Canada’s long-awaited first National Housing Strategy, promising $40 billion of investment in affordable homes, was announced November 22 by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Toronto, and Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Families, Children and Social Development, in Vancouver.
The strategy’s stated aims are to:
• reduce chronic homelessness by 50%;
• remove more than 530,000 households from housing need;
• create four times as many new housing units as built under federal programs from 2005 to 2015;
• repair three times as many existing housing units as repaired under federal programs from 2005 to 2015; and
• protect an additional 385,000 households from losing an affordable place to live.
Prime Minister Trudeau said, “We need to change our approach to housing and stop thinking about housing as a problem. Housing is actually a solution. It’s the best tool we have for some really significant challenges, whether that’s for health, crime, climate change, unemployment, or reconciliation... Affordable housing has made all the difference for folks from all walks of life. But in recent decades, our housing stock has aged and the federal government’s role has diminished.”
He added, “Our government was elected on its commitment to make housing a priority. Years of hard work have culminated in the National Housing Strategy – a robust, comprehensive, life-changing plan to help Canadians get into homes and stay there. The National Housing Strategy represents a once-in-a-generation, $40 billion vision. We’re not only backing housing but we’re here to stay for the long term.
Trudeau said, “Our government recognizes that housing rights are human rights. We will introduce legislation to ensure that future governments continue to take steps to secure access to adequate housing.”
The $40 billion investment – which will be spread over a 10-year period and will be funded jointly by the federal, provincial and territorial governments – includes:
• $15.9 billion for a new National Housing Co-Investment Fund to create up to 60,000 new affordable homes and repair another 240,000; create 7,000 shelter spaces for survivors of domestic violence, create at least 12,000 units for seniors and create at least 2,400 units for people with developmental disabilities;
• $8.6 billion for a new Canada Community Housing Initiative in partnership with provinces and territories, to preserve existing community-based housing, build a more modern and sustainable community housing system, and keep housing affordable for 330,000 low-income households – plus $500 million in a new Federal Community Housing Initiative;
• $4 billion for a new Canada Housing Benefit to be launched in 2020 partnership with provinces and territories, giving qualifying households an average of $2,500 a year to help with housing costs, with the aim of helping 300,000 households across Canada;
• $2.2 billion to reduce homelessness, and a new homelessness strategy to be outlined in April 2019;
• $300 million to address housing needs in Canada’s North; and
• $241 million for research, data and demonstration projects.
When asked by media why most of the funding will not start flowing until after the 2019 federal election, Trudeau replied, “The need for housing is so complex, we need to get it right from the very beginning. With the Canada Housing Benefit, for example, we need to work out exactly what model is going to work. We are looking at the realistic horizon that is going to not just put a band aid on the problem but create deep change and lasting impact.”
Trudeau also added that the currently outlined strategy does not fully include the housing needs of indigenous populations, saying that the federal government will be working with First Nations to establish those needs before attempting to tackle them.
For more details on the National Housing Strategy, go to the Liberal government’s Place to Call Home website.