With the latest wave of the COVID-19 pandemic definitely waning if not quite gone, the words “back to normal” are on everyone’s lips again.
Unfortunately, there are a lot of parts of normal that we vowed to fix as soon as the virus was in our rear view mirror, including issues around housing and homelessness.
Remember the first six months or so of the pandemic, when we had plenty of time to think about the way we’d been living, and what our priorities had been? One of the major things that was discussed was finally creating a just system of housing in this province.
It doesn’t look like that’s going to happen. Right now, people vulnerable to homelessness are finding their options shrinking as hotels that took them in during the pandemic are looking for new customers.
Meanwhile, the housing market has been going gangbusters for more than a year and a half, which means that places to rent are even harder to find.
The provincial government has made some changes, and some affordable housing projects have gone forward over the last couple of years.
But it’s been a drop in the bucket.
We’ve had two years to think about what we would like to do for housing in the long term, and frankly, neither the federal nor the provincial governments have come up with the kind of sweeping reforms needed. Where are the plans for more affordable housing supply, changes to development patterns, new co-ops, revamped services for those in danger of homelessness?
We can see on the streets of our communities every day that if things have gotten better, it’s not by much.
It looks like we might finally be out from under COVID-19 this time. That means there are no more excuses for our leaders to avoid dealing with the housing crisis that’s been brewing for decades.