The federal government's recent approach to funding affordable housing is doing little to help Prince Edward Islanders who need it, says Charlottetown Mayor Clifford Lee.

Clifford Lee - custom

Canada needs to return to its previous strategy for providing affordable housing, says Charlottetown Mayor Clifford Lee. (CBC)

Over the last decade the federal and provincial governments have spent millions of dollars on construction, helping to build more than 400 new housing units on P.E.I. But very few of those come with rent subsidies. Rents are instead set at the provincial average.

Lee said that's not affordable housing by his definition.

"Twenty five to thirty per cent of your income should be used for shelter expenses. And clearly that's not happening with a whole lot of families in P.E.I.," said Lee.

"We don't got to re-invent the wheel. We just have to go back and take the system that was in place prior to one that's in place now, because the one that's in place obviously doesn't work."

Under Ottawa's Economic Action Plan 2013, the federal government has committed $1.25 billion over the next five years to be spent on affordable housing in partnership with the provinces and territories. The money can be used for new construction, renovation, home ownership assistance, rent supplements, shelter allowances and accommodations for victims of family violence.

On P.E.I., long-term agreements to provide funding for rent subsidies on existing units have been allowed to expire.

Lee is asking the Federation of Canadian Municipalities for help in lobbying Ottawa to change the way it funds affordable housing.

For mobile device users: Is Ottawa's Economic Action Plan creating enough affordable housing in P.E.I.?