Financial support announced for rapid housing for those at risk in Winnipeg

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The federal government has announced increased financial support, administered by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), for rapid housing in Winnipeg to meet the needs of those at risk who may be affected by the pandemic. However, a spokesperson for a tax watchdog said the spending should be viewed in light of Canada’s growing national debt.

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The COVID-19 pandemic has increased the need for affordable housing and led to an increase in homelessness, CMHC said in a press release Monday. As a result, $ 12.8 million is spent on building approximately 51 new affordable housing units for individuals and families in Winnipeg under the Cities component of the expanded Federal Rapid Housing Initiative (RHI). The housing, to be completed in “12 months or less”, will support people in precarious housing situations and those experiencing homelessness.

“This (funding) is, of course, to put the infrastructure in place,” Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman said at a press conference on Monday. “Of course, health care, social services and housing are areas of jurisdictional responsibility for the province – which is why some of the recent investments from our provincial partners are welcome. But all levels of government have a role to play, so we continue to do our part. The federal government is showing its support to meet the acute needs of our community with this announcement and others.

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The investment, targeting women and children fleeing domestic violence, seniors, young adults, Indigenous people, people with disabilities, people with mental health and addictions issues, veterans, individuals LGBTQ2, racialized and black Canadians, and recent immigrants or refugees, builds on the federal government’s previous investment of $ 12.5 million under the first phase of RHI.

However, Todd MacKay, director of the Prairies at the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, suggests Winnipeggers should consider Canada’s growing national debt when considering the funding announcement.

“Housing is definitely a big issue, and we want to make sure that people who need housing can get it,” he said. “The problem, however, would be the price. The federal government is currently running a huge deficit. The debt stands at over $ 1,000 billion. And so we have to make sure that we are very careful with the money, and when it comes to housing you really have to ask yourself some tough questions.

MacKay said government red tape, taxes and permit delays can make private sector housing initiatives more difficult and costly.

“In this specific situation, I hope this money helps the people who really need it and helps the right people,” he said. “Overall, spending money on a problem can’t be the solution every time.”

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