When the Government of Canada released a call for submissions regarding the National Housing Strategy, we recognized the opportunity to share our input to ensure that addressing homelessness is a key element of the strategy. Working with over 60 Partner Agencies, we developed a set of recommendations to inform the federal government’s decision-making.
Together, we can ensure access to housing for all Canadians is put into policy.
Recommendation #1: Investing in Homelessness Prevention
We recommend direct investment in homelessness prevention programs and the development/implementation of innovative prevention models. This will include investment in a range of program models that include Primary, Secondary and Tertiary prevention interventions.
The National Housing Strategy must embrace a more inclusive definition of prevention. Read more: Let’s Talk Housing and Prevention (Gaetz, 2016)
Recommendation #2: Targeted Investments to Address Homelessness
We recommend investments to target people experiencing or at risk of homelessness including adults, youth, children and families. This means extending renewal and expanding the scope of the Homelessness Partnering Strategy (HPS).
Recommendation #3: Preventing, Reducing and Ending Youth Homelessness
We recommend direct investment in initiatives and programs to prevent, reduce and end youth homelessness. This would include: Housing First for Youth, school-based, family-based, place-based, and systems-based responses. This will also include a specific focus on youth mental health.
Here’s more information on how to address youth homelessness in the National Housing Strategy from A Way Home Canada:
National Housing Strategy Recommendations
Recommendation #4: A Human Rights Approach to Homelessness
We recommend a human rights approach that embraces the idea that all people have a fundamental, legal right to be free of homelessness and to have access to adequate housing. This will include establishing a Canadian Charter to support and protect this human right AND enforcing this Charter right with national legislation.
Here’s some more information on why a human rights approach is so important:
Dignity for All: A National Anti-Poverty Plan for Canada
Youth Rights! Right Now! Ending Youth Homelessness: A Human Rights Guide
Recommendation #5: A National Housing Benefit
We recommend a National Housing Benefit – a new program to assist those who face a severe affordability problem in their current accommodation. This proposed federal government program, operated through the Canada Revenue Agency, would include a monthly cash payment would go directly to households with low incomes and burdensome housing costs.
Recommendation #6: An Affordable Housing Framework Agreement
We recommend a new federal, provincial and territorial affordable housing framework agreement. This would include a set of clear priorities and expectations for government investment that reflect the reality that homelessness and homelessness systems are local/regional in nature and that investment planning/allocation must be as such.
Recommendation #7: Investment in Affordable Housing Programs
We recommend direct investment in affordable housing programs. That is, a continued investment in federal funding for Social Housing, Co-ops and Non-profits. In addition, renewing funds for the Investment in Affordable Housing initiative (IAH), a cost/shared (50/50) funding program for housing involving federal, provincial and territorial governments.
Recommendation #8: Expanded Investment in Indigenous Housing
We recommend the review and expanded investment in Indigenous housing both on and off reserve. This will address the growing concern that on-reserve housing is inadequate and the existing stock is deteriorating rapidly due to substandard construction practices and materials, lack of proper maintenance, and overcrowding.
The Canadian Housing and Renewal Association has developed a great resource to inform recommendations on Indigenous Housing. See it here.
Recommendation #9: An Affordable Housing Tax Credit
We recommend creating an affordable housing tax credit. This credit would be designed to give private equity investors reductions in federal income tax for dollars invested in qualifying affordable housing projects.
Read our full submission here:
National Housing Strategy – Raising the Roof Submission
Looking for more information on homelessness and the need for a National Housing Strategy? Here are some useful resources and links:
Maytree’s Let’s Talk Housing Community Conversations guide
The State of Homelessness in Canada 2014
Federal Investment in Youth Homelessness: Comparing Canada and the United States
For more information on the National Housing Strategy visit www.letstalkhousing.ca. You can also join the conversation online using #LetsTalkHousing.