Rent control urged to end housing woes

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By Allan Woods

The provincial government lacks the political will to fight the housing crisis in Ontario, says the Liberal party’s housing critic.

David Caplan criticized the government’s housing policy at a Ryerson press conference Monday morning.

He joined Marie Bountrogianni, Liberal critic for colleges and universities, in calling for rent control, reduced tuition and better access to OSAP.

Karen Vaux, spokesperson for the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, said the problem is the low vacancy rate, especially in Toronto.

The ministry says it’s working to improve the housing situation by offering tax benefits and donating public land to building developers.

Caplan said Ontario officials “talk the talk but don’t walk the walk.”

Ryerson students don’t appear to be walking the walk either, despite efforts by RyeSAC to make them part of the solution.

RyeSAC’s last event, Coping With the Cold, on Nov. 6 went almost unnoticed. The fundraiser for Toronto’s Out of the Cold programs raised only $300. Less than 15 people took part by sleeping outside Pitman Hall for a night.

A quick chat with Ryerson students shows many are largely uninterested in the homelessness and housing situation in Toronto.

They say they’re too busy with school and work and disillusioned with the political rhetoric.

“Politicians don’t pay much attention,” said John Layne, a business student, who added nothing even really gets done.

But RyeSAC president Erin George remains committed.

“Our philosophy is that homelessness and the student housing crisis are not separate issues… What happens when someone graduates with a $25,000 debt and they have to find a job and a place to live in the city?”

The school was the only Canadian university to join in declaring homelessness a “national disaster.” The school raised $4,000 last year for the annual Raise the Roof Toque Tuesday, in support of local homeless shelters.

On Wednesday from 4 to 6 p.m., RyeSAC will take part in Squeegee for Change at the intersection of Yonge and Dundas to protests the provincial government’s ban on squeegee kids.

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