The Newfoundland and Labrador Housing and Homelessness Network building in Pleasantville holds more than 30 affordable living units, with a main level including The Network Café, the Provincial Learning Centre (conference room space) and offices for the not-for-profit group.
Federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh was given a brief introduction on Monday during his visit to St. John’s.
“This is exactly what we need to see more of,” he said to reporters, standing in the café.
“A network like this that provides services, provides training, provides something like a social enterprise where people that have barriers can get employment, and also the affordable housing and the subsidized housing.”
The organization also binds together pro-housing efforts happening throughout the province.
Singh heard from staff about the availability of on-site units to low-income earners, and a need for more supportive housing options for individuals, as opposed to larger families — a sign of changing times and something the provincial minister responsible for the Newfoundland and Labrador Housing Corp. has mentioned in the past.
In response to questions, Singh spoke generally about affordable housing in Canada, saying there is a housing crisis, not limited to one or two spots in the country.
“The reality is it’s a crisis everywhere,” he said, repeating points made on the heels of the Trudeau government’s announcement of its 10-year national housing strategy, released in November 2017.
That plan includes spending on new affordable housing units and repairs, and efforts to cut chronic homelessness and promote stable housing situations.
There is also a $4-billion Canada Housing Benefit for low-income earners, expected to offer rent subsidy of $2,500 a year, beginning in 2020.
Singh highlighted the 2020 spending under the plan, saying it should be kicking in right away.
“We need to see that funding immediately,” he said.
Moving red to orange
Singh, who also spoke at the provincial NDP conference over the weekend, was asked about the big win for Justin Trudeau in the last federal election, and how he expects to wrestle that support away from the Liberals in Atlantic Canada.
“For me … it’s really always about, how can I champion the concerns of the people? Wherever we are, we have to listen to what the folks are concerned about and talk about those issues,” he said.
“The issues peoples are facing are real and people need help right away. And so I’ll continue to use my platform to talk about those struggles that people face and talk about a brighter future.”
NL Housing and Homelessness Network