Organizations call for affordable housing strategy in Canada

Global News, August 18, 2015 - A local Saskatoon organization is joining the call for a nationally-funded affordable housing strategy in Canada. Len Usiskin, from Quint Development Corporation, says a housing crisis is developing in Saskatoon and across Canada, and that this should be a priority in the 2015 federal election.

“People are really suffering, especially people on fixed incomes,” said Usiskin. “We’re not keeping up with the demand for affordable housing in Saskatoon or across Canada.”

“There’s millions of people who are in severe housing need. They could be paying more than 50 per cent of their income on housing.”

The average cost of a two-bedroom apartment in Saskatoon is over $1,000, and incomes are not matching that, according to Usiskin. This leads to issues such as overcrowding in small spaces and a greater need at the local food banks.

Quint was formed years ago as one solution to the housing problem. The organization is involved with providing home ownership co-ops for families in the core neighbourhoods, and purchasing and renovating older apartment buildings.

“We’ve been working on affordable housing various forms for the last 20 years, but unfortunately for every 18 applications there’s only one spot we can fill,” said Usiskin.

“Last year we had about 275 applications and 75 spots. The demand is outpacing our ability to provide and it’s only growing.”

Usiskin, along with others in the housing industry, would like parties to make affordable housing a priority in their federal election platforms. So far, no specific promises have been made. Right now Canada is one of the only countries in the G8 that doesn’t have a national affordable housing strategy.

“It hasn’t become a big election issue yet, but we know a few parties have mentioned housing as part of their platform, so we’re hopeful that it becomes a major election issue because it’s facing so many low and middle-class Canadians.”

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