Support affordable housing developments, Winnipeg mayoral candidates say
Robert-Falcon Ouellette supports End Homelessness Winnipeg's target of 1,340 units of affordable housing
The City of Winnipeg must do more to create affordable housing in order to combat homelessness, one mayoral candidate said on Tuesday.
"If you want to tell them, those who are homeless, that they can' t sleep here, then we need to have some place for them to go," said Robert-Falcon Ouellette, during a news conference near a homeless camp on Higgins Avenue.
"Our goal is to support the people and the organizations who want to provide housing, so let's get it done."
Ouellette promised to hire dedicated staff to help community groups seeking to build affordable and rent-geared-to-income housing in the city. He didn't know the exact number of staff the city would need to hire, but estimated it could be between five and 10.
"The city must provide its full leadership to help housing groups who want to end homelessness," he said.
"From designing, zoning approval, applications and funding, we can do so much to help more people."
He supports End Homelessness Winnipeg's target of creating 1,340 units of affordable, transitional and rent-geared-to-income housing. He would aim to accomplish this within the next eight years.
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Rather than concentrating affordable housing developments in one area like downtown, Ouellette said projects need to be spread throughout the city.
"You need to have the doctor living next to the teacher, the civil servants living next to the construction worker, and those who are even on social assistance, because that is actually what is good for community," he said.
To get there, Ouellette said the city needs to hold developers to their commitments to include affordable housing as part of mixed-use developments when it approves projects.
"I'm not going to let it slide. I know others have let that slide and said, 'Well, you don't have to do it' … Well, that is not the vision that we need for our city."
Ouellette also wants to expand access to the Homeless Individuals and Families Information System — a data collection and case management system created by the federal government that allows multiple service providers in the same community to access real-time data and coordinate services.
Earlier in the campaign, Ouellette called for the city to tax downtown parking lots as if they had buildings on them — a change that would require the province to amend the City of Winnipeg charter.
Ouellette estimated that such a move would bring in $65 million a year, some of which would be earmarked for affordable housing. Several downtown parking lots are owned by various levels of government, and Ouellette said they could be used for developments that included affordable housing.
Other candidates, including Scott Gillingham and Kevin Klein, have called for the city to build temporary and modular housing units on city-owned vacant lots.
Ouellette's homelessness plan comes a week after he released his addictions platform, which called for a supervised consumption site and a call for the province to make pharmaceutical alternatives to non-medical drugs available.
Encourage highrise buildings: Adelakun
Another Winnipeg mayoral candidate, Idris Adelakun, also released an affordable housing plan on Tuesday.
Adelakun promised to amend zoning rules to encourage more highrise developments, he said in a news release.
He aims to create 200 units of affordable housing per year.
He also wants the city to allow building on smaller lots, and to lease city property to affordable housing providers.
Adelakun says he would also work with council to allocate more to the housing rehabilitation investment reserve, which the city has currently allocated $160,000 in the 2022 budget.
Ouellette, Adelaun, Klein, and Gillingham are among 11 candidates running for mayor. Rana Bokhari, Chris Clacio, Shaun Loney, Jenny Motkaluk, Rick Shone and Don Woodstock are also on the ballot.
Advance polls in Winnipeg are open until Oct. 21. Election day is Oct. 26.