I am writing this letter as I spend some time with my family on the long weekend, taking a moment to breathe after an intense couple of weeks at City Hall. Our deliberations on the 2023 budget continue, with city committees hearing from community delegates and passing each section of the budget that will rise to Council on March 1st.
Last week, I dissented on the section of the Planning and Housing budget related to affordable housing, because I believe that $15 million for new construction is not nearly enough. It's been three years since Ottawa declared a housing and homelessness emergency. Since then, the number of people sleeping outside has doubled. Over 12,000 people remain on the waiting list for subsidized housing.
Between 2019 and 2020, 8,619 people experienced homelessness in Ottawa, 46% of them for the first time. The yearly capital spend on affordable housing has not changed since 2019. In real terms, in the face of record inflation, this is a cut.