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AN open house on affordable housing Tuesday gave voice to concerned citizens critical of the province for privatizing subsidized housing.
"Everyone deserves the right to have an affordable, safe place to live, and we are definitely far away from that," said Carlos Sosa, who attended the discussion hosted by the Right to Housing Coalition at West End Commons.
"Especially in the last number of years, with the changes that have gone on with the current government."
Multiple speakers among the roughly 60 attendees said they were concerned by the privatization of subsidized housing in Manitoba and budget cuts to social housing, since the Pallister government was elected in 2016.
The province has sold 94 properties formerly owned by Manitoba Housing since 2016, according to documents gained through an access to information request submitted by the provincial Liberal party.
In 2017 and 2018, Manitoba sold 948 units to the private sector, including 373 to for-profit companies and 503 to non-profit companies, according to Shauna MacKinnon, chair of urban and inner-city studies at the University of Winnipeg.
Tristan Dreilich, a member of the provincial working group for the Right to Housing Coalition, said the main concern with Manitoba Housing properties being sold to private companies or not-for-profits is the province is no longer responsible for overseeing maintenance or the policies on who qualifies for housing.
It is also unclear what the province has planned for housing, and whether it plans on selling-off all publicly owned properties, Dreilich said. "We also don’t know if there is a long-term plan to make sure these units remain affordable."
Three-hundred affordable housing units were being built per year while the NDP was in power, and no new affordable or subsidized housing units have been created under the current Tory government, Dreilich said.
The wait list of eligible applicants to Manitoba Housing programs was at 6,851 in January 2019, according to an access to information request submitted by the Liberals.
Other topics discussed at Tuesday’s meeting included a lack of Indigenous consultation in affordable housing decisions, unsafe and unclean living conditions, and difficult application processes causing barriers.
Dreilich said the feedback will be collected to help inform what the coalition’s next steps will be, with a report to come.
"We want to start forming those solutions because we’re not confident that solutions are going to be coming from Broadway," he said.
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Updated on Wednesday, February 19, 2020 at 8:51 AM CST: Adds photo