Some Saskatchewan families need an affordable place to live – a reality this out-of-touch government doesn’t understand, according to comments it made following the revelation it’s choosing to walk away from a 48-unit affordable housing development.
Minister of Social Services Donna Harpauer dismissed the government's decision to ditch the affordable housing project by saying Tuesday, "you’re assuming that there’s these desperate homeless people."
Harpauer defended the government’s decision to allow the developer to break the affordable housing contract with the government, penalty-free, by saying "I think that our relationship with [the private developer] warrants the fact that we don’t thump on them when they’ve had a misfortune."
NDP Leader Cam Broten called the comments disgusting.
"For the Social Services Minister to question whether homeless people in our province are actually desperate for housing is absolutely ridiculous," said Broten. "It screams of a government that is completely out of touch with the reality for some families. But what's especially shocking is that this government is using its relationship with the private developer as the reason it abandoned this project and let the developer commercialize it. Clearly this government's top priority is looking out for its own friends and insiders. That's completely unacceptable."
The government sold off 40 housing units in Regina that were previously set aside for low-income residents, with plans to sell another 260. Those units were supposed to be replaced by this new project. But, when the private developer tallied a four per cent cost overrun on its construction, the government allowed it to break its fixed pricing contract without penalty so it could make more money by commercializing the units and charging much higher prices for them.
"It's frustrating enough that this government can't get the job done on affordable housing," said Broten. "But it's appalling that this government is more worried about its friends than it is about vulnerable people in our society. What exactly is it about the relationship between this government and this particular private developer that's so special? The government should explain that."