How many of you have lived right downtown, where all the action is? Canadian cities, including prairie centers like Winnipeg, Regina and Saskatoon have struggled for years to get more people to live in fancy downtown apartments and condos. They offer substantial incentives.
In Winnipeg, city hall is now offering forgivable loans of $10,000 to people buying condos in the area known as The Exchange. If you stay there for at least five years, the loan doesn’t have to be repaid. In all cities, this fancy housing can cost up to half a million dollars or more, and in Winnipeg they’ve not been selling all that well.
Meanwhile, not that far away, the other half , folks on welfare, live in circumstances that are marginal at best, and downright dangerous at worst. Living in a humble rooming house will cost a single person between $350 and $500 a month, if you can find such a place.
Rooming houses are disappearing as developers gobble up the land to build those new condos. People living on social assistance who can find such a humble abode still come up short in Winnipeg.
The monthly housing allowance is $285 a month, which has not changed in a decade or more. To make it come out even every month, these folks invariably spend more on rent, and less than they should on food.
Finding a place to buy nutritious food is a whole other issue, especially if you don’t drive. The grocery chains have abandoned downtown, and no one has yet figured out how to get them back.
Just like it is in Toronto or New York, downtown is a great place to live, as long as you’re a millionaire, or close to it.
I’m Roger Currie