KPMG’s recommendations for social housing are not shocking, but that doesn’t make them any less wrong for low-income Manitobans, the provincial co-ordinator for the Right to Housing Coalition says.
“Given that what they were supposed to do was propose cost-cutting measures, I’m not surprised,” Kirsten Bernas said on Friday in an interview. “It’s not very good at all — there’s not much we’d promote.
“I’m not surprised they’re talking about selling off units, and charging more, and not building any more units,” she said. “They’ve already made some changes to Rent Assist — that already was a concern. It only affords you a very low-level rental unit.
“We don’t have enough social housing,” Bernas said. “You can’t do a value-for-money and just look at costs,” and there’s nothing in the report about social outcomes.
“Manitoba Housing’s mandate is to meet the housing needs of low-income people in Manitoba,” but that’s not the private-sector’s mandate, she said. “There’s a huge focus there on transferring assets; that’s pretty scary for us.”
Meanwhile, NDP families critic Bernadette Smith accused KPMG of putting private profits ahead of low-income Manitobans.
“The Pallister government has lost compassion for those who need help the most by making it more expensive for low-income Manitobans to afford the rent,” Smith said on Friday. “Their KPMG plan puts private profits before the needs of low-income Manitobans.
“This will only increase the number of people forced to go homeless, and push up costs downstream in the health system as people struggle to deal with the effects of this government’s actions,” she said. “Manitoba needs investment in quality affordable housing, not cuts and privatization.”
Manitoba Government and General Employees’ Union president Michelle Gawronsky said Manitoba needs both more and more-affordable social housing: “It would be unfortunate if the government chose to go the route of yet another cut to public services.
“Manitoba Housing exists to provide people, many of whom are underprivileged or single parents, with a basic necessity in life: a place to live. It was set up because the private market didn’t provide that,” she said. “Private corporations are in business to make a profit and have that as their top priority, sometimes at the expense of families and employees.”