Our housing crisis

Op-Ed

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by Steve Gabell

I’d like to thank Ian and Graeme Waymark for their contributions to the debate around the housing crisis we’re experiencing across the country. As someone who spent much of their life in the UK, I look back to the post-war era as a source of inspiration. The UK was heavily bombed during WW2 and large numbers of buildings were severely damaged or destroyed. It was estimated that 750,000 new homes were required in 1945 in England and Wales to provide all families with accommodation. Despite being heavily indebted as a result of the war, and suffering economically with the loss of the empire, the British government built an enormous number of houses using the levers available to them, including using new building techniques and enabling municipalities to build their own housing. In the decade after 1945, a staggering 1.5 million houses had been built.

Housing can be built rapidly and at scale, if the political will is there. In the immediate aftermath of WW2, private builders in the UK were never going to be able to build the amount of housing needed, so the government stepped in. Unfortunately, the last forty years of neoliberal dogma means current governments are generally unable and unwilling to deliver these kinds of projects, preferring instead to leave everything to market forces. The federal government seems as if it is starting to change course, having apparently adopted much of the Ontario Greens’ housing plan. The federal government is offering $6 billion to provinces to help achieve housing goals, the only catch being the need to legalise fourplexes across the province. Unbelievably, Doug Ford decided to reject this offer. Adding missing middle, medium density housing is the cheapest, fastest, and most environmentally friendly way to increase the number of homes across the Province.

We need political action to tackle this housing crisis. Doug Ford seems completely out of ideas to tackle this crisis ever since his scheme to pave over the Greenbelt collapsed in scandal (and saw MPP Clark resign his ministerial position). Ford’s refusal to legalise missing middle housing will ensure that Ontario’s young people and families are locked out of the housing market for decades to come. Ontario Greens are calling on Ford to drop his NIMBY nonsense, legalise fourplexes across the province, and unlock billions of dollars in federal funding by passing Mike Schreiner’s bill, The Homes You Can Afford in the Communities You Love Act.

 

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