Submission to the Ontario Government on the Employment and Housing Crisis

Publisher:  United Electrical Radio and Machine Workers of America, Toronto, Canada
Year Published:  1975  
Pages:  24pp  
Resource Type:  Article
Cx Number:  CX194

A brief arguing that housing should become a regulated public utility.

This brief argues that growing job insecurity and unemployment are a direct result of downturn in housing construction. Housing is shown as becoming more inaccessible because of high prices and inadequate financing terms. These escalating costs result in aggravating shortage by cutting back in construction, a fact that leads to further unemployment in related industries. The reason for high cost is seen as lack of government intervention to protect people from money lenders and land speculators. As factors contributing to the increased cost of housing from 1961 to 1974, labor is seen as accounting for 8%, land cost for 15% and interest charges, 53%. Developers and speculators are reportedly making from 50 - 600% profit.

Both the Federal and Ontario governments are identified as being committed to the trickle down theory where entrepreneurs control the economy to produce benefits for people and where public funds are used only when private enterprise fails to meet needs. In terms of government assistance and public housing, this approach is seen as failing because assistance is directed more to middle and upper income groups rather than to lower income needs. Ontario produces less than 1% of public housing with a year by year drop in units built. The brief identifies shelter as a fundamental social right of every citizen and calls for a class approach to control present monopoly interests. It is suggested that the government intervene in the economy by making housing a public utility. The brief states that this right would be guaranteed through the following measures: expropriation of land held by speculators; mortgage rates be reduced to 6%, loans to municipalities to assist them in servicing affordable shelter and a shift in taxation from property onto income on the basis of ability to pay. It also recommends a massive affordable housing program, rent controls and a 50% increase in public housing with rent geared to no more than 20% of income.

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