All right, confession time: I have a cynical streak. Which is sometimes better to have out front than my mean streak…
So my little antennae were waving when I went to press conference this morning held by the Ottawa Social Housing Network billed as being the “Housing Answer”.
It was held on the third floor of the Somerset West Community Health Centre, on their gorgeous roof top patio, overlooking the adjacent Cornerstone social housing project (which I support unreservedly).
And what is the housing answer? It’s something that will need no city tax increase. Indeed, it will need no city budget increase. And it will deliver new social housing AND ensure existing housing gets repairs.
At this point my cynical brain was thinking of those energy marketers that guarantee you below market gas for the next half decade. Or fabulous energy savings from funny-shaped light bulbs. Roof top solar. Millions of TV channels for a low introductory price. Free internet.
It turns out their Answer was a bit of a letdown. The Province is uploading a bunch of social programs. So starting in 2011 and gradually increasing to 2017, what are currently city-paid-for programs will become province-paid-for programs (savings to the city: 40 million in 2011, 80 million per year by 2017).
Well, these aren’t fools rushing in where angels fear to tread, because they’ll probably get their money. What they propose is that the municipal savings from the uploading be kept by the city and they’ll spend it on the taxpayers behalf. Now they probably won’t get it all, there’ll be lots of hands out for the money bonanza, so the housing folks will be happy with 15 million per year ad infinitum.
Oh, I accidentally mentioned a word in the above para that I wasn’t prominent at the press conference. Taxpayer. If the city taxpayer isn’t going to pay for certain programs being uplifted, and should instead spend the money on something else … then who pays for the uplifted programs? I swear I shivered as I felt Dalton’s hand slip into my left front pocket and pull out my wallet [as the teens would say at this point: no homo].
Still, it was an interesting press conference to see the social housing mindset. They are being proactive, being first in line for the pot. We all know who is last at the end of the line.
I asked a few of the social housing keeners at the conference if this isn’t just a shell game, it all comes down to the lowly taxpayer. These impertinent questions got misdirected with answers about social justice, the evils of downloading, etc. Only one player half admitted that sure, it was a bit of a redirect.
On a more cheerful note, here is the Cornerstone project on Booth. It is supportive housing for seniors and other women. It will be staffed 24/7