Recently, Council, you wisely chose to vocalize your support for the need to act on climate change. I very much respect this. I have children. They are dependent on our current actions; are also affected by the stagnancy of our response.
As I chewed on this, because it does scare me, I started wondering about many things. I need to ask, I need to know.
Daily, we see on the internet, in the news, on the radio, the impact of our current climate state. Globally we are feeling the impact. Floods, forest fires, tornadoes, hurricanes, temperature alterations, droughts, disease; CHANGE. Eventually I fear that we will feel it here too.
What will happen when these situations arrive to the residents of this area? How do we respond locally to emergency situations? Will I be able to re-stabilize my family? It could happen to me. It could happen to you.
The City of Kitchener Emergency Response Plan, dated December 2017 defines an emergency as “distinct from the normal daily operations carried out by municipal first response agencies and City departments. “
“The Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act defines an emergency as: ‘A situation or impending situation that constitutes a danger of major proportions that could result in serious harm to persons or substantial damage to property and that is caused by the forces of nature, a disease or other health risk, an accident or an act whether intentional or otherwise.”
I’d like to suggest that we’ve caused an accident. It wasn’t intentional, but it’s posing a danger to many. We have a situation on our hands, and a further impending danger of major proportions.
We can no longer hide from the crisis of affordable housing. Solutions need to be found. We cannot delay the necessary action to solve this crisis.
I am here today to propose that the following things to be immediately implemented into the budget.
Part 1 is commitment. A permanent budget line titled “Affordable Housing Initiatives Funding” be added to this year’s budget.
This assures that dealing with affordable housing will continue to take place each year. Its how we commit to our citizens need for support and housing stabilization. and say that we refuse to allow our most vulnerable to be forgotten. We acknowledge their need, and express that they hold value as individuals, not just statistics.
Part 2 is Funding.
I am asking for $5,000,000 in municipal commitment spread over this current year and the following four years.
Aleksandra Petrovic working for the Social Development Centre Waterloo Region will be presenting at the Community and Infrastructure Services Committee, as her organization has been tracking trends in homelessness since the 80's and gentrification since 2010. "The assessment is a testimony that hard data and statistics haven't at all influenced policies and strategies to date. The investment into deeply affordable housing at all levels of government remains gravely inadequate to address the crisis that has built up over time," says Petrovic.
Regan Sunshine Brussé, poverty advocate with the Alliance Against Poverty, who also ran in the municipal race for the ward 2 council position in 2018, intends to approach Council at the evening budget meeting.
The current City of Kitchener Budget already includes funding for the ALL IN 2020 Campaign, responsible for the most recently released data on the topic locally. Brussé suggests that “the 2020 budget option needs to be selected at its highest tier." She goes on to explain "I think this is a necessary and positive step, and would hate to see us miss the chance to really get started due to lack of funds. We've committed to this. We can no longer hide from our knowledge of this crisis. We need more funding options."
Both women are active locally in the community and many share their deep concern.
Petrovic states that "the only way housing strategies can be successful is by welcoming the people who are homeless, or who spend far beyond 30% of their income or social assistance check on poor and unsafe housing to be at the center of planning and implementation. Re-humanizing of marginalized groups is a process that will build broader understanding about the spending decisions that have to be made.”
For more information please contact either:
Aleksandra Petrovic - Executive Director - Social Development Centre Waterloo Region
Regan Sunshine Brussé - Poverty Advocate/Speaker – Alliance Against Poverty