Volume 96, Issue 61
Friday, January 17, 2003

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Council avoids cuts to affordable housing

By Diana Whellams
Gazette Writer

London City Council announced Wednesday it will not support a recommendation to cut $2 million from the budget for affordable housing in 2003.

"We're pleased that the members of council are starting to build a more cohesive response to the issue of homelessness in London," said London Homeless Coalition spokesperson Julie Glaser, adding more action still needs to be taken.

According to a Community Progress Report released by LHC in 2002, London has the second-worst core-housing need in the country, said Jeremy McNaughton, spokesperson for Action Family, a local non-profit organization, who organized a protest of the proposed cuts on Monday at City Hall

There are over 15,000 households in the city contributing more than 50 per cent of their income towards rent and utilities, meaning they could easily become homeless with a change of circumstances, McNaughton said, adding only 628 affordable housing units were available on the rental market this past year.

McNaughton said London faces unique problems with regard to homelessness. "It is especially important to have transitional housing with two psychiatric hospitals nearby," he added.

"There's no one answer because there's no one problem," said Susan Eagle, Ward 7 city councillor and chair of the Community and Protective Services Committee.

Municipal governments have had to struggle to provide affordable housing, since the responsibility was passed down to them from the provincial government without the proper funding to match, Eagle said.

The federal government has committed to a plan to supplement London's $2 million with $10 million of its own money over the course of five years, but the city continues to lobby the province for money, she added.

The funding will be directed towards a variety of projects, including the construction of new affordable housing and subsidies for landlords interested in redeveloping their properties, Eagle explained.

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