It was supposed to be a safe, affordable home for Ontarians with nowhere else to go. But inside, it was horrifying.
The province’s government-run housing agency, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, ran a secret report on the housing market, released in September 2013, that found that 1,800 units would be needed for people who make just $40,000 annually.
The government rejected the report and instead allocated $14.3 million to repair the housing for people in low-income families — roughly 10 per cent of all of the homes ever built in Ontario.
In March 2014, the government launched “Home Buyer’s Plan, ” which allowed households with a mortgage to get loans of up to 76 per cent of the price of the new home — up to $400,000 — so that they could quickly buy or refit a home.
By law, these loans could only be repaid over 30 years, but in 2015, they began to expire.
Now, years after the report was released, the families it warned of are in the same dire situation they were before the report: without any hope of ever being able to buy a home.
On a recent weekend, I travelled around Toronto, interviewing people who have gone through what they see as an “unforgivable struggle” to get a new home they can call home. While Canada’s housing market has improved since this report was released, it still hasn’t returned to pre-recession levels.
“I’ve been trying to go up for nearly 20 years,” says one woman in her early 60s, who moved into a Toronto neighbourhood in the 1990s after being rejected from an apartment where her income would have qualified her for a rental subsidy at that time.
“I’ve been working for the housing authority where [the report] warned of problems. They made us do our own estimates because we’re seniors. But I thought they were going to give us housing.”
It took nearly 20 years “for them to say ‘No, it’s not going to happen.’ I don’t want to get old and have a lot of belongings and to be at a nursing home or something, to have a place that’s not up to code, to me it’s not affordable.”
‘We’re going to take it away from you!’
Her story is the same as that of many people who spoke to CBC News from across the country.