Mulcair says NDP will keep Cloverdale subsidies going
June 29th, 2015 - 2:06pm
Montreal gazette | By Anne Sutherland
NDP leader Thomas Mulcair stopped by Cloverdale housing coop in Pierrefonds on June 26 with a promise that if his party is elected in October’s federal election, money for social housing will not only continue but will increase.
Mulcair spoke to residents of Cloverdale and the Terrasse Soleil housing co-operative who are concerned that a long-standing agreement with the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation that provides financial subsidies for those in need will come to an end this year under the Conservative Government.
Under the current agreement, tenants in need contribute 25 per cent of their revenue to cover the rent. The remainder of the rental charge is covered by the CMHC.
When the federal money stops flowing it will mean a loss of $26,500 per month that helped pay the rent for 277 tenants in Cloverdale and $5,556 less per month for aid to 30 tenants at Terrasse Soleil.
The Cloverdale money runs out in October and the Terrasse Soleil entente ends July 1.
“There’s no excuse in a country doing as well as Canada that the precarity that people already feel in the labour market will extend to their homes,” Mulcair said.
“Prime Minister Harper is cutting subsidies to social housing and it will hurt the most vulnerable.”
“In our cooperative there are 3,000 people,” said Samuel-Seri Gnali, president of Cloverdale Village. “There are many recent immigrants, many children and many vulnerable people.
“We have 277 families, older people, handicapped people who will see their rent double and, in certain cases, triple,” Gnali said.
Cloverdale has grown and cleaned up a reputation earned in the 1990s as a hot bed of crime.
“There was prostitution and drugs in the ’90s,” Mulcair said.
“Now, there is a curfew for the teenagers, lots of activities, the residents have organized their own citizen patrols, no one is scared to walk at night,” Mulcair said.
“Cut the subsidies and we could take a step back in that respect,” he said of residents turning to crime to supplement their income in order to pay rent.
Douglas Alford, with the non-profit Groupe Conseil en Développement de l’Habitation, has worked with Cloverdale since 1998, renovating existing buildings and building new ones.
“If the subsidies disappear, there will be two factors that could put the community in a downspin,” Alford said.
“One is that in a crunch at the end of the month a small minority of tenants might turn to crime to pay the rent.
“The other is that people who can’t pay will move out, the vacancy rate will go up and this is dangerous for the community,” Alford said.
Marjolaine Boutin-Sweet, an NDP member of Parliament for Hochelaga, recently travelled across Canada as part of her mandate to cover infrastructure, including social housing.
“The situation in Cloverdale causes deep problems for people already having trouble paying the rent,” Boutin-Sweet said.
“In some cases this will mean tenants paying $200 more after the end of the subsidies, and those on a fixed income cannot afford this.
“We were just in Sudbury where the subsidies have ended and an apartment that was less than $400 went up to $900 a month,” Boutin-Sweet said.
“An NDP government would maintain the $1.7 billion currently spent on social housing and invest another $2 billion,” she added.
“Cutting subsidies is a decision made by someone who doesn’t know this place,” said Lysane Blanchette-Lamothe, MP for Pierrefonds-Dollard.