Affordable Housing Money going to Travel and Personal Company

QUEEN’S PARK –A recent Freedom of Information request revealed that the provincially created Housing Services Corporation has been spending money allocated for affordable housing on international travel and lavish meals, as well as a $6,000 “monthly retainer” for the Chair of the Board which went to his personal consulting company.

“At a time when housing wait lists in Ontario are growing it’s hard to imagine how an organization that is supposed to provide services to Ontario’s affordable housing providers justifies this spending,” said Ernie Hardeman, MPP Oxford and PC Critic for Municipal Affairs and Housing. “This is all money that was earmarked for affordable housing and is being diverted to pay these expenses.”

Expenses for CEO Howie Wong between February 2012 and June 2013 include:

Seven trips to London, England over the 16 months. At one point Mr. Wong flew back to Ontario on a Thursday night and then returned to London, England two days later;
Two trips to Vancouver, including one with a hotel bill for over $1,000 at the Fairmont Pacific Rim;
Over $3,000 to fly to a conference in Sydney, Australia. The claim form lists the destination as Sydney, Nova Scotia;
More than $2,000 to attend a conference in Los Angeles;
A six day trip to England (March 23-29th) in which he expensed more than $1,355 in meals.
Many of these trips included a group of HSC staff and board members, in addition to the expenses filed by Howie Wong – all paid for by funds designated for affordable housing.

In addition, the FOI request revealed that provincial appointee to the HSC Board, Roger Maloney, was charging a monthly retainer of $6,000 plus tax in addition to his per diem of $750 as board chair. In 2012, Maloney received $52,500 in director’s fees and an additional $72,000 in fees paid to his personal consulting firm, as well as $19,408 for travel and expenses.

The Housing Services Act, 2011 requires all affordable housing providers to purchase natural gas and insurance through HSC, which funds it’s operations by charging housing providers above cost for these purchases.

“The waiting list for affordable housing has grown by almost 40,000 families since 2003,” said Hardeman. “The government should be working to make sure that every dollar is used to help those in need, not allowing this money to be diverted for other purposes.”

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For more information, contact:
Ernie Hardeman, MPP Oxford
(416) 325-1239