Need a question to ask the next federal election candidate that knocks on your door? Ask them about affordable and social housing. Ask them what they plan to do to solve Edmonton’s housing crisis.

Council recently heard grim news about affordable and social housing in Edmonton. While the City wants to build 3,500 new units — a fraction of the need — it can’t afford them.

Nor is it really our responsibility, as Edmonton taxpayers. The federal government takes the lion’s share of our taxes and is properly responsible for affordable housing.

Yet the fact is, by 2040 the federal government’s contribution to social and affordable housing will reach zero. Nothing. Nada. Nil. As our population continues to grow and housing prices climb, our federal government is slowly backing away from its responsibility to take care of it’s citizens.

This is a crisis. The homeless population is made up of citizens suffering from mental illness, early-life trauma and/or generational poverty. Many are addicts and alcoholics as a result. They are ill — not malingerers.

Yet the side effects of their unchosen, inhumane existence are social disorder, violence, crime and distressed communities. The government costs associated with homelessness in Edmonton are well above $100 million annually.

Yet the federal government is reducing its commitment to housing. It continues to download it’s responsibilities onto municipalities.

Property taxes, the most regressive form of taxation, is being tasked with covering the rising costs of homelessness. So in the next few weeks, leading up to October 19th, make sure you ask candidates how their party will address Edmonton’s housing crisis.

The answers might be telling.

By Scott McKeen, City Councillor Ward 6