$5B housing pledge aims to help most vulnerable National Housing
TheStar.com – News/GTA – Fund to focus on people struggling with mental health, addictions and domestic abuse as well as seniors, persons with disabilities and veterans.
April 5, 2017. By EMILY MATHIEUHousing Reporter
Canadians struggling with mental health and addiction issues and fleeing domestic violence can expect more help finding and keeping a home, through a new $5 billion federal housing fund.
“Housing is the cornerstone of building sustainable, inclusive communities in a strong Canadian economy where all Canadians can prosper and thrive,’ said Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Families, Children and Social Development, prior to the announcement of the new fund at Ryerson University on Wednesday.
“Unfortunately, for too many Canadians, a safe and decent home is simply not affordable, for too many Canadians the only home they can afford has a leaky roof, or crumbling stairwell or the stink of mould,” he said.
The $5 billion National Housing Fund is one of several measures Duclos said can be expected as part of the forthcoming National Housing Strategy.
Duclos did not provide details on how the fund would be used, but said the focus would be on supporting the most vulnerable Canadians, which in addition to people struggling with mental health, addictions and domestic abuse also includes seniors, persons with disabilities and veterans.
Ontario Housing Minister Chris Ballard and Mayor John Tory also attended the announcement and reaffirmed the need for all levels of government to work together to eliminate homelessness and address what is commonly described as a national housing crisis.
Tory, during his remarks, spoke to the unique issues facing Toronto, particularly when it comes to social housing.
In Toronto, the waitlist for social housing has topped 180,000 people and community housing stock requires $2.6 billion in repairs, over the next decade.
While the details of the national strategy have yet to be released, Tory said he was optimistic that those needs are recognized and he would continue to press for a fair share of federal housing dollars, in the weeks and months ahead.
“If we are being honest there is a real and growing divide between those who can afford to live and work in the city of Toronto and those who cannot and that is not a divide we can allow to continue to grow, or to exist for that matter,” said Tory.
The national strategy, said Duclos, will also include $3 billion dedicated towards strengthening the relationship between provinces and territories, targeted funding for northern communities and Indigenous communities, both on and off reserve, and increased funding to prevent and reduce homelessness.
Duclos made a public commitment that over the next 10 years a total of 500,000 Canadians would be “lifted from homelessness” and into housing, or prevented from falling into homelessness in the first place.
About 35,000 Canadians will experience homelessness on any given night and roughly 235,000 over the year, according to the Canadian Observatory on Homelessness.
“When somebody is forced to live on the street we are all diminished,” said Duclos.
In March, the federal government announced $11.2 billion for affordable housing initiatives and programs, to be spent over 11 years. Roughly $3 billion of that total is set to be spent in the next five years, with $20 million for this year.
That money is in addition to a commitment to preserve and uphold “baseline funding for expiring social housing agreements,” according to a news release from the event. That operating agreement funding is expected to be maintained up to 2028.
“We want to reinvest this money, those resources, where they are needed most and will work respectfully and efficiently with social housing providers and our partners to develop renewed sustainable, socially responsible and inclusive models of investing,” said Duclos.