CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. - A long-time advocate for affordable housing was pleasantly surprised by details announced Wednesday surrounding a 10-year, multi-million-dollar housing agreement between P.E.I. and Ottawa.
The bilateral agreement, reached under the National Housing Strategy, will invest a minimum of $15 million to support housing repair, construction and affordability in Prince Edward Island through a 50/50 investment with Ottawa.
“Excellent news, beautiful news,” said Bill Campbell, president of Kings Square Affordable Housing Corporation, who expects the investment will help develop and negotiate deals that are currently under consideration by developers on the Island.
“It takes a lot of pressure off the government. It gives them some badly needed money to get the infrastructure going and to negotiate in good faith with developers and non-profit NGOs like myself.’’
Campbell estimates there is currently a need for more than 1,000 affordable housing units in the province.
“I really, really would like to see the day when there is enough housing around that will make it impossible for anyone to gouge the public,’’ he said.
“Housing should be a right from birth…I really, really feel that if there is enough housing stock around, the rental rates will go down to acceptable levels. Nobody will be able to take advantage of the market we are in now.’’
At a glance
Here are the highlights of a major housing agreement struck between the governments of P.E.I. and Canada:
- The $14.93 million investment is split equally between the two levels of government, not including investments under the Canada Housing Benefit
- In addition to new construction, investments under the agreement will target the preservation of at least 936 existing community housing units in P.E.I.
- P.E.I. will develop and publish three-year action plans that set targets and outline how it will use federal and cost-matched funding to achieve desired outcomes
The governments of Canada and P.E.I. will also work together on the design and implementation of a new Canada Housing Benefit for the province to provide affordability support directly to families and individuals in housing need.
In addition to new construction, investments under the agreement will target the preservation of at least 936 existing community housing units in P.E.I.
Family and Human Services Minister Tina Mundy said the provincial government has been taking the challenge of addressing affordable housing — which she considers 25 per cent of an individual’s income going towards rent — very seriously.
“Many people that find themselves in a core housing need are already in units,’’ she added.
“So, it’s not necessarily new builds. It’s helping those people in their communities in their homes right now meet the demand of having to pay that rent and leaving more money in your pocket. So, in that term, we will continue to roll out rent supplements and we will continue with new builds and engaging developers to meet whatever the shortfall might be.’’
Adam Vaughan, parliamentary secretary to the federal minister of social development, said P.E.I. is well positioned to benefit strongly from the National Housing Strategy.
“There are additional programs that P.E.I. has access to that they can build the housing system that they need to meet the needs of Islanders – and that’s critical,’’ said Vaughan, who signed the housing agreement with MacLauchlan in Charlottetown Wednesday.
“The good news is your housing system is in good shape. It’s got some stress. All housing systems do, but you are anticipating pressures and you’re building in anticipation of growth and you’re forecasting where you need to be before you get there.’’