PRESS RELEASE: Despite historic spend on housing, budget still largely about austerity, says Horizon Ottawa

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

OTTAWA - Horizon Ottawa welcomes the decision today in the city's 2024 budget vote to raise the affordable housing budget to $30 million but says that the rest of the budget prioritizes measures to ensure low property taxes at the expense of other city services, in particular public transit.

For the past several months, Horizon Ottawa has been working alongside organizations like Ottawa ACORN, knocking on over 10,000 doors and gathering 2,500 signatures for a petition to raise the housing budget to $40 million.

The city declared a housing emergency in 2019 and has since only spent between $15 to $16 million every year. The motion passed today would add a one-time $6.2 million injection into the housing budget bringing it up to $30 million.

Horizon hopes that this $30 million will carry over from year to year in the city's ten-year plan as well as rise as the crisis worsens.

"Despite it not going far enough, we welcome the commitment today to spend $30 million on affordable housing in the 2024 budget" said Sam Hersh, Coordinator with Horizon Ottawa. "We hope that this spend will continue to go up year by year. $30 million is a good start but it is not nearly enough."

The rest of the budget however, is another story, says Horizon Ottawa and includes measures meant to keep taxes low rather than improve and expand city services.

In particular, transit has been hit with the worst service reductions since 2011 seeing 74,000 annual hours cut amounting to a full 3.5% service reduction. Transit fares are also increasing despite a motion put forward to freeze fares.

Horizon Ottawa also takes issue with the less than adequate spend on the Climate Change Masterplan, the continued and unnecessary depletion of the city's capital reserves as well as a continued increase of an already over bloated police budget and the rising cost of recreation fees leading to more residents being unable to afford access to recreation facilities.

"It's great that we are spending more on affordable housing but we can't ignore the crushing effects that Sutcliffe's austerity measures will continue to have" said Hersh. "The cuts to our transit system, for example, are immense and an erosion of our service for the sake of keeping taxes low is going to catch up to us if it hasn't already. We will continue to work with other community organizations to fight against further cuts in the new year and budgets to come."

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For Media Inquiries:

Sam Hersh
613-663-7018
[email protected]

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