Report calls for federal reinvestment in social housing as operating agreements expire.
The first campaign in CHRA’s new Housing For All initiative focuses on ‘Social housing for people in need.’ The cornerstone of the campaign is the just-released report, Housing For All: Sustaining and Renewing Social Housing for Low-Income Households. The Report ushers in a new plan for the revitalization of social housing in Canada, in the wake of expiring federal funding through operating agreements.
The Report proposes to do things differently – to build an efficient, self-sustaining and innovative system of social housing in Canada. Three broad recommendations are articulated; two new investment streams, for affordability and for capital repairs, to be designed and delivered by the provincial/territorial governments through a negotiated cost-sharing framework with the federal government, and a third recommendation enabling a transformation of the social housing sector.
CHRA takes an in-depth look at the issue of expiring operating agreements and its impact on social housing - on those who live there and those who provide it. While making clear that the current situation is untenable, the Report takes a progressive view of how to move forward over the next 20 to 25 years, to avoid the instability that currently threatens up to 365,000 low-income households who live in social housing.
CHRA President, Brigitte Witkowski remarks, “The Report helps to crystallize a complicated and often misunderstood housing issue. It presents new research on who, how and how many will be affected – and that number is larger than previously thought. The Report findings will lead us to better policy solutions for social housing, especially with the federal election next year.”
CHRA’s campaign, ‘Housing For All: Social housing for people in need’ calls for federal reinvestment in social housing to ensure it is available, protected and eventually expanded for low-income individuals and families in communities across Canada. At its peak, the federal government supported over 600,000 low-income households with annual contributions of $2 billion through long-term housing agreements. This investment subsidized rents for low-income households, offset mortgage costs or did both. It has provided a crucial safety net for the most vulnerable among us – lone-parent families, persons with disabilities, seniors, newcomers, aboriginal people and others – and has given Canada a permanent stock of social housing assets to draw upon for those in need. Now, as these agreements expire, federal funding is expiring with it and the government has stated they have no plans to reinvest. In 2013, the federal portion of the social housing program was down to $1.6 billion, an amount that will decline precipitously in the coming years, eventually to zero by 2040. Without reinvestment, rent increases, economic evictions and possibly homelessness may result for those who cannot afford other housing options.
CHRA member organizations – who collectively house and shelter hundreds of thousands of Canadians, and provide housing support to many more – have asked that the Report findings and recommendations be widely shared and discussed to put housing affordability more prominently on the political and public agenda. CHRA’s ‘Housing For All’ call for federal reinvestment in social housing is mobilizing members, other housing practitioners and the public to ‘Add Your Voice’ and ‘Contact Your MP’ through a new website www.housing4all.ca and related advocacy events and resources.
Says Ms. Witkowski, “Canadians will demand to know why a wealthy nation can’t make better provision for its most vulnerable populations. CHRA and the affordable housing sector are in motion on this most pressing social issue, offering better information and innovative solutions to our federal leaders so that, collectively, we ensure everyone has a safe and decent place to call home.”
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