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Apartments needed

Toronto Star - October 13, 2000

New Democrat Howard Hampton has called for a two-year rent freeze to tackle the crisis in affordable housing.

It's a laudable proposal. A freeze would prevent some tenants from being evicted this winter. But it's a Band-Aid at best. The real problem remains a lack of affordable apartments.

Easing the shortage will require the governing Conservatives to reverse their wrong-headed reliance on the market to meet demand.

Developers are busy building condos, not affordable housing. That won't change until Queen's Park offers the kind of financial incentives needed to encourage the construction of apartments for low-income tenants.

The desperate accommodation shortage is largely a problem of the government's own making. Since they were elected in 1995, the Tories have eased rent controls and halted construction of subsidized housing. Predictably, rents have gone up and the already tight supply of apartments has worsened.

According to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp., just 204 apartment units were built in Greater Toronto last year. So far this year, there have been seven.

The evidence is clear: the Tories' flawed and unworkable housing policies are exacting a terrible toll on low-income renters, notably families and seniors. Nevertheless, Housing Minister Tony Clement fuses to change course. In rejecting Hampton's proposal, he said rent controls would deter developers from building rental accommodation.

What developers? Nothing is being built.

It's time for the Tories to swallow their pride and admit their mistakes. Their intransigence is costing people their homes.

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