13 per month more in energy and fuel costs under Ontario's new cap-and-trade plan. The plan will bring in an estimated $1.9 billion per year, which will be spent on initiatives to cut greenhouse gases.
  • The steel industry, as well as industries such as cement and lime, will get free allowances on their emissions for the first years of the cap-and-trade program. 

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