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  • Writer's pictureESSEX FREE PRESS

NDP wants to build affordable homes, implement foreign investment tax on Canadian real estate

by Sylene Argent

Last Thursday, the Essex NDP Riding Association hosted an online forum with former Essex MP Tracey Ramsey, Windsor West MP Brian Masse, and party leader, Jagmeet Singh, regarding affordable housing.

  In Windsor-Essex, in the last year alone, there has been a 22-percent increase in housing costs, Ramsey said, adding some may argue that number may even be higher, based on what is being heard by family and friends.

  Additionally, according to the NDP, the cost of rent has increased by eight percent. Currently, 5,400 families are on a waitlist for affordable housing in Windsor-Essex.

  “People in Essex County are struggling to find affordable housing. There were many people who were struggling before the pandemic, trying to find some place to rent or a place to be able to buy, but since we have seen [these] huge kind of skyrocketing prices that have happened over this last year-and-a-half, we know that owning a home is becoming out of reach for too many people across Windsor-Essex,” Ramsey said.

  She added renting is becoming increasingly difficult. People who live in small towns across Essex County don’t want to have to leave their community and support network to look for more affordable housing in the city.

  Singh said affordable housing is impacting people across Canada. It was an issue he heard about the most when he toured across the nation before the pandemic, which he said has only made the issue worse.

  Whether it is to buy or rent, “It is getting really hard to find a place to call home,” Singh said. “We are here and committed to fight to make sure housing is affordable. The Liberals have talked a lot about it, but haven’t done anything.”

  The NDP, he said, are committed to two things its members believe will improve the situation.

  “One of the things that is happening is a lot of people around the world are looking at Canada and saying ‘wait, the housing market is so stable and it is actually increasing so much, we are going to put our money into Canada,’ and they use it like a stock exchange. We got to stop that. No one should be using the housing market in Canada to make money off of it. It should be a place where people can buy their own home,” Singh said.

  This, he said, could be achieved with a 20 percent tax on foreign investment and tackling money laundering, which are increasing the cost of housing.  

  The second thing, Singh said, is that more affordable homes need to be built.

  “We need to do what we did after the World Wars,” Sign said, which was when Canada decided to build a massive amount of affordable homes. We want to make real serious financial investments in building more homes people could afford, so people can have a place,” Singh said.

  The NDP plan, he added, would like to build 500,000 new homes that are accessible and affordable, so people in all ranges, from young professionals to people with low to no income, can benefit.

  Rebecca Sellan, a 28-year-old Windsor resident, who recently graduated with a Masters in Social Work, made the decision to work part-time so she could focus on her studies. That meant, she said, she would not be able to afford her own place. The idea of renting seemed unlikely and buying a home has never even crossed her mind. So, she lives at home with her parents, paying off high student loan debts she accumulated over the years.

  She said she recognizes the privilege she has in being able to stay with her parents as many do not have the support.   

  “Many of my peers, who are young, working professionals, similar to me, are struggling,” she said, adding she does not know how individuals with children make ends meet.

  As someone who works in the social work field, some of the most vulnerable people who are most likely to be impacted are those living on or below the poverty line, people fleeing unsafe and violent situations, and single-income households.

She spoke of individuals experiencing homelessness, mental and physical health issues, in addition to substance use. She wondered how these individuals can be expected to work towards betterment, without the stability of safe and affordable housing.    

  “Shelter is a basic need, and every Canadian should have access to it, regardless of their situation,” she said.

  In addition, graduates are also facing some of the highest cost of student debt in history. Singh said when he went to school, which he said feels like was not too long ago, the student fees were much lower than they are now.

  “The tuition fees are hitting historic levels, student debt is at historic levels, and the cost of living is going up,” Singh said. “All of those things are combining to make it is so impossible.” He does not want anyone to give up on the dream of owning their own home.


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