County officials part of meeting with Trudeau on housing, homelessness

WELLINGTON COUNTY – The 2021 federal budget as it relates to housing and homelessness in Guelph and Wellington County was the topic of an April 26 virtual meeting involving city and county officials and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Hosted by Guelph MP Lloyd Longsfield, the Zoom meeting focused on regional efforts to eliminate chronic homelessness.

The discussion on investment and collaboration and the National Housing Strategy brought together a local group that included the Guelph and Wellington Task Force for Poverty Elimination as well as Guelph Mayor Cam Guthrie, Wellington County Warden Kelly Linton, Guelph Community Health Centre, Canadian Mental Health Association, The Welcome In Drop In Centre, Kindle Communities, Wyndham House, Stonehenge Therapeutic Community and St. Joseph’s Housing Corporation.

“With housing costs on the rise, many Canadian families are having trouble finding an affordable place to live,” stated Trudeau in a press release issued following the meeting.

“That’s why Budget 2021 continues our hard work to create more safe and affordable housing options for Canadians, and finds real solutions to the challenges people are facing.

“By investing in safe and affordable housing, we get closer to our goal of ending chronic homelessness, create new jobs, grow the middle class, and help families in communities across Ontario get ahead.”

Longfield said local collaboration around housing projects “is key to our progress to date and key to eliminating homelessness in the next two years.

“The diversity of solutions comes from diverse input and partnerships with the federal government and municipal councils in Guelph and Wellington County. Budget 2021 continues our focus on helping to find a place to call home for everyone in Guelph-Wellington.”

At the April 29 county council meeting, Linton commended county housing director Mark Poste for his presentation during the gathering.

“It’s not every day you get an opportunity to meet directly with the prime minister. So thanks very much, Mark and the whole team,” said Linton.

Linton added, “Our 10-year homelessness and housing strategy has caught the attention of the federal government and Prime Minister Trudeau wanted to talk about our plans for the future.

“We demonstrated a really good partnership with Guelph over the last few years. This is one of the areas that was in the federal government’s budget, so there was a lot of interest in what the county is doing in partnership with the city.”

Linton concluded, “It was a good meeting and I hope that there are opportunities for funding from the federal government in the future on this really, really important issue of homelessness and housing affordability across the County of Wellington.”

The press release notes the federal budget contains a number of measures aimed making housing more affordable, helping the most vulnerable, and ending homelessness across the country, including:

  • speeding up the construction and repair of 35,000 affordable housing units across Canada;
  • providing direct financial assistance for low-income women and children fleeing violence;
  • introducing Canada’s first national tax on vacant or underused residential property owned by foreign non-residents;
  • investing in safe and affordable housing for northern Canadians; and
  • creating a pilot program to reduce veteran homelessness through rent supplements.