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Affordable Housing and the LRT

"'We're pushing them away': Why affordable housing is needed along LRT line"

The Region of Waterloo needs to do something now to ensure there is affordable housing along the LRT route, poverty advocates say.

As more and more underutilized and vacant spaces along the light rail transit lines are earmarked for development, local policy makers need to make sure the region's poorest residents aren't forced to live further away from the cores of the cities and the services located there.

The downtown cores are often where social service offices are set up to help the most in need, says Regan Brussé of the group Alliance Against Poverty.

"It's really important [transit is] available to those on low income. As we're pushing them away from that central line, we're basically forcing them to travel a larger distance to gain the supports that they need," Brussé said.

Brussé would like to see more concrete answers to help the poorer residents in Waterloo region.

"We don't get feedback," she said. "We're not being heard."

She said the group is never asked to comment on housing developments along the LRT lines.

There is no doubt in her mind low-income residents will be pushed out of their homes along the LRT and that it's going to happen sooner rather than later.

"In the last few years, in the last while, we've seen a lot of the downtown core experience some gentrification and I think we're going to be seeing that expand along the line of the LRT at an expedited rate," she said.

Meanwhile, she added, "the demand for affordable housing in our area is not diminishing – it's increasing."

She said the region needs to start listening to these kinds of concerns because ignoring it will only hurt the residents who need the most help.

"I would like to see (the region) looking more at matching the public transit services with those who actually need them as opposed to focusing on a target market that doesn't necessarily exist right now," she said.

"We need to be supporting the poor in our area instead of trying to draw people in through light rail transit. Let's make the services we have right now affordable and that will help stimulate the growth."\

To read the whole article and listen to the whole interview with Regan Brussé: