Liberals look to ease affordability concerns with release of housing strategy


"After years of uncertainty, we welcome the federal government's detailed plan on how it will protect the affordability of co-operative housing for our low-income neighbours", said CHF Canada President Nicole Waldron.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the long-awaited housing strategy on Wednesday in response to United Nations criticism of Canada's "persistent housing crisis".

The government hopes that building 80,000 new affordable rental units, along with some $25 billion in government spending and private capital over the next decade, will ease that burden for 500,000 of those families and help another 500,000 avoid or escape homelessness.

The country will have a new, portable housing benefit starting in 2021. "The provinces and territories will, of course, be primary partners in the Strategy, but we will also work with municipalities, the private and non-profit sectors and others who share our goal of creating a new generation of housing in Canada". Any province or territory that balks at the idea won't see the benefit. As envisioned, the federal and provincial/territorial governments will jointly fund the 10-year, $40-billion package of policies and programs so many details are still missing or yet to be refined through future negotiations, but, ultimately, the goal is to create stability for 1.7 million people now deemed to be in housing need.

The two new independent bodies that will oversee the plan's implementation offer affected groups a chance to be heard on issues related to housing, Farha said.

"We are looking at the realistic horizon that is going to not just put a Band-Aid on the problem, but create the kind of deep change and lasting impact that we know Canadians are going to need", Trudeau said. The federal government also pledges to transfer $200 million of its surplus federal land to housing providers and to contribute funds for associated requirements for brownfield rehabilitation or building conversions.

Federal legislation will eventually make housing a fundamental right.

Recently released census data found that 1.7 million households were in "core housing need" in 2016, meaning they spent more than one-third of their before-tax income on housing that may be substandard or doesn't meet their needs.

The Liberals laid the financial backbone for the plan in this year's federal budget, promising $11.2-billion over a decade in new spending. About $5 billion of that money the Canada Mortgage and Housing expected to turn into $15 billion by leveraging $10 billion in private investment.

Those groups are planning demonstrations in multiple cities today, demanding the Liberals spend the full $11.2 billion before the next election.